the Tufts prison program and Civic Studies

Rachelle Cohen writes in the Boston Globe:

As a child, Juan Pagan was physically abused by his father. By the time he was 16, his mother, who had battled mental illness all her life, was in prison, and Pagan was expelled from school and had run away from home. His only family became the Lowell gang he was a part of. In May 2006 he stabbed a member of a rival gang, Alexander Castro Santos, and was convicted the following year of first-degree murder — a charge reduced to second-degree in 2008, giving him the possibility of parole down the road.

Now 33, he’ll be awarded his bachelor’s degree from Tufts University Tuesday. He’ll collect it at a ceremony at MCI-Concord along with nine other incarcerated students in the first-ever graduating class of the Tufts University Prison Initiative of the Tisch College of Civic Life.

I’m proud of my colleagues who make this program work, and, above all, proud of the graduates.

These students are earning degrees in Civic Studies, the major that we have developed at Tufts as part of an informal, international network devoted to this emerging field. The Tufts Civic Studies students who are incarcerated often say that the major is ideal because it helps them to understand and change systems. They are part of an international community that consists of hundreds of people who have participated in Summer Institutes of Civic Studies at Tufts, in Europe, and at James Madison University since 2009, plus those who study this subject on Tufts’ main campus.

See also: teaching about institutions, in a prison; article about the Civic Studies major

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.