Students across our university lead a national network of scholars dedicated to incarceration reform.
Close your eyes. Feel the tectonic plates of
America’s consciousness shifting. The prison-industrial complex is on shaky
ground. Students from Parsons School of Design, Eugene Lang
College of Liberal Arts, The New School for Social Research, and many
of our renowned New School graduate programs have come together to address this
critical issue. Even President Obama feels the tremors. He acknowledges that
our incarceration system remains skewed by race and wealth, causing Americans
to make up 25 percent of the world’s prisoners while representing only 5
percent of the global population. African-American males are disproportionately
detained compared with their white counterparts — at a rate of six to one — a
shocking statistic that reflects the inequities of our society. All signs point
to the need for the Humanities
Action Lab (HAL) — a network of scholars, art institutions, public
spaces, issue organizations, and more than 20 universities, led by The New
School, that critically investigate incarceration in the United States. The
forward-thinking minds of HAL know that a dysfunctional prison system is a sign
of a troubled society — one that requires seismic change.
The organization’s director, Liz Sevcenko, seeks
to deepen public awareness around long-standing humanitarian issues like prison
reform. This goal has led to HAL’s developing a traveling exhibition, digital
platform, oral histories, face-to-face community dialogues, and interactive
media meant to explore the myriad dimensions of the prison-industrial complex
at the local, national, and global levels. Our interdisciplinary approach to
research allows participants to collaborate and exchange resources in
groundbreaking ways that extend beyond their individual institutions and
unearth a range of issues central to prison reform, including juvenile
detention, reentry support, nonviolent drug convictions, race and class
inequity, childbirth behind bars, and prison design practices. In 2016, the
findings of the Humanities Action Lab will culminate in a nationally traveling
multimedia exhibition designed to inspire discourse around prison reform and
lay the bedrock for the future of American corrections.
With our finger on the pulse of progress, The
New School is a force of human-inspired reform, collaborative design, and
global impact. Be a Force of New.
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