Justice-in-Education Scholars Program


Founded in 2015, the Justice-In-Education Scholars Program is part of the JIE Initiative—a joint initiative of the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities (SOF/Heyman) and the Center for Justice at Columbia University. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the JIE Initiative aims to increase educational opportunities for those directly affected by incarceration. The JIE Scholars program makes it possible for highly motivated returning citizens, upon successful completion of the admissions process, to take credit-bearing courses at Columbia.

Justice-in-Education (JIE) Scholars, who are enrolled as special students in the School of Professional Studies at Columbia University, are required to complete two gateway courses: the skills-intensive credit-bearing course Genres of Academic Writing (open to all Columbia undergraduates) and the non-credit-bearing modules in Transitioning to the College Classroom – Learning Strategies for Academic Success, designed as an introduction to the specific educational environment of Columbia.

The JIE Scholars Program covers tuition and fees, local travel to class, books, and other costs associated with the JIE Scholars’ ability to complete the gateway courses. Scholars who successfully complete both JIE gateway courses work with the Justice-in-Education adviser to develop their future education plans. Those earning a grade of B+ or above in Genres of Academic are eligible to continue to take Columbia courses free of charge. Credits earned at Columbia may be transferred to other colleges and universities, should JIE Scholars wish to pursue completion of their college degrees at other institutions.

JIE Scholars receive advising and tutoring support, as well as the opportunity to interact with peer mentors and to be mentored by Columbia Emeriti faculty.  We provide re-entry support and advising, especially with regard to housing, health, parole, and other issues that might affect the ability to complete courses successfully. The JIE Scholars Program collaborates with the JIE-dedicated legal team at the Initiative for Just Society.

Prospective JIE Scholars must be nominated by a teacher, usually working with a prison education program, occasionally by the head of a re-entry organization, and in exceptional cases by JIE alumni.* If you are interested in becoming a JIE Scholar, ask one of your teachers to recommend you for the program.  We will then invite you to meet the Advising Team, who will discuss the program with you in further detail. If the program seems appropriate for you at this time, we will invite you to submit an application, consisting of a student information form, a personal statement, a writing sample, and teacher recommendations.  Once your application is complete, you will be interviewed by the course instructors and program directors. We are currently accepting applications for the 2022-2023 cohort.

  • To date, we have admitted over 120 returning citizens to the JIE Scholars Program, many of whom have come to us through our Prison Education Program (which has supported over 500 students since 2015).

*In rare instances, we have accepted applicants to the JIE Scholars Program by self-nomination, provided that self-nominating applicants can procure recommendations and transcripts.

For more information contact Justice-in-Education Scholars Academic Adviser Dr. Neni Panourgiá (np255@columbia.edu), Re-entry Coordinator Ivan Calaff (ic2412@columbia.edu), or Associate Director of the SOF/Heyman Center Lindsey Schram (ls2553@columbia.edu).

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Justice-in-Edu Initiative Transforms the Lives of Prisoners

Interview with "Humanities Texts, Critical Skills," instructor Dan-el Padilla Peralta and Justice-in-Education Scholar Issac Scott

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Justice-in-Education Scholars Video Series: Lisette Oblitas

We’re pleased to share the inaugural video in a new interview series created by Justice-in-Education scholar Isaac Scott.

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Justice-in-Education Scholars Video Series: Anisah Sabur


Humanities Texts, Critical Skills

The goal of this seminar is to equip students with critical tools for approaching, reading, and striving with literary and philosophical texts—ancient as well as modern. To this end, we will be working closely with a set of texts that range in date from the 8th/7th c. BCE to the late 20th century CE. Our seminar will operate on the assumption that we cannot know “what” these texts say or “what” their authors mean unless we come to grips with how they say what they say and how they mean what they mean. In pursuit of some answers, we will master the skill of reading quickly but carefully, balancing attention to the literary craft of our texts with scrutiny of their underlying arguments and agendas. Ultimately, however, none of this will matter much if you are not convinced by term’s end of one (nowadays far from universally accepted) claim: that becoming a good reader of texts can make you a more constructive and more empowered contributor to your community and your society. It will be the instructors’ responsibility to pitch this claim to you, and your responsibility to question it.

Every week, we will pair a text with a theme and see where the pairing leads us. We have chosen the themes to orient us as we grapple with some of the key discourses structured into and perpetuated through our texts: self/Other, class/status, gender/sex, race/ethnicity. The thematic pairings are not meant to confine or limit our critical intervention; you are more than welcome to resist the thematic pairings and/or propose your own. As the term progresses, we will encourage you to apply your critical skills to scrutiny of and resistance to this syllabus. Why read these texts/authors (and not others) in this particular order? What is at stake in what and whom we choose to read?

Last Instructors / Semester
Nicole Callahan, Dan-el Padilla / Spring 2017

Past Instructors:
Anne Diebel, Emily Hainze