Columbia & JIE.

Increasing connections, promoting knowledge

We are changing the ways we talk about justice on campus, starting with integrating the study of justice more fully into the Columbia curriculum.

Courses at Columbia

The Justice-in-Education Initiative provides Columbia students and faculty with an interdisciplinary framework for understanding criminal justice issues by supporting the development of new course offerings within the curriculum that engage contemporary issues of justice.

We have gathered a sample of courses related to prisons, carcerality, and mass incarceration taught at Columbia University.

Prison Education and Social Justice Pedagogy

The University Seminars at Columbia University is an ongoing community of partnerships, each of which is constituted by scholars from multiple academic departments and disciplines, often including experts from outside academia, and is devoted to the study of an institution, practice, or issue of theoretical and/or practical importance.

This workshop prepares Columbia University and graduate students to teach in prison contexts; to help alumnae/i of prison programs take advantage of on-campus opportunities; and to contribute to an on-campus Special Concentration in Social Justice.

The work has theoretical and practical components.  Participants read texts together that consider the relationship of prison education to prison abolition activism; that take up the special pedagogical circumstances that obtain in most prison contexts; and that analyze the intertwined economic structures, racial systems, and carceral formations that challenge social justice initiatives and prove their necessity.  The workshop invites participants who already teach in local prisons; those with an interest in doing so; alums of those programs; and faculty and grad students with an interest in developing a roster of campus courses that could contribute to a special undergraduate concentration in social justice in which a commitment to justice finds expression in coursework linked to solving real-world problems.

Professor Jean Howard

Patrick Anson

See the full schedule here.

The Leros Humanism Seminars

The Leros Humanism Seminars/LSH/ΣΛ are a series of yearly intellectual encounters to take place on the island of Leros in the first week of July. Starting with the inaugural event in the week of July 3rd, 2023 (event page here), the seminars seek to bring together scholars, artists, and activists along with college students and post-graduates (from Greece and abroad), as well as interested local population, in order to (re)consider collectively the multifarious premises of the human as individual and as social living-being while engaging different discourses and practices of conflict, communication, and coexistence.

This Seminar Series on Leros is a minimum tribute to this magical island that provides so many reasons for stochastic reflection, pushes our limits of comfortable thought, and challenges the conceptual certainties on what is a place, what is space, what is existence, what is the human being, what is confinement, what is order and what disorder, who is familiar and who is a stranger, what are the amplitudes and the limits of belonging. It has done so in perfect dissonance with its physical environment, which is nothing short of sublime.

The broad objective of the seminars is to field anew the question of “what is human?” and how the answer to this question is determined in numerous registers of history and life by reconceptualizing humanism away and against its established and unexamined presumptions.

Standing in the midst of these domains, the seminars will seek to problematize, interrogate, affirm, and posit specific questions that look back in history and into the present future to test the capacity of humanist practices. How does the humanism of the anti-colonial era address the dehumanization of populations in the present? Can human beings assimilate technologies in an ontological sense, as posthumanists claim? Can we think about the human as a living being determined by politics, beyond the Aristotelian political animal? How can human beings as an ontological condition continue to stand in the context of anthropological (racial, sexual, cultural) differences? Can we think about the human as the non-ontological cornerstone of the social? Can we, or should we, revisit “species-being?” In the following years, each one of these topics will be the framework for each year’s seminar.

The seminars will be conducted in a two-fold structure:

  • During the first two days of the seminar cycle we will hold three roundtables each day. Each roundtable will be an interaction among participants from different disciplines, actions, and registers. There will be no concurrent sessions. There will be a 3-hour break in the middle of each day for personal leisure and exploration, taking advantage of the beauty of this unique island. We imagine that the intellectual encounters of the conference will very well continue off-stage in these settings.
  • The third day, the seminars will shift into a day-long workshop for graduate students and faculty run by volunteers from the seminars on topics proposed by the workshop faculty. The purpose of these intensive sessions will be explicitly pedagogical and student-focused beyond the typical parameters of the Anglo-American academy.


Neni Panourgia, Justice in Education Initiative,

Stathis Gourgouris, ICLS, Department of English, Director, Program in Hellenic Studies,