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Rikers Education Program

Overview

The Rikers Education Program (REP) provides opportunities for young people at Rikers Island (ages 16-21) and Columbia University students and faculty to engage in college-oriented education programming. Through arts and humanities mini-courses focusing on social justice issues, REP seeks to kindle the interest of incarcerated young adults in education, while encouraging reflection on justice and social responsibility.  REP works with Columbia faculty and graduate students as well as community partners to develop and implement a wide range of education programs that utilize a variety of approaches including social justice pedagogy, collaborative project-based learning, restorative practices and more. REP seeks to increase access to quality education for students who are incarcerated, to develop culturally responsive education programming, to cultivate positive social emotional development and to support students to think critically about issues of social justice.

Videos

Interview with Sahar Ullah

As a Public Humanities Fellow at the Heyman Center for Humanities, Sahar Ullah taught a storytelling class in the Rikers Education Program.

Interview with Natacha Nsabimana

As a Public Humanities Fellow at the Heyman Center for the Humanities, Natacha Nsabimana taught a class on social justice in the Rikers Education Program.

Courses

Beats, Rhymes & Justice

A collaboration with Audio Pictures LLC., uses digital music production, lyric writing and media literacy to engage young people in producing and recording songs at Rikers Island.  Students learn to create and record songs using iPads and music production software and also critically examine a variety of works from hip-hop artists including Tupac, Nas and Kendrick Lamar.

RikersBot

A collaboration with the Group for Experimental Methods in the Humanities at Columbia University, is a coding workshop and an algorithmic storytelling project set in and about Rikers Island.  Students learn coding by creating an automated Twitter acount (Twitter Bot) and collectively write stories in tweet form.  The Rikers Bot project gives all participants a chance to have their voices heard, to learn to code, and to gain real-world experience in writing, editing, and producing a project.

Building Justice Studio in Architecture and Urban Design

A collaboration with Columbia University architecture professors, brings the architecture studio to Rikers Island where Columbia and Rikers students explore the foundations of architecture, design and urban planning. Students work together to design, create, and re-imagine what a neighborhood can look like culminating in a presentation of their work to the Architecture professionals and classmates.

Game Design Studio

A collaboration with The Games Research Lab at Teachers College Columbia University, brings Columbia and Rikers students together to explore the foundations behind video game design and marketing. Students work together to conceptualize, outline, and generate games on a variety of platforms that allows them to use the power of storytelling and narratives to create their own video games.

ARTE

A collaboration led by Art and Resistance through Education (ARTE),  students reflect on gender equality and justice through art. Students learn about the life and legacy of prominent women artists. Through short media clips, interactive games, and drawing activities, students will have an opportunity to explore gender equality and sexism. The workshop will introduce art skills and techniques.

Cyphers for Justice

Led by Cyphers for Justice, participants develop Critical Literacy skills through hip-hop, spoken word, and visual literacy and develop their own personal counterstories that speak back to dominant representations of themselves and their communities. Participants use hip-hop and spoken word to create tracks for their mixtapes and design album covers after critically analyzing several designs

Aesthetic: Justice and Poetry

A collaboration with Ife Ko Nira and Aesthetic.  Students critically examine issues of incarceration, education and social change through reading and writing poetry.

Creative Writing: The Power of Storytelling

Students will create original stories, and develop the public presentation skills to perform their stories for audiences. Using examples from classical Arabic literature, we will ask ourselves: "Why do we tell stories? How do stories record the histories of the cultures that produced them? What does my story to tell about me and my culture?"  The workshop series will conclude with students performing their stories for each other.

Coding with ADDA

Over the course of three workshops, students learn all the skills necessary to build a website from the ground up. This includes how to code in HTML (HyperText MarkUp Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), or build things in the computer languages used on the internet. Additionally, facilitators teach basic design skills for screens, and how to best communicate information in website form. The goal is to provide practical skills that can be useful in one’s personal life (to build a website for a musical group or a business) and extremely helpful to put on a resume. Instructors for the courses include women engineering students from the Barnard and Columbia University, and volunteers from The Coding Space (non-profit which teaches children how to code).

