AC Big Ideas Course: 'Prison'

The 'Big Ideas' courses introduces a new exciting format to the UC Berkeley classroom in which faculty and students from different disciplinary viewpoints are brought together around a pivotal concept. In the Spring of 2014, Patricia Hilden (Ethnic Studies) Jonathan Simon (Law) Jill Stoner (Architecture) and Victoria Robinson (Ethnic Studies), taught the first AC Big Ideas course: Architecture 180AC/Ethnic Studies 181AC/ Legal Studies 185AC 'Prison'.  This course brings the subject of prisons, and the prison system to the fore of the undergraduate AC curriculum. As Professor Jill Stoner shared:
"Prisons are mostly at the periphery of our intellectual landscape, just as they are now relegated to the hinterlands of our constructed landscape. I look forward to discovering the intersection of countless cultural and intellectual threads in the American cultural complex called 'Prison'."
The pilot course, enrolling 300 students, is an innovative development in the AC curriculum and designed to allow for both enrolled students and the faculty teaching the course to learn more from one another. As stated by Professor Jonathan Simon:
"The very endurance of the prison in our society testifies to the powerful anchors it has throughout our culture and yet the nature of professional scholarship narrows our understanding of the phenomenon even as we become more "expert."  This chance to co-teach with three colleagues working from very different intellectual resources is a chance to understand the prison, long my subject, but once again."  
This is also the first 'Big Ideas' course to involve local Bay Area community organizations in the student learning activities as well as a host of artists and social media practitioners in the design of research based internships.