Our service project is to continue and expand a bi-annual literary journal that showcases the work of students in the classes offered by the Cornell Prison Education Program (CPEP). We hope to start an academic journal, which can complement the academic objectives of some of the CPEP classes. The literary newsletters and academic journals are manifestations of Cornell's mission to instruct any person – even incarcerated men. The academic publication and literary journal will be an opportunity for the students to engage in academic and creative work and to see their intellectual pursuits come to fruition. There has been tremendous interest within the prison community to publish and share their writings with others. We had over 40 submissions for our first literary newsletter, and continue to attract a lot of interest from the CPEP students.
These two publications are meant for distribution on Cornell’s campus, at the correctional facilities, and on the web.
The publications will foster collaboration between instructors/teaching assistants and the Auburn/Cayuga students by having the two parties engage with each other on various subjects – from creative writing to sociology. The collaboration – in the form of on-going semester edits and evaluations of the writing submissions – will embody the spirit of service-learning: instructors will be able to engage in a dialogical relationship with the students, instead of a relationship that casts students as unengaged receptacles for information.
The service project will also serve the function of increasing awareness among individuals on Cornell's campus about the structural inequalities and social injustices within our society. Our hope is that the dissemination of these publications will reorient academic faculty to emphasize social justice issues in their work/research and to empower Cornell students to tackle social justice issues in their own academic and future careers.
Moreover, these publications will be an opportunity to share our service-learning experiences as teaching assistants and instructors at Auburn with the wider Cornell community. It will enable others – whether it is family members, administration, donors, and the greater Cornell community – to see the impact that CPEP has on the prisoners and the volunteers in personal and academic growth. We believe the literary newsletter and academic journal will exemplify the service-learning that is being achieved through CPEP: not only does the Cornell community serve the prisoners, but the teaching assistants and instructors learn from the prisoners' experiences. The prisoners possess unique knowledge and insight of structural and institutional problems: they are the organic intellectuals with the ability to enact social change within their own communities. Through these publications, the prisoners can exercise agency despite the institutional oppression because they are changing the perspectives of others through their academic work. In other words, we have much to learn from the prisoners, and the publications will be the most feasible way of spreading our experiences inside the facilities with the wider Cornell community.
Fourthly, the literary newsletter and academic journal can spark new interest on campus about CPEP. Our hope is that it will facilitate and foster closer relationships between academic departments and the program. By increasing awareness on campus about CPEP, the publications will garner more support from academic departments, administrators, and potential donors. It can provide the incentive to establish concrete departmental relations for faculty and students to inform their academic work with the lived experiences of the Auburn students.