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.

2019-20 Combined Course

Reading & Writing the Poetry of Community

This class will be a year-long exploration of questions about poetry & community: What does it mean to be a poet? What does it mean to be part of a community? What do you get & what do you give? Who are your people, & how do you know? Is your community connected to where you come from? Where you live? To your neighborhood, your identity, your work, your country, your body, your mind? How are poetry & community connected?

Along the way, we'll read the poetry of June Jordan, Lucille Clifton, Joy Harjo, Natalie Diaz, Roque Dalton, Pablo Neruda, Adrienne Rich, Judy Grahn, Patrick Rosal, Shane McCrae, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Solmaz Sharif, Dionne Brand, Ari Banias, Jayne Cortez, Chrystos, and the great poet Anonymous, as well as writing, reading, and discussing poems written by the students in the class. The first semester will be slightly more focused on reading, with in-class writing exercises & short assignments. The second semester will be slightly more focused on writing, including the making of a short collection of original poems by the end. Required: curiosity, courage, and the dedication to reading & writing better on the last day of class than you did on the first.