A Columbia University course serving formerly incarcerated men and women is grounded in an understanding of the powerful meliorative effects of education.
I take a seat near the middle of the table at 6:06 p.m. The room soon fills, students clutching coffee, shedding coats; someone brings gummy worms and sends them around the table. At 6:10, everyone has arrived. It is time to begin. Our space on the sixth floor of Columbia University’s Philosophy Hall is long and narrow and dominated by a table that seats 12, leaving 5 students to sit around the periphery with books on their laps. Our community rule is to switch seats every class, preventing a hierarchy from forming between table regulars and the rest.