Seated woman speaking at an FRN event while other attendees listen attentively

“A Pedagogy of Liberation”: Building Abolitionist Sanctuaries in Education

This seminar examines pedagogies, policies, and practices within the classroom and larger educational industrial complex. A particular emphasis is to identify the ways in which some educators are conditioned to use punishment and retribution as an external motivation and a response to achieve learning outcomes. Key questions for exploration are: How does the educational industrial complex resemble U.S. prisons? What (adverse) impact do punitive philosophies have on exploratory learning and innovation? How does abolition provide an alternative pedagogical approach to build safe and generative learning communities that are just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive? Applying a critical and an intersectional lens, participants will bring their syllabus or institutional handbook to conduct an audit, create a climate assessment, and construct interventions. The goal of this course is to decarcerate the classroom and educational industrial complex by identifying restorative justice practices and abolitionist goals to grading, assignments, course design, and institutional policies that create educational sanctuaries to foster learning, community, and safety.

Learning outcomes are:

  • To understand abolition as an everyday ethic and pedagogical practice.
  • To interrogate the continuities and discontinuities between the educational industrial complex and the prison industrial complex.
  • To challenge punitive responses that undermine learning, community, and safety.
  • To explore alternatives or solutions that generate liberative tools to audit and assess pedagogies, practices, and policies with attention to justice, equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging.
  • To identify restorative justice approaches and abolitionist interventions that decarcerate the classroom and create educational sanctuaries to build community.

Seminar Schedule. Seminars run Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a midday communal lunch. Seminar conveners may adjust the class schedule in response to participant needs. Special events may also be held during the week. Participants are required to attend the full week of seminar meetings and maintain 90% attendance overall.

Seminar Materials. Eligible participants are provided with all required seminar materials (books, articles, laboratory equipment, and entrance fees).

Accommodations & Meals. Limited housing accommodations are provided to participants who live more than 50 miles from the program site. All admitted participants are provided with some meals during the program period.

Application Procedure. Applicants should submit the completed application along with all of the following:

  • A statement of intent that indicates how the seminar participant will apply what is learned at the home institution
  • A current CV
  • A letter of support from either the division dean or department head, who is well-acquainted with the applicant’s area of research
  • Their institutional liaison officer’s approval