College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

Teaching Biology at Prison University

September 9, 2008

CNR graduate student Rebecca Carter volunteers as a biology teacher at San Quentin prison as part of the Prison University Project. The project offers inmates the chance to take classes towards earning college degrees.

Carter, a sixth-year graduate student in environmental science, policy, and management, has been volunteering at San Quentin for more than four years. In that time her work has evolved from giving guest lectures at first to developing and teaching a statistics class. She has also taught the project's Introduction to Biology class, tutored in math, and co-taught Environmental Science.

As Carter told CNN in their July 20, 2008, story about Prison University, working with her students at San Quentin has been engaging partly due to the inmates' enthusiasm for learning -- even if they are sentenced to life without parole.

An entomologist, Carter studies the evolution and behavior of a group of Hawaiian spiders at CNR.

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