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Higher education, behind bars

March 29, 2004

Photo of the sign at the entrance to the California State Prison San QuentinEnglish Professor Judy Breen recently found new inspiration in her life and career a couple years ago when she began teaching college-level classes to inmates at San Quentin State Prison.

For one month this semester, Breen had nine SFSU students serve as teaching assistants in her English 101 class at the prison two evenings a week. The SFSU students, who are receiving three units of independent study for their work, facilitated small-group discussions with the inmates on several essays written by George Orwell.

This unique classroom collaboration was featured Monday in a San Francisco Chronicle feature article.

"I wanted to bring together students from very different university communities," Breen said in the article. "I thought they both had a lot of misconceptions about each other, and a great deal to learn from each other."

Breen and her students will give a presentation on their San Quentin experiences Thursday, April 22, on campus. The specific time and location are not yet scheduled. For more information, contact the Graduate Literature Association at (415) 338-2342 or

-- Matt Itelson







San Francisco State University

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Last modified July 27, 2004 by University Communications