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Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program

Inside out classroom


Now accepting applications for fall 2020 and spring 2021

Inside-Out Application Form

The “Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program" offers prison-based post-secondary academic courses to groups composed of both university students (outside students) and incarcerated students (inside students) who learn together. Founded in 1997 in Philadelphia by one university professor inspired by one incarcerated man, the program is based on the simple hypothesis that incarcerated men and women and college/university students might mutually benefit from studying together as peers. Together, they build classroom communities based on dialogue, collaboration and serious, shared inquiry. The core of the program is a semester-long, seminar-format academic course taught using a circle pedagogy and collaborative dialogue.

Interested students are asked to submit an application online. Short-listed students will be interviewed and successful students will be enrolled by the course instructors. Security clearances will need to be completed following acceptance into the course.


The program that brings inmates and university students together


The Criminology Department, in collaboration with academic departments across VIU, have expanded their Inside-Out course offerings at two different provincial correctional centres on Vancouver Island. Three courses are held per academic year: fall, spring and summer session. Note that the intersession course planned for May-June 2020 had to be postponed to the fall semester. The schedule for the 2020-2021 academic year is as follows:

Fall semester, Fridays from 11:30am - 2:30pm @ Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre in Victoria

(students and faculty travel by VIU bus at no cost to students)

CRIM 299: Exploring Issues of Crime and Justice Behind the Walls

(3 credits)

(Prerequisite: 30 credits completed)

Instructors: Joanne Falvai and Lauren Mayes

Fall semester, Mondays from 5:30 - 8:30 pm @ Nanaimo Correctional Centre

SOCI 390 / CRIM 499: Exploring Social Problems: Connecting Personal Lives and Public Issues

Students selected for the course will choose to receive credit for either SOCI 390 (Selected Topics in Sociology) or CRIM 499 (Selected Topics in Criminology)

(3 Credits)

(Prerequisite: 60 credits completed)

Instructors: Gillian Anderson and Joanne Falvai

Spring semester, Mondays from 5:30 - 8:30 pm @ Nanaimo Correctional Centre

THEA 215 Participatory Drama II: An Applied Theatre Course taught in partnership with the Criminology Department’s Inside-out Prison Exchange Program

(3 Credits)

(Prerequisite: THEA 115 or THEA 109 or permission of course instructors following Inside-Out interview)

Instructors: Joanne Falvai and Eliza Gardiner

This innovative rendition of THEA 215 fuses CRIM 299 (Current Topics in Criminology) into its design, exploring via performing and visual arts exercises, discussions and project topics of interest to the group including restorative justice, personal transformation, politics, power dynamics, freedom of expression and social determinants of crime.

The Inside-Out program places a human face on justice issues while giving both inside and outside students a powerful academic and experiential learning opportunity, grounded in a philosophy recognizing that each human being has innate worth and a story to tell. VIU is among the first five universities in Canada to offer Inside-Out, building on the successful experiences of over 150 American universities and colleges. Inside-Out courses have been running at the Nanaimo Correctional Centre since 2016. A grant from the Vancouver Foundation has helped this program expand to the Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre in Victoria and to students studying in all academic departments at VIU.

For more information, see the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program (USA) website. Here you’ll find articles on the history of the program, the international network, research, testimonials and inspiring videos.

Questions? Contact the program director, Joanne Falvai