Poetry/ Creative Writing

This intensive creative writing program offers a blend of small workshops, group writing sessions, and reading and analysis of poems, short stories, and essays which will inspire students to experiment with new approaches and modes of creativity. Students grow as a writer, hone their creative skills, and deepen their passion for the writer's craft. Workshops are led by MFA students in Creative Writing program at Columbia University. Student work will be collected and published in a zine, to be shared with participants.

The Science of Psychology

Students engage in reading, writing, discussion, and visual art to learn about the scientific methods used by neuroscientist to identify personality traits.

Social Enterprise Assembly is a program that teams Columbia and Rikers Students together in teams to develop an idea and an abbreviated business plan for a social enterprise start up, a for-profit business that also contributes to the public good.  Students brainstorm what issues in their community they would like to address, what kind of business they would want to start and then combine the two to create the vision for a social enterprise.  Students learn the basics of a business plan and what it takes to start a business.

Reel Justice Works

A collaboration with the Critical Media Society and the Hip-Hop Education Center, hosts film screenings and critical media literacy workshops that teach students how to use visual media as a tool for both social change and personal development.  Students learn how to be critical consumers of media, get exposure to careers in the film industry and work to create pitches for feature films and documentaries.

Graphic Design: Empowering Women with Media LIteracy

Students will learn to critically analyze the messages in popular media, including magazines, advertisements, and music; they will use iPads to develop aesthetic and technical skills in graphic design, using Adobe professional software; and they will build social/emotional skills while working collaboratively to create an original magazine, from cover to cover.

Studio Art

Students create original works of art using watercolor paint, oil pastels, pencils, and collage materials.   

NYC Museums Outside In

Representatives from the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum, and the Queens Museum will visit RMSC, leading discussions about current exhibitions, followed by activities inspired by the exhibits.

Rethink - Critical thinking discussion group

Philosophers lead discussions about topics like authenticity, democracy, truth, moral responsibility, power, sexism, testimony, and more.

Peace Poetry

A creative writing and art workshop

Students will read excerpts from medieval texts about peace by public intellectuals like Christine de Pizan (14-15th century political scientist) and Teresa de Cartagena (15th century nun interested in the intellectual value of women in a man's world). Students will write and illustrate original poetry and prose in response to the readings.

Facing History Workshop

In addition to practicing reading and writing as academic skills while learning about American history, students make the essential connection between history and the moral choices they confront in their own lives.This workshop engages students in an examination of inequality and prejudice in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.

Writing  Life

Students will strengthen reading and writing skills while reflecting on important life moments. They will discuss texts by prominent authors such as Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, and then write their own creative non-fiction.  The class will produce a compilation of their work as a literary journal. Taught by Natacha Nsabimana, graduate student in Anthropology at Columbia University

ADDA - Coding with Athena Digital Design

Young women will learn to write code to make a website with The Athena Digital Design Agency, an organization run by Barnard College students.  ADDA believes that code is a tool that people use to solve real-world problems. The first workshop will be about how to put content on a website, and the second will show students how to style the website. ADDA looks forward to hearing student ideas about how apps or websites can help people in their community!

Storytelling

Students  create original stories, and develop the public presentation skills to perform their stories for audiences. Using examples from contemporary American and classical Arabic literature, we will ask ourselves: "Why do we tell stories? How do stories record the histories of the cultures that produced them? What does my story to tell about me and my culture?"  The workshop series will conclude with students performing their stories for each other.  

ARTE - collaborative mural design

Columbia's Justice-in-Education Program will collaborate with ARTE to engage young women to reflect on gender equality and justice through art. Students will learn about the life and legacy of prominent women artists. Through short media clips, interactive games, and drawing activities, students will have an opportunity to explore gender equality and sexism. Students will also have an opportunity to share examples of inspirational qualities of global women leaders, encouraging positive self-esteem and leadership. The workshop will introduce art skills and techniques, and culminate in a collaborative mural.

Art Workshops – Ringgold;  ARTE/ Frida Kahlo; Romare Bearden

In a series of one day studio art workshops, students will learn about the life and legacy of prominent women artists and make original works inspired by the work of  these artists.

Executive Edge - Resumes,Interviews

In this workshop students will use Microsoft Office Word to write resumes, and practice  one-on-one interviews, including commonly asked interview questions, body language and and networking.