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Undergrads, prisoners are classmates in unique seminar

Thought-provoking conversation with a small group of classmates is a defining feature of Case Western Reserve University’s SAGES seminars. This fall, one such seminar expanded the definition of classmate, with eye-opening success.

The Impact of Race, Class and Education: A Dialogue on Current Issues compelled CWRU undergraduates and incarcerated counterparts at the Lorain Correctional Institute to read the same books, complete the same assignments and attend classes together by teleconference and in person. The students discussed racism, mass incarceration, history and the Black Lives Matter movement.

CWRU students said the class personalized topics that are currently at the forefront of political and moral consciousness. “Face-to-face, these issues become much more real,” says sophomore Matthew Hausladen. “The inmates are teachers, in a way.”

One such teacher, Ronnie, an inmate in the midst of 43 years of incarceration, found the class equally rewarding. “I never thought I could speak in front of a group. To be able to open up with all of you, it means a lot.”

Learn more about the class.

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