PEI Logo

 

The Prison Education Initiative (PEI) brings Bennington College faculty to Great Meadow Correctional Facility, a maximum-security men's prison in Comstock, New York. The mission of PEI is threefold: 1) to provide a quality liberal arts undergraduate education to incarcerated students; 2) to support lifelong learning in men and women serving life sentences; 3) to foster transformative conversations around prison reform in America.

History

In April 2015, a panel of educators convened at Bennington to exchange ideas and practical advice around the topic of what liberal arts colleges can contribute to higher education in prisons, and what that contribution can mean for both the incarcerated and for the participating colleges. This convening led to the creation of the Prison Education Initiative (PEI) at Bennington College, which launched in fall 2015 at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, New York.

Since PEI’s inception, more than 100 students at Great Meadow have taken courses in subjects that include literature, philosophy, social research, history of thought, architecture, political theory, social psychology, math, computer programming, Latin, and U.S. history.

Since 2020, PEI is also spearheading two initiatives aimed at providing educational opportunities to underserved prison populations. We are building out a more robust scholarly infrastructure to support continuing education among those serving life sentences (a group that comprises 15% of the prison population in America). In addition, we are also building out a new program of individualized tutoring to help bridge the gap between a GED and the expectations of a liberal arts classroom. 

Classroom

Partners

PEI is a member of the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison at Bard College, and is made possible through collaboration with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and Great Meadow Correctional Facility. The program is funded by Bennington College, the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, the Harry J. Brown Jr. Foundation, the William and Mary Greve Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education (through the Second Chance Pell program), and other foundations and private donors.

People

ADG photos
Annabel Davis-Goff
Director, Co-Founder, and Faculty
Barn 208

About Annabel

call adavis-goff@bennington.edu call 802-440-4388
DB photo
David Bond
Co-Founder and Faculty
CAPA 16

About David

call dbond@bennington.edu call 802-440-4324
AW photo
Aila West
Assistant Director and Administrator
CAPA 16
call awest@bennington.edu call 802-447-4267

Spring 2022

ARC 2165P: A Survey of Architectural Concepts
Farhad Mirza

CS 2002P: Python Programming
Amy Moore

HIS 2145P: Nat Turner’s Rebellion
Walker Mimms

LIT 2003P: Reading Moby Dick
Rebecca Boucher

LIT 2004P: The Irish Novel (1890-1990)
Annabel Davis-Goff

LIT 2005P: Orwell
Brooke Allen

LIT 2006P: Homer
Lisa Martin

LIT 4695P: Independent Study: Reading Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed in 2022
Annabel Davis-Goff

MAT 4290P: Trigonometry
Timothy Kane

PAI 2001P: Drawing
Farhad Mirza

POL 2265P: Global Environmental Politics
John Hultgren

Fall 2021

BIO 2001P: Evolution
Betsy Sherman

CS 2001P: Introduction to Computer Science
Amy Moore

HIS 2018P: The Black Jacobins: The Haitian Revolution in History and Memory
Walker Mimms

LIT 2059P: The Year of Lear
Annabel Davis-Goff

LIT 2060P: Vanity Fair
Annabel Davis-Goff

LIT 2555P: Art of the Essay
Rebecca Boucher

MAT 4001P: Calculus
Timothy Kane

PAI 2001P: Drawing
Farhad Mirza

Spring 2021

LIT 2057P: The Regional Novel
Annabel Davis-Goff

LIT 2058P: Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables: The Novel of a Century
Isabel Roche

LIT 4695P: Independent Studies: David Hume and Montesquieu
Brooke Allen

MAT 2000P: Basic Algebra
Timothy Kane

SCT2107P: Social Inquiry in an Age of Upheaval
David Bond

Fall 2020

ARC 2165P: A Survey of Architectural Concepts
Farhad Mirza

HIS 2407P: African-American History: The Founding Era, 1760-1810
Walker Mimms

LIT 2555P: The Art of the Essay
Matthew Groner

LIT 4331P: History of Thought - Books that Still Shape Our World
Brooke Allen

LIT 4523P: War and Peace
Annabel Davis-Goff

MAT 4363P: Pre-Calculus
Kathryn Schonbeck

Spring 2020

APA 2128P: Nature in the Americas
David Bond

LIT 2050P: The Masculine Voice
Annabel Davis-Goff

LIT 4321P: Aspects of the Novel
Annabel Davis-Goff

MAT 2004P: Trigonometry
Timothy Kane

PAI 2001P: Drawing
Farhad Mirza

SCT 2106P: Sociological Imagination
Debbie Warnock

Fall 2019

CS 2001P: Introduction to Computer Science
Andrew Cencini

LIT 2056P: Twentieth-Century American Literature, Part 2
Annabel Davis-Goff

HIS 2015P: History of Thought: The Enlightenment
Brooke Allen

HIS 4108P: History of Thought: Romanticism
Brooke Allen

MAT 2000P: Basic Algebra
Kathryn Schonbeck

Spring 2019

FLE 2001P: The Elements of Latin Grammar
Stephen Shapiro

LIT 2055P: Literature: Conrad and Nabokov
Annabel Davis-Goff

MAT 2003P: Patterns of Geometry
Timothy Kane

Fall 2018

HIS 2106P: History of Thought: The Renaissance
Brooke Allen

LIT 2054P: Twentieth Century American Literature
Annabel Davis-Goff

MAT 2002P: PreCalculus/Calculus
Katy Schonbeck

Spring 2018

LIT 2053P: Beautiful Lies
Annabel Davis-Goff

SCT 2105P: Introduction to Social Research
David Bond

MAT2001P: Introduction to Statistics
Tim Kane

Fall 2017

LIT 4320P: The Victorian Novel
Annabel Davis-Goff

MAT 2000P: Basic Algebra
Katy Schonbeck

PHI 2000P: History of Thought: The Enlightenment
Brooke Allen

Spring 2017

LIT 2052P: Literary Allusion
Annabel Davis-Goff

POL 2113P: Popular Rule and its Discontents
Crina Archer

SCT 2104P: The Atlantic World
David Bond

Fall 2016

LIT 2051P: Literary Narrative: Facets of the Prism
Annabel Davis-Goff

PSY 4205P: SHHH: The Social Construction of Silence
Ronald Cohen

Summer 2016

POL 2101P: Introduction to Political Theory
Crina Archer

Spring 2016

HIS 2105P: The Founding Documents of the United States of America
Elizabeth Coleman

LIT 2050P: The Masculine Voice
Annabel Davis-Goff

SCT 2105P: Introduction to Social Research
David Bond

Fall 2015

LIT/SCT 2001P: Language and Thinking
Annabel Davis-Goff and David Bond

Continuing Education

Preparing for our first college graduation in 2020, we realized about one-third of our students are serving life sentences. For these men, college courses had awakened a curiosity and they expressed a strong desire to continue their education beyond a degree. So we began to build-out novel opportunities to deepen engagements with the humanities for those serving life sentences. In workshops we hosted for prison educators from across the nation, we also realized how substantial this population might be—in American prisons, roughly one in seven inmates are serving life sentences. And yet nearly every prison education program is organized almost entirely around the granting of degrees, a worthy achievement that nonetheless all too often also marks the end of educational opportunities for American prisoners. Encouraged that we were on to something that might serve as a national model for rethinking the humanities in prisons, we began to build out our course offerings, library holdings, assessment metrics, and facility resources to better support the men in our program serving life sentences.