Carol Kalin serves as a judge for a debate among inmates

Carol Kalin, who teaches Introduction to Critical Writing in LPS, recently served as a judge for a debate among inmates at the Cybulski Community Reintegration Center, the pre-release unit of the Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution, a minimum-security men’s prison near Hartford, Conn.

The debate was part of a prison English workshop offered by Second Chance Education Alliance, a non-profit organization led by Erin Corbett, a classmate of Kalin’s in Penn’s Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management program.

Corbett moderated the debate, with Kalin and two others as judges. The topic was animal testing; the ‘pros’ won.

The debate was similar to that of writing an Op-Ed, says Kalin, with arguments, counter-arguments and evidence presented. The participants, mostly young adults, were strong debaters, according to Kalin.

“I was surprised by the breadth of their thinking,” says the native Kansan. ”Some brought in poetry, science, philosophy. They were thoughtful and well read.”

The event marked Kalin’s first time inside a prison, though not her first experience with prisoners. During her 20-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service in Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, among other countries, she occasionally helped Americans who had been imprisoned. (Her highest rank was Deputy Ambassador).

Kalin’s biggest lesson from two decades’ diplomacy? ”We can actually live with difference. We can agree to disagree and still get along.”

Kalin, who earned a degree in French from the University of Kansas and a Master’s in Economics from the New School for Social Research, began teaching Critical Writing at Penn in Fall 2013.