Jennifer Lackey

Curriculum Innovation Award, 2020

From The Office of the Provost

"Jennifer Lackey, Professor of Philosophy, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

“Inspiring students to examine the crisis of mass incarceration in the U.S. through a philosophical lens”

Lackey will design a course that brings together Northwestern undergraduates and incarcerated students enrolled in the Northwestern Prison Education Program (NPEP) to study the philosophy of punishment and incarceration.

The course will enable students to examine, through a philosophical lens, the causes and consequences of the incarceration crisis in the United States, which is home to 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of its prisoners. Students will investigate the racial and socioeconomic roots of the punitive approach the U.S. has taken to criminal justice, imposing lengthy prison sentences and harsh conditions of confinement, and providing very few educational, vocational or recreational programs. Evanston-based students will travel weekly to Stateville Correctional Center to attend class with NPEP students. Together the students will study and analyze competing theories of punishment, explore connections among incarceration, race, and poverty, and collaborate to develop theoretical and practical approaches to these issues. Because the course will explore issues that NPEP students face every day, they will be able to provide a valuable firsthand perspective and contribute to a meaningful learning experience for their Evanston-based classmates.

Lackey is the founder and director of NPEP, the only degree-granting program in the state to provide a liberal arts curriculum to incarcerated students. NPEP is a collaboration between Northwestern’s School of Professional Studies and Oakton Community College."

Jennifer Lackey, Sepehr Vakil, and Sarah Van Wart have been named the 2020 recipients of The Alumnae of Northwestern University’s Award for Curriculum Innovation for helping create courses for undergraduate students.