Inside-Out Course: Dimensions of Freedom

“I have learned two lessons in my life: first, there are no sufficient literary, psychological, or historical answers to human tragedy, only moral ones. Second, just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings” Elie Wiesel

 Inside-Out Course: Dimensions of Freedom

May be taken for PHL or ENG credit

Instructor:  Rev. Thomas Brennan, SJ                     

E-mail:                   610-660-1348

Dr. Elizabeth Linehan, RSM         

Email:                      610-660-1550                              

 Course Description:

This class is a unique opportunity to explore the dimensions of freedom from inside a correctional facility.  The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program brings together students from universities and adult students who are incarcerated to learn about and to discuss the multiple dimensions of human freedom, from  literary, philosophical, and experiential points  of view. The experience of imprisonment will be an important focus of class discussion, and a starting point to examine human freedom and its limits.  Topics include: negative vs. positive freedom; freedom of action vs. inner freedom (thought, imagination, will); political freedom vs. political oppression; the extent to which freedom in any of these senses is a good, worthy of the value we tend to give it.  For each dimension, we will also ask what inner and/or external conditions limit or even preclude its exercise.

The course is being designed in such a way as to take maximum advantage of the unique setting and backgrounds of the students. 

This class will meet on:  Wednesday from 1:30 – 4, but you will need to be available from 12:30 – 5 for travel time.  SJU students will be able to count the course as either an upper division English course, or as a philosophy course (counting for 3rd level GER, for PHL major and for PHL minor). 

Application due by:  5:00 PM on October 11 EXTENDED. Please return applications to:   Thomas Brennan in  MH 135 , or Elizabeth Linehan in B/L 251.

Enrollment from SJU is limited to 15 students.  Preference will be given to seniors and juniors.  The second step of the screening process will be an in-person interview (selected from applicants based on qualifications).








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Please list three appealing things about this course:


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What do you hope to gain by taking this course?







What other academic or extracurricular activities will you be involved in during the semester (e.g. thesis writing, sports teams, etc.) and how will it affect your participation?




May we contact a current or former instructor for a recommendation?  Who might that be?



Do you have an arrest or conviction record? (This probably will not be a problem, but we need to know ahead of time.) 






How did you hear about this course?






Please list blocks of times that you are available for a 20 minute interview.  If you are chosen for an interview, you will be contacted to schedule an interview time.







One writer in criminology calls the United States “the great incarcerator.”  At the present time more than 2 million people in the U.S. are in prison or jail.  The percentage of the US population that is in prison is higher than that of any other developed nation.  Why do you think this is?  Does it present a problem, or is it acceptable?


Please write a concise paragraph or two in response to this question, in the space below.