The Texas Prison Education Initiative offers college-credit courses to incarcerated students in the Austin area. The courses, which span subjects from physics to philosophy, are taught by volunteer instructors and offered at no cost to students. Since it began in 2018, the program has served some 230 students in over 400 classes. But there’s still far more demand than they can meet.
Teaching & Learning
Deborah White and Michael Wynne see themselves and the ASL program they are building at UT Austin as about more than just language. They are a bridge between the Deaf and hearing communities. Their identity as part of the Deaf community is integral to the way that they teach American Sign Language, which is just as much about understanding Deaf culture as it is about vocabulary, syntax, and grammar.
Christy Erving has taught about the sociology of health in general for several years, but it was the realities of life during COVID that steered her to design her new course, “Black Health Matters,” specifically focused on the health of Black Americans. It debuts this fall.
One of the French and Italian department’s Italian Civilization courses, Avalle’s class gives students a tour of Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend” and its Neapolitan context. But more importantly, Avalle says, it introduces students to a new way of thinking about cultures outside their own.
In 2010, with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Carl Blyth launched COERLL. One of 16 National Foreign Language Resource Centers (LRCs) funded by the federal government, COERLL’s mission is to produce and disseminate foreign language educational material that was free for anyone to use, remix, repurpose, and redistribute.
Since it began producing online courses, LAITS has worked with seven colleges and 45 departments, resulting in more than 135 unique undergraduate courses and more than 20 master’s degree courses. They have served more than 190,000 students and provided more than 570,00 credit hours.
UTurn offers academic coaching, peer mentoring, and a dedicated space where students in the program can study, socialize, and support each other. “Most 18–20-year-olds have been almost programmed to think just about getting an A,” says program coordinator Ben Burnett. “And I’m trying to program them to think about themselves and what is the best path for them.”
Over 20 years ago, UT Austin’s Department of Middle Eastern Studies (MES) was characterized by intense volatility and internal conflict. After re-structuring itself around the principles of transparency, democracy, and egalitarianism, the department is now a bastion of support, respect, and cheerful collegiality.
Professor of English Elizabeth Scala teaches a lower-division course in Liberal Arts Honors, E314L: “Literary Contests and Contexts,” nearly every fall. For fall 2022, Scala decided to structure the course around an unusual literary figure: Taylor Swift.
It is not a stretch to say that Orlando Kelm, an associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese at The University of Texas at Austin, is one of the most popular teachers of Brazilian Portuguese in the world. This is thanks to Brazilpod, a collection of podcasts, videos, transcripts, and blogs on Brazilian Portuguese that Kelm and his colleagues have been producing over the past two decades.