Bedford Hills Correctional Facility Combined Course




Since 1997, Sarah Lawrence has been a part of a consortium of schools (Marymount Manhattan College, Mercy College, Pace University, Bank Street College, Barnard College, and Manhattanville College) supporting the Bedford Hills College Program, a degree-granting program through Marymount Manhattan College. The program was created to ensure the women of Bedford Hills had continuing access to higher education after Pell and TAP grants for incarcerated individuals were discontinued. To date, well over 1000 women have earned college credits through the program, and over 200 women have earned associates and bachelors degrees in two majors—Sociology and Politics & Human Rights. Fourteen- to 16-credit courses of all levels are offered each semester, and about 180 women register and attend classes. All degrees are conferred by Marymount Manhattan College, and the program follows Marymount's curriculum.

The Combined Course started between Sarah Lawrence College and Marymount Manhattan College in 2013. In this course, half of the students are from Sarah Lawrence and the other half are students from the degree-granting program at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. To date, the Combined Course has been a writing class focusing on a variety of topics.

2021-22 Combined Courses

Women's Stories: Fiction Workshop
Carolyn Ferrell, Writing faculty
Fall 2021

The author Jane Smiley writes, "Every story or novel has dual citizenship. It event in the life of the writer and it is also an event in the life of the culture.I like to think of the writer producing a book, but also of the writer entering into the world of books and being produced, as a writer, by all the books that have come before." In this writing workshop, we will study aspects of story craft and technique-what makes a story a story, what gives a story its shape, what makes a story interesting to others-as we explore the creative expression of women writers. Through investigations into their fiction, poetry and non-fiction, we will hopefully come to understand our own ambitions as authors and write the stories we most urgently need to tell. Weekly readings and writing exercises will be assigned; authors we read will include Grace Paley, Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison, Lynda Barry, Jamaica Kincaid, Daisy Hernandez, Julie Otsuka and Domenica Ruta. Over time we shall develop our skills as readers and thinkers, sharing our work in an atmosphere of support and constructive criticism.  

The Politics of Addressing the Past: Apology, Repatriation, Reparation and Remembrance
Elke Zuern, Politics faculty
Spring 2022

In June 2020, a Pew Research Center poll found that almost 7 in 10 Americans surveyed reported having conversations with family or friends about racial equality in the last month. This is a dramatic shift for a country that as a whole has often sought to repress painful histories and inequalities. Just as the Occupy Movement opened discussion of income inequality in the US with the slogan “we are the 99%”, today signs declaring “Black Lives Matter” appear in places we might not have expected them just a few short months ago. This increased attention provides a unique moment for deeper ethical, political, social and legal discussions of the ways in which states and societies have responded to violations of the rights of groups of people.

This course will investigate various ways of addressing the past from official forgetting to remembrance, apology, repatriation, and reparation. What is the best course of action in the aftermath of gross violations of human rights? Which responses are feasible in a particular context and how might the possibilities shift over time? What impact might apologies have? Why have reparations been won in some cases but not others? Our discussions will consider the needs of victims as well as the interests of states and the possible contradictions between the two. We will focus on the role of power in the international system and international law as well as the ways in which seemingly less powerful groups have engaged and challenged prominent international actors. Case studies will include, but are not limited to, Native American demands for the repatriation of remains, Jewish struggles for restitution in the aftermath of the Holocaust, as well as Japanese-American and African-American campaigns. We will also consider the role of narratives and memorials in expanding the discussion concerning reparations for slavery and the ways in which demands for justice gain traction among the general public.