Aretē: Philosophy in Prisons: Capstone Showcase Abstract – Barger Leadership Institute

Aretē: Philosophy in Prisons: Capstone Showcase Abstract

Aretē: Philosophy in Prisons is a ten-week student-led outreach program that serves to deepen the lives of those incarcerated, as well as the lives of Michigan students through an eye-opening exchange of unique perspectives. Michigan graduate and undergraduate students will have the opportunity to engage in philosophical dialogue with people who are currently incarcerated. By utilizing a co-teaching model centered upon ethics discussions and case studies, we aim to foster critical thinking, perspective-taking abilities, community empowerment, and fair educational opportunities.
We will work towards defending philosophical positions with respect to various real and imagined ethical dilemmas. A subset of cases will be used, developed this summer by members of the Michigan community, which deal with a range of difficult moral problems. Our goal in discussing these will be to fully understand the ethical dimensions of the cases, understand our own positions on these cases, and understand the weakness of our own positions. Over the summer, we developed a plan for our program that entailed a three-component syllabus. First, the undergraduates and the people who are in prison will be able to individually cover a distinct set of eight ethics case studies under the guidance of graduate students. By responding to discussion questions included at the bottom of each case, both groups will be able to outline the ethical dimension of their eight cases. During the second part of this program, the Michigan undergraduates will join forces with people who within the prison, and each group, having by this point mastered their eight cases, will be responsible for teaching the other group about the ethical dimensions of their respective cases. Finally, the last three meetings of Aretē will involve an ethics bowl tournament, wherein mixed teams will compete. As we were planning to enter the Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility (WHV) this fall, we quickly learned that gaining entrance to WHV would take longer than we initially supposed and subsequently shifted our timeline, amongst other things, in order to work around this and still continue developing our program.

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