Wednesday, 07 July 2021
Charles Darwin University
Dr Adelle Sefton-Rowston. Image by Julianne Osborne
Dr Adelle Sefton-Rowston. Image by Julianne Osborne

Territory lecturer to research prison education programs in America

Territory lecturer Dr Adelle Sefton-Rowston has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship to travel to Alabama to research state-of-the-art prison education programs in the United States.

Dr Sefton-Rowston’s goal is to support inmates to express themselves through creative writing, to increase self-confidence and morale.

Fulbright scholarships support 12 weeks of study in the United States, where outstanding researchers have an opportunity to broaden their professional, educational and cultural horizons before returning to share their experiences with their home community.

Dr Sefton Rowston is a Senior Lecturer in Literature, D-Lab Chair, and a Co-Associate Dean in CDU’s College of Indigenous Futures, Education and the Arts, and the 17th CDU student or staff member to receive the prestigious award.

“I’m honoured to receive this and I’m excited by the opportunity to teach literature and creative writing across fifteen correctional centres in Alabama,” Dr Sefton-Rowston said.

Dr Sefton-Rowston will be working under the guidance of Kyes Stevens, Director of the Alabama Prison Arts and Education Project at Auburn University.

“In some ways prison education can be seen as a luxury, not a right,” she said.

“I want to change attitudes about that, because when inmates are punished instead of being educated, they become more traumatised and more resistant to citizenship.

“The term we use for this is ‘voice poverty’—when being marginalised and disenfranchised hinders a person’s voice and their participation in social and political life.”

Dr Sefton-Rowston said that Alabama has similar issues to the NT in terms of overrepresentation of Black people in incarceration.

And there are big prison education conferences, but there’s nothing like that in Australia, so she hopes to learn from their progressive work in prison education and reform.

“I hope to return to the NT with a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with other prison educators,” she said.

“I’d also like to connect with other Fulbright recipients who can plug me into the alumni pipeline to build on what we’ve learned in the United States and Australia in the area of prison education and reform.

Dr Sefton-Rowston hopes to travel to the United States in mid-January 2022.

Find out about CDU’s previous Fulbright scholarship recipients and how to apply.