A member of the Sociology department, Dr. Bryant is a certified instructor for the national Inside-Out program, and since 2009 has taught Corrections: An Inside-Out Course at the Southeastern Correctional Complex (SCC). The course brings traditional college students into correctional facilities to study criminal justice issues with incarcerated individuals. She developed the course based on her belief that the power of experiential learning can create profound educational change, for individuals and for society. She also serves as the liaison for developing Inside-Out course offerings throughout the state. In 2012, Dr. Bryant worked with The Ohio State University Marion faculty to develop an ‘Inside-Out’ course at a women’s prison. She also helped develop an Inside-Out course with faculty at the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University, and has also implemented a process so that incarcerated students receive college credit for Inside-Out coursework.
Dr. Bryant describes immense rewards from the course, despite the major challenges and hurdles of bringing students into a correctional facility, “Benefiting from each other's perspectives and hearing of each other’s experiences, ‘insiders’ (those incarcerated) and ‘outsiders’ (traditional students) learn in ways that would not be otherwise possible--about themselves, about the criminal justice system, and about the power of individuals to create social change. It has been deeply rewarding to observe how students (inside and out) have developed as individuals and scholars by working together.”
During her instruction, she describes witnessing “marginalized individuals and inexperienced freshmen gain a sense of empowerment by deeply researching important social justice issues”, and are then given the opportunity to present their findings and recommendations at conferences, publish academic articles on their experiences and findings, and potentially co-teach classes. Recently, Inside-Out students made recommendations for prison re-entry programs based on their own research, and the recommendations had a real impact on the final decisions for a reintegration dorm. And in fall 2014, the Inside-Out cohort made recommendations for parole reform to an audience of prison and parole board officials and victims' rights advocates.
Dr. Bryant’s efforts are creating real change, from the bottom up, for incarcerated individuals who may not otherwise have a voice. She’s bringing together two groups of individuals that normally don’t interact to research, analyze and conceive new ways to empower, educate and reintegrate a largely underrepresented population.
“It is precisely this kind of innovative civic engagement that represents the best of our university’s outreach and service mission with the goal of enhancing the quality of life in our communities,” William L. MacDonald, Ph.D., Executive Dean of The Ohio State University Regional Campuses.
“[Dr. Bryant’s] ability to instruct the course, manage the views of each student, and to educate her class is amazing. I am no longer surprised to hear the comments of a life changing experience from the inside students; I have come to expect it. Inside students gain the confidence to continue with college courses and many are released to continue their education into the community,” Sheri S. Duffey, former Warden of the SCC.
Hoch Award finalists include: Dr. Kate Magsamen-Conrad (Bowling Green State University), Dr. Penny Bove (Walsh University), and Jannifer Lambdin (Ohio Northern University).