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For more information about the Emerson Prison Initiative, click here.

Gellman, Mneesha (Ed.) (2022). Education Behind the Wall: Why and How We Teach College in Prison. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press.

Summary: This book seeks to address some of the major issues faced by faculty who are teaching college classes for incarcerated students. Composed of a series of case studies meant to showcase the strengths and challenges of teaching a range of different disciplines in prison, this volume brings together scholars who articulate some of the best practices for teaching their expertise inside prison, alongside honest reflections on the reality of educational implementation in a constrained environment. The book not only provides essential guidance for faculty interested in developing their own courses to teach in prisons, but also places the work of higher education in prisons in philosophical context with regards to racial, economic, social, and gendered identities. Rather than solely a how-to handbook, this volume also helps readers think through the trade-offs that happen when teaching in prison, and about how to ensure the full integrity of college access for incarcerated students.

Read an article about the book here.


2020. “Higher Education Access and Parity: The Emerson Prison Initiative's Bachelor of Arts Program.” In Dani McMay, V. & Rebekah Kimble, D. (Eds.), Higher Education Accessibility Behind and Beyond Prison Walls (47-66). Hershey, PA, USA: IGI Global.

Text available for purchase here

Summary: Included in a book examining program development and pedagogical techniques in the area of higher education for students who are currently incarcerated, this chapter presents the Emerson Prison Initiative (EPI), which offers a pathway to a Bachelor of Arts in Media, Literature, and Culture to incarcerated students at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Concord. A program of Emerson College, EPI serves Emerson’s mission to increase educational access for historically marginalized students, including those in prison, and maintains rigorous standards for academic excellence for students and faculty comparable to those at Emerson’s Boston-based campus. EPI is rooted in the notion that access to a college education can help transform how people engage in the world.


2019. “Documentary provides rare look at higher education in prison.” The Conversation. 11/22/19. Available at:

Full text available for free

Summary: This article breaks down key elements from the explorative PBS documentary “College Behind Bars,” including the structure of higher education in prison, a fiscal breakdown of prison education programs, and the life-changing impacts of these programs on students.

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