TEDxArcadiaUniversity Speaker: Lori Pompa
Lori Pompa has been going in and out of prisons and jails since 1985. She has been on the faculty of the Department of Criminal Justice at Temple University since 1993, and is Founder and Director of The Inside-Out Center at Temple University, the International Headquarters of The Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program. For the past 15 years, Inside-Out has created opportunities for social change through transformative education, involving individuals inside and outside of our nation’s correctional facilities, working together through dialogue and collaborative problem-solving in classrooms behind prison walls.
As a 2003 Soros Justice Senior Fellow, she collaborated with others on both sides of the prison wall to develop Inside-Out into a national model of transformative pedagogy. To date, 310 instructors from 175 colleges and universities in 37 states and abroad have taken part in the intensive, weeklong Inside-Out training, with nearly 300 Inside-Out classes offered so far (involving 10,000+ students) and dozens of classes conducted throughout North America each semester. Classes are offered in disciplines spanning the social sciences, the arts, and the humanities – in prisons and jails throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Since beginning at Temple, she has taught approximately 120 courses, predominantly in the area of corrections, and employs an experiential learning methodology in all of her teaching. She has taken many more than 12,000 students into prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities, through tours and other exchanges. In addition to her work with this program, Lori Pompa is considered an expert in correctional issues, race and racism, hands-on experiential learning, and civic engagement, and served three years as Director of Temple’s College of Liberal Arts’ Office of Experiential Learning.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the essential nature of what it means to be human – and our capacity to examine ourselves, challenge ourselves and, when necessary, reinvent ourselves. I have learned that we all have capabilities that far exceed our imagination.
How does your life tie into our theme (Creativity and Passion in Leadership)?
When I first set foot in prison 27 years ago, I was deeply disturbed by what I saw. This disturbance fueled my passion for justice. Fifteen years ago, I created a college class, through which folks inside and outside of prison come together – as equals – to talk about and work on crime, justice, and related social issues. In the process, lives – of both the inside and outside participants – have been transformed in ways that could never have been predicted. It is my lifework – and there is nothing that I would rather be doing in the world.
- “Breaking Down the Walls: Inside-Out Learning as a Pedagogy of Transformation.” Book chapter in an edited volume, Empowerment or Incarceration? Reclaiming Hope and Justice from the Prison-Industrial Complex, Stephen John Hartnett, editor. University of Illinois Press. 2011.
- “Service-Learning as Crucible: Reflections on Immersion, Context, Power, and Transformation.” Book chapter in an edited volume, Service-Learning in Higher Education, Dan W. Butin, editor. Palgrave. 2005.
- “Disturbing Where We are Comfortable: Notes from Behind the Walls.” Reflections: A Journal of Writing, Service Learning, and Community Literacy. Winter 2004.
- “Service-Learning as Crucible: Reflections on Immersion, Context, Power, and Transformation.” Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning. Fall 2002.