Part Two: Session at the Men’s Prison
If you haven’t already read Part One, you can do so here.
Phot0s and text by Joslyn Rose Trivett, SPP Education and Outreach Manager
Lecture Series students at Stafford Creek Corrections Center were attentive to Liliana Caughman‘s report of survey results. They showed signs of agreeing with all that she shared from program evaluation. They know first hand that they have gained knowledge from the series, that their environmental attitudes have become more positive, and that they prefer interactive, relevant content, just as the results said.
More exciting and illuminating was the quantity and quality of ideas they offered for improving the series and evaluation surveys. Elijah Moloney, Lecture Series Intern, Liliana, and I each circled up with a third of the students present, and gathered many salient observations and recommendations.
We learned that the demand at Stafford Creek to attend the series far exceeds classroom capacity–the sign up is filled almost as soon as it is posted, and many students are disappointed when they are not able to claim a seat. They said we could easily fill a classroom twice the size, and that they would be willing to undergo a pat-down search for lectures held in the much-larger visiting room. Some pointed to the value of inviting/including new folks who could represent new and diverse points of view.
Students also recognized that they prefer more interactive sessions, and want each person to have a chance to give input and ask questions. That points to increasing the number of lectures, perhaps repeating content for morning and afternoon sessions.
The students at Stafford Creek express interest in a huge variety of sustainability and environmental topics. New topic requests I heard were economic and political aspects of climate change—I agree that there is much to learn and consider in that arena! A few students spoke of their frustrations of not having their requests filled, or that they have missed the presentation when their request was met. Again, this points to the desire to increase program access and scope.
One student shared in writing that he was offended by how we described extending the environmental movement to represent all races and cultures. I am still struggling to figure out how to promote increasing environmental equity without suggesting that I am rejecting people who already identify as environmentalists or students of sustainability.
To our surprise, the students generally supported ongoing surveys; they were not experiencing survey “burn out” as we had feared. However, they had concrete suggestions for how to revise them:
- more true and false questions, including some more difficult queries
- since nearly all attending the lecture series have highly positive attitudes about the environment, shift to measuring each lecture’s impact on empowering action
- provide work sheets to fill in during and/or after the session
In our next post we will share what we heard from the sister program at Washington Corrections Center for Women, and divulge the program revisions we have planned in response to the students’ written and spoken input.