Founded in 2015 with the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Justice-in-Education Scholars Program at Columbia University provides educational opportunities to formerly incarcerated individuals. It currently begins with a skills-intensive gateway course: either University Writing (the standard first-year writing course required of Columbia undergraduates) or Humanities Texts, Critical Skills—a literature course, inspired by the Core Curriculum, that encourages reflection, discussion, and debate on questions about the human condition. Both courses are open to JIE Scholars (who are nominated by former teachers and our partner organizations) as well as to all other Columbia and Barnard undergraduates.
The JIE Scholars Program covers the tuition, local travel to class, books, and other costs associated with the JIE Scholars’ ability to complete the course. We utilize relationships with other units on campus to provide support services as needed, such as writing tutoring, academic advising, and peer mentoring. The program also assists Scholars in connecting with social and psychological services. Students who successfully complete the JIE gateway course are encouraged to work with the Justice-in-Education administration to discuss their future education plans, including in some cases taking further classes free of charge at Columbia.
Since the launch of the Justice-in-Education Initiative:
· Humanities Texts, Critical Skills has been offered 6 times; University Writing was offered for the first time in Summer 2018.
· More than 60 formerly incarcerated students have earned college credit for completing one of the two JIE Scholars Program gateway courses: Humanities Texts, Critical Skills and Crafting the Academic Essay. Many have gone on to take additional Columbia classes; some have become matriculating students at Columbia’s School of General Studies.
The Justice-in-Education Initiative is a collaboration between the Center for Justice and Heyman Center for the Humanities, in partnership with The School of Professional Studies at Columbia University.