The Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison, based at Bard College in New York, joins together innovative college-in-prison programs across the country. Its members share the view that a liberal education can transform the lives of individual students, and our public institutions, in ways that far exceed the prevailing responses to crime, punishment, and the need for change.
The liberal arts are not defined by a fixed curriculum but rather by a commitment to rigorous methods, the questioning of conventions and received belief, and the empowerment of human reason through open and critical inquiry. The very features that make it important for cultivating a democratic society suggest the unique role that liberal education can and should play inside prison.
The Consortium currently includes Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Grinnell College in Iowa, Goucher College in Maryland, and Bard College in New York. Each builds on its own traditions and particular strengths, and each is committed to learning for its own sake. Yet each is also finding new ways to realize the power of the liberal arts to prepare people returning from prison for a life of personal flourishing, civic engagement, and professional success.