Gateways for Incarcerated Youth

Fall 2021
Winter 2022
Spring 2022
Sophomore - Senior
Class Size: 20
16 Credits per quarter
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This program offers Evergreen students the opportunity to co-learn with individuals incarcerated in a maximum-security institution for juvenile males. It is high-stakes work that demands consistent engagement- approximately 10-12 hours a week in synchronous and asynchronous activities and four to six hours a week at the institution (including travel time). The learning of students enrolled in this program fuels and is fueled by the learning of the incarcerated students.

A fundamental principle of the Gateways program is that every person has talents given to them at birth and valuable experiences that can contribute to our shared learning. It is our job as humans to encourage each other to seek out and develop our passions and gifts. These values are manifested in the practices of popular education, which will serve as both the process and the content of our work. Our goal is to create an environment in which each person becomes empowered to share their knowledge, creativity, values, and goals by connecting respectfully with people from other cultural and class backgrounds. All students will wrestle with topics in diversity and social justice alongside other subjects chosen by the incarcerated students; the main feature of popular education is that it empowers those seeking education to be the local experts in shaping their own course of study.

Popular education works through conscientization, the ongoing process of joining with others to give a name to socioeconomic conditions, to reflect critically on those conditions, and thereby to imagine new possibilities for living. In order to do this work successfully, students will practice learning how to meet other learners where they are at (literally, in order to better understand the conditions that put some of us in prisons and others in colleges). Students will also develop or hone their skills in contextualizing and analyzing socioeconomic phenomena. Most importantly, students will learn that solidarity does not mean saving other people or solving their problems, it means creating conditions that allow them to articulate those problems through genuine dialogue and supporting them as they work toward their own solutions.

Program participants will have the opportunity to reflect on how different individuals access and manifest their learning as they gain experience in facilitating discussions and workshops. In the process of collectively shaping the Gateways seminar, they will also learn how to organize productive meetings and work through conflict. Each quarter, students will take increasing responsibility for designing, implementing, and assessing the program workshops and seminars. Throughout the year, we will seek to expand our collective knowledge about various kinds of relative advantage or privilege while continually working to create a space that is welcoming and generative for all learners.

High-stakes community-based work requires trust, and trust requires sustained commitment. This program requires that all participants be ready to commit themselves to the program for the entire academic year.

In winter we’ll wrestle with a big question: What are the most important things you’ve learned in life? In other words, what do you know? Epistemology is the study of knowledge: how we know things, what counts as knowledge, how we organize it, and how we use it. We'll each ask ourselves what is my most significant knowledge? We’ll each make a long list of things we’ve learned, no matter where we learned it. As a learning community we’ll reflect on these. We’ll write about them. We’ll each choose 10 to expand on and then 5 to deepen further. We’ll need to consider the process of where our knowledge comes from as well as “decolonizing” our thinking, meanwhile we’ll also construct, reconstruct, analyze, and describe what we know and why it's important. Ultimately, this class is about taking an inventory of our individual knowledge; valuing and learning from our life journeys; sharing some of it communally; and learning from each other, our texts, and our guests. Class will consist of seminars, writing workshops, and guest panels. All texts (readings, podcasts, films, photos, poems, art works, etc.) will be provided; you will not need to buy anything for this class. 

To successfully participate in this program, students should have access to reliable internet during synchronous class meetings, an internet-enabled device (computer, tablet, or smart phone), the required texts (online and/or hard copy), and writing and note-taking supplies. Students should expect our remote teaching to be a 70%/30% blend of asynchronous (self-paced) and synchronous (real-time) work using Canvas and Zoom. Students will have access to alternatives to synchronous participation if conditions require.


Fall 2021 Registration

Signature Required

Application and criminal background check for access to Green Hill youth prison.

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 10222
Winter 2022 Registration

application required for new students (please complete by 12/31/21); a criminal background check is also required for access to Green Hill youth prison

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 20188
So - Sr (1 - 16): 20346
Spring 2022 Registration

Application and criminal background check for access to Green Hill youth prison.

Course Reference Numbers

So - Sr (16): 30010

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

Education, psychology, social work, health-related fields, criminal justice.

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$35 spring quarter for a required course reader


In Person or Remote
Hybrid (F)
Hybrid (W)
Hybrid (S)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 E3105 - Workshop


Date Revision
2022-03-22 $35 required fee added for spring quarter