The Alliance seeks to challenge the field of higher education in prison (HEP) to think about the various ways we can use education to close distances. The distances that exist between the “inside” and the “outside,” the disparities in career opportunities and access to resources, the separations of families and communities, the societal gaps between those living securely and those subjected to insecurity, the distances between theory and practice, between our intentions and our impact, and the distance between higher education in prison and higher education outside of prison. There are endless ways in which education can work to close distances and draw us into closer relationship, and the 13th NCHEP encourages us to explore these ways together as a community. In doing so, we push the field to view higher education in prison not simply as curriculum development and delivery, but as a complex ecosystem with symbiotic components. These components must be nurtured and supported to cultivate collaborative learning environments that benefit all: students, facilitators, administrators, and community members both inside and outside of prison.
The NCHEP Planning Team is excited to bring the higher education in prison community to Atlanta, Georgia this year. The selection of Atlanta as the conference site affords the opportunity to learn about the city's rich history of social movements, and to engage critically with questions about presence and absence, spatial and ideological distances, and the latent transformative potential of occupying contradictory spaces. For conference participants experiencing incarceration, virtual presence constitutes a necessary locus for fostering critical dialogue. However, such dialogue transpires within the paradoxical context of a jarring physical absence in the actual city of Atlanta.
The process for choosing a location starts long before the conference itself and is subject to a range of considerations including logistics and accessibility.