Bard Prison Initiative
The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) offers credit-bearing course work leading to associate’s and bachelor’s degrees at three long-term, maximum-security prisons and three transitional, medium-security prisons in New York State. At these six sites, incarcerated students are engaged in robust course work in the humanities, foreign languages, sciences, mathematics, and studio arts. They also complete the five pillars of the Bard curriculum: the Language and Thinking and Citizen Science programs, First-Year Seminar, Moderation, and the Senior Project. Through BPI, Bard College has conferred nearly 500 degrees to incarcerated men and women. Increasingly, BPI alumni/ae are leaving prison and pursuing careers in private industry, the arts, social services, health professions, the nonprofit sector, and academics.
In addition to operating its six New York State sites, BPI has founded the national Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, based at Bard College. The Consortium cultivates and supports new programs at other colleges and universities as part of an ongoing initiative to expand quality college-in-prison opportunities across the United States.
Founded by Max Kenner ’01, the Bard Prison Initiative continues to have a profound effect on the intellectual life of the College. Each week, students at the Annandale campus visit regional prisons and volunteer as tutors in advanced math, languages, academic writing, and other subjects. Many of these volunteers go on to graduate school or to careers related to their involvement in BPI.