Erin Corbett and Breea Willingham

Aug 18, 2022

The Journal of Higher Education in Prison

New Books Network 2022

Welcome to The Academic Life! In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • How both of today’s guests became involved in higher education in prison.
  • Why this work is personal to them.
  • Funding and representation issues in higher education in prison.
  • The complexities of supporting students who are incarcerated without supporting the carceral system.
  • And a discussion of the Journal of Higher Education in Prison.

Our guest is: Dr. Erin Corbett, who earned her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, where her dissertation examined the relationship between educational attainment level and post-release employment outcomes for formerly incarcerated people in Connecticut. While pursuing her doctorate, Erin launched a nonprofit that provides not-for-credit, postsecondary level courses in three correctional facilities in Connecticut. She has also taught in correctional facilities in Rhode Island with College Unbound, and guest lectured to incarcerated students in the Iowa through the University of Iowa Liberal Arts Beyond Bars (UI LABB) program. Erin was the Assistant Director for Applied Research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy focusing on federal policy related to the intersection of higher education policy and policy related to educational access for justice-impacted people; and she was the Director of Policy at the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice before transitioning to working with SCEA full time and consulting.

Our guest is: Dr. Breea Willingham, incoming Associate Professor of Criminology at UNC Wilmington. Dr. Willingham earned her Ph.D. in American Studies from the State University of New York at Buffalo. As an interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Willingham’s research examines the intersections of race, gender, higher education, and the injustice system. She is particularly interested in examining Black women’s pathways to incarceration, their experiences with higher education in prison, and providing a platform for Black women impacted by the injustice system to tell their stories. Influenced by her experiences as a sister and aunt of two men serving life sentences, Dr. Willingham’s research also focuses on the societal ramifications of mass incarceration, especially its impact on families. Her work on incarcerated fathers and their children, Black women’s prison narratives, teaching in women’s prisons, and Black women and police violence has been published in academic journals and edited collections. In 2020, Dr. Willingham was appointed Managing Editor of the Journal for Higher Education in Prison, a peer-reviewed journal that publishes on the topics and issues in higher education in prison.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, the co-creator of the Academic Life.

Listeners to this episode might also be interested in:

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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