In June of 2023, MTC began partnering with San Quentin TV (SQTV) to provide educational programming on the televisions in San Quentin. The idea arose from student requests during COVID lockdowns. Students were eager to find ways to continue learning and connecting with the college when classes were canceled, and television programming seemed like a good opportunity to allow for this continued learning. The programming is also not limited to just MTC students; Correctional Officers and non-students can watch the videos on any of the many TVs throughout the prison.
There are 15 different themes, each of which is presented in partnership with another organization or local business. Themes last for anywhere between three and six weeks, and include Yoga with the Mandela Yoga Project, Business Ethics with San Francisco State University’s Center for Ethical And Sustainable Business, On Writing with Green Apple Books, and Afrofuturism and Ancient Egypt with UC Berkeley.
Our hope is that this partnership with SQTV will help create a wider college culture that extends beyond the Education Building in San Quentin. TVs are found throughout the housing units, which make up a substantial portion of the prison and are an area we have extremely limited access to. We believe this programming is a way to foster educational discussions beyond our “campus” and allow students and other individuals at San Quentin to have access to educational material and it will spur engaged conversations.
The current partnership between MTC and SQTV will go until March 2024, at which point we will host a discussion forum with students to learn what they thought of the programming. We will discuss how they engaged with the programs, if there was a theme they wanted more content on, if there are themes they are interested in that we did not include, and if there is anything about the program they want to change. We are looking forward to hearing their feedback and hopefully continuing to provide educational programming in partnership with SQTV.
This is where the wider MTC community comes in: if there are any models of successful educational TV programs you have seen that you would like to bring to our attention, please reach out! We’d also love to know if you have any open-source or open-access materials you would like to share with us. Please email our Dean of Academic Administration, Nandita Dinesh, at firstname.lastname@example.org.