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Author John Edgar Wideman Joins DU Discussion On Prison-Based Think Tanks

MacArthur Fellow and literary-award-winner John Edgar Wideman will discuss think tanks as tools for social justice at Duquesne University's two-day Gaultier Symposium on Community-Engaged Teaching and Research.

The national Gaultier Symposium, which is slated for Thursday, Oct. 9, and Friday, Oct. 10, was developed by Dr. Norman Conti through his Gaultier Faculty Fellowship with Duquesne’s Center for Community-Engaged Teaching and Research. The event is sponsored by the University and its Center for Catholic Intellectual Tradition, and is being held in collaboration with the Association of Applied and Clinical Sociology and The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program.

Off-campus events for the symposium include classes and working sessions at the State Correctional Institute (SCI) of Pittsburgh and the Allegheny County Jail.

For seven years, classes where incarcerated men and college students learn together have been offered by the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts. Conti, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and the Graduate Center for Social and Public Policy, has collaborated with seven men-most serving life sentences at SCI Pittsburgh-to form a think tank as a pilot project for advancing community engagement across campus.

Wideman's brother, Robert, who is the subject of the award-winning 1984 book Brothers and Keepers, has taken three Inside-Out classes while incarcerated and is a founding member of the think tank. John Edgar Wideman, professor of Africana studies and literary arts at Brown University, will deliver Brothers and Keepers 30 Years Later: A Reading, on Oct. 10 at 4 p.m. in the Africa Room. He will then participate in a 5 p.m. panel, titled Think Tanks as Mechanisms for Social Justice, with Dr. Tony Gaskew, director of the criminal justice program and associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford, and rapper-activist Jasiri X. Moderator will be Lenny McAllister, host of PCNC-TV's NightTalk.

Other events include:

Thursday, Oct. 9
Basic Philosophical Questions Inside-Out at the Allegheny County Jail with Dr. Jeff McCurry, director of the Simon Silverman Phenomenology Center, and Duquesne's Justicia Learning Community.

Conti and other panelists will discuss Sociology Inside-Out: Civic Engagement and the Sociological Imagination, 3 to 5 p.m. in the Scranton Room of the DoubleTree Hotel Conference Center.

Friday, Oct. 10
Dr. Lina Dostilio, director of the Center for Community-Engaged Teaching and Research, will moderate a discussion Duquesne University Inside-Out. The 3 p.m. panel in the Africa Room will include alumni speakers and be followed by the Wideman reading and panel. Refreshments will be provided.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.