Justice-in-Education Initiative

The Justice-in-Education Initiative works with other university and community-based organizations to conduct courses, workshops, and creative projects on campus, in local prisons, and at the Rikers Island jail complex. Our programs open channels of communication and collaboration between Columbia faculty and students, communities affected by incarceration, and the public at large for a more just and socially conscious system of higher education.

Supporting the Incarcerated

The Justice-in-Education Initiative is a collaboration between the Heyman Center for the Humanities and the Center for Justice at Columbia University, along with the Media and Idea Lab of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race. Thanks to the generosity of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we are developing Columbia's capacity to:

  • Provide opportunities for education and leadership development to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women, and to youth from communities at the heart of the incarceration crisis. The programs begin with high-school aged youth and continue through graduate degrees. To date, more than 350 students have completed courses for college credit.
  • Integrate the study of justice more fully into the Columbia curriculum in ways that prepare students to foster a system that embodies the goals of justice and equality and to learn about translating their passion for social change into effective action. We are doing this by working to enhance justice-related components of existing courses, developing new courses and areas of concentration, infusing service learning opportunities into the curriculum, and providing possibilities for engagement in justice research and advocacy.
  • Change public and political thinking about the importance of access to higher education for the incarcerated and the formerly incarcerated. In partnership with other colleges and community organizations, we support evidence-based advocacy for higher education in prisons and jails and for people returning home.