What is a Walls to Bridges (W2B) course?

W2B courses are university based classes that include both students who are or have been incarcerated  and students enrolled at college/university. The classes are for-credit and take place within jails, prisons and community correctional sites.

Where are Walls to Bridges courses currently being offered?

So far, courses have been offered through the University of Toronto, University of Winnipeg, Ryerson University, York University, Wilfrid Laurier University, University of Windsor, Renison College at the University of Waterloo, and the University of Ottawa.

How can Walls to Bridges come to my campus?

It starts with an interested educator attending the Walls to Bridges Facilitation Training, where they learn the pedagogy and how to set up a program. Contact wallstobridges@wlu.ca if you are an instructor wanting to take the training!

I am a Professor: how can I get trained as a Walls to Bridges instructor?

We offer an annual five-day Facilitator Training in Kitchener, Ontario. Contact wallstobridges@wlu.ca for an application. All applicants are interviewed by one of our collective members. Cost for training for 2017 training is $1300 plus HST. SEE TRAINING >

I am NOT a professor; can I still facilitate a W2B class?

Yes! Community-based educators are welcome at our trainings and much needed. People who are not formally affiliated with a university or college often go on to team-teach with a faculty member connected with a post-secondary institution.

How do I take a course?

Students are selected by the instructor. All students must apply to be a part of a W2B class by sending the instructor a letter of interest. Incarcerated students apply through the contact at the correctional facility.  Potential students will be interviewed by the instructor to ensure readiness and suitability for this type of innovative learning experience.  Instructors seeking to offer courses in the community will seek paroled students through halfway houses or agencies with whom they are coordinating (e.g., St. Leonard’s Society, etc.).

Do you offer training for people wanting to work with criminalized populations?

No. Our classes are about learning together as peers and building a community together; they are not training grounds for mentoring, counselling or research. The only training program we offer is for faculty and community educators  who want to facilitate Walls to Bridges classes and to establish a postsecondary program of their own. SEE TRAINING >

Do all students in Walls to Bridges courses get credits?

Yes! Universities that participate in providing Walls to Bridges offer credits to all students who have successfully completed a W2B course.

Will my credits be transferable?

Your credits should be transferable. We thank the registrars at participating schools for making this possible.

What sorts of assignments are given in Walls to Bridges courses?

Assignments include readings, reflection papers and collaborative group projects.  Assignments are designed with the knowledge that not all students will have access to the Internet. Class participation is a very important part of the coursework: respectful listening and self-reflection are as important as spoken contributions.

What are the impacts of Walls to Bridges?

Students report that W2B dispels stereotypes and encourages commitment to social action; they also describe the transformative effects of holistic learning. See “Walls to Bridges: Report on the Impact on Students”.  Further research is forthcoming that will explore the impacts on educators and correctional institutions.

How can I be involved? Do you need volunteers?

Students, instructors and former students often choose to stay involved with W2B in a volunteer capacity, after the semester is over. Unfortunately, as a small program we aren’t able to offer volunteering opportunities to those who have not taken or instructed a W2B course.

What is the difference between the program and the collective?

The Walls to Bridges program refers to classes we offer across the country and the work of the National Hub at Wilfrid Laurier. Walls to Bridges Collectives are groups of former students and instructors who are trained in W2B pedagogy who want to stay connected, offer educational workshops, do research and/or work towards improving access to W2B education. Currently, there are two Collective circles, one that meets at Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, and one that meets in Toronto.