Honors faculty often engage students in service-learning and community-engaged courses to help students learn curricular concepts, develop skills in responsible citizenship, and positively impact their community. Authors consider how the greatest impact honors students can have may sometimes be through bearing witness rather than through direct service or volunteering. This essay explores a case study involving a community partnership between an honors college and a local non-profit serving incarcerated youth, where the primary goal is to bring the writing and voices of young, incarcerated authors into the college classroom and give their stories a wider audience. Authors describe the iterative development of this ongoing partnership, exploring its impact on curriculum, students, and the community partner. Adding to existing scholarship on successful community-engagement partnerships, this essay proposes that integrating written work of incarcerated youth in the college classroom creates an opportunity for honors students to read as a form of bearing witness to the lives and struggles of marginalized voices. In addition to transforming student learning, this project enhances the community partner’s work by honoring the experience and amplifying the voices of incarcerated youth.
Lauren Collins, Amelia Hawes, Jorgia Hawthorne, Nicole Gomez, & Erin Saldin, (2021). Reading as Bearing Witness: Incorporating the Voices of Incarcerated Youth in Honors. Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, 2021, 22(2):87–99