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Bard College Catalogue 2021-22
Bard Prison Initiativebpi.bard.edu
The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) offers credit-bearing coursework 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 coursework 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. BPI students have earned more than 600 Bard College degrees. BPI alumni/ae who have left prison are now pursuing careers in private industry, the arts, social services, health professions, the nonprofit sector, and academics. More than 1,000 incarcerated students have enrolled over 20 years, and more than 600 alumni/ae have returned home.
In addition to operating its six New York State sites, BPI 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 for joint seminars and as tutors in advanced math, languages, academic writing, and other subjects. Many of these tutors go on to graduate school or to careers related to their involvement in BPI.
BPI students and alumni/ae are the focus of an Emmy-nominated documentary film series directed by Lynn Novick, produced by Sarah Botstein, and executive produced by Ken Burns. College Behind Bars aired on PBS in 2019.