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Faculty Spotlight: David Coogan

Kick-started by a Community Engagement Grant, David Coogan, associate professor in the College of Humanities and Sciences, developed the Open Minds program, which brings VCU students into the Richmond City Justice Center for a service-learning course.

On equal ground, students and jail residents participate in writing workshops to share their stories and perspectives.

“People who come through the program understand that they’ve just done something incredibly radical. They’ve assembled across the barriers – not only incarceration vs. freedom, but the so-called barriers of race, class, status, criminal history and gender and sexuality differences. They’ve managed to make a mockery of the idea that diversity is a problem. Diversity is what makes this class great. They’ve realized we’ve always been one, and there really is no ‘other.’”

VCU. Make it Real.

For more information, contact Coogan at

As part of the DCE’s 10th anniversary, the division is profiling VCU faculty members who are committed to community engagement. Learn more at