Shared Spaces, Shared Learning: University/Corrections Partnerships that Transform Thinking


  • Deborah Smith-Arthur Portland State University
  • Amy Spring Portland State University


Prison education, Community based learning, Engaged learning.


By partnering with correctional facilities, institutions of higher education are well positioned to create shared learning communities that provide profound educational experiences. Portland State University offers several courses involving university/corrections partnerships; these courses meet inside carceral institutions. This article highlights three of these courses and the shared learning spaces they involve. We address the negotiating of these partnerships, development of the courses, and the creation, maintenance and outcomes of these complex learning environments. 

Author Biographies

Deborah Smith-Arthur, Portland State University

Deborah Smith Arthur, M.A., J.D., developed and teaches the Juvenile Justice Capstone, and has been teaching Capstones at PSU in the area of juvenile justice since 2003. She is a former criminal defense attorney, specializing in representing juveniles in adult criminal court, and she is passionate about the intersection of juvenile and criminal justice and educational equity and access. 

Amy Spring, Portland State University

Amy Spring is the Community Research and Partnership Director, in which she works with PSU students, faculty, staff, and community partners to facilitate and support the growth of community partnerships. She has spent a significant part of her career working on institutional change efforts related to engagement, while also facilitating faculty and student workshops focused on community engagement and coordinating recruitment of students and faculty to participate in applied community-based teaching. 


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