Emerson Prison Initiative FAQs

Who are EPI students?

EPI provides rigorous liberal arts education to the inaugural EPI cohort of twenty incarcerated students at Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Concord (MCI Concord). EPI does not offer classes at any other facilities. EPI students have a range of preparation for college. Some have taken numerous college classes prior to prison or while incarcerated, some have just completed their GEDs and are brand new to college, and some completed their GEDs or high school diplomas years or even decades ago while either outside or inside prison.

How were students selected for admission to EPI?

Early in Fall 2017, and based on the Bard Prison Initiative’s (BPI) successful admissions model, this first cohort went through a five-step admissions process: an information session, a timed essay exam that was scored by a panel of Emerson and BPI faculty, interviews, and finally the admission of the top twenty applicants. EPI admission is highly competitive – only twenty out of nearly 100 applicants were selected to be part of this inaugural cohort.

What courses have been taught already?

In Fall 2017, Cohort One enrolled in the interdisciplinary first-year seminar IN154 Introduction to Social Theory–Power and Privilege, taught by Dr. Mneesha Gellman. In Spring 2018, EPI students took WR101 Where Nonfiction Meets Poetry: The Personal Essay, taught by Andrew Dugan, and IN208 Rainbow Nation? Race, Class, and Culture in South Africa, taught by Dr. Cara Moyer-Duncan. In Summer 2018, students took SO200 Race and Ethnicity: The Key Concepts, taught by Dean Amy Ansell. In Fall 2018, students took CC100 Oral Communication, taught by Keri Thompson, and TH215 U.S.Theatre and Performance, taught by Dr. Joshua Polster. In Spring 2019, students took LI212 Black Revolutionary Thought, taught by Kimberly McLarin, and VM101 History of Visual Media Arts II, taught by Dr. Miranda Banks. In Summer 2019, they took MT 106 Business Mathematics, taught by Dr. Eiki Satake.

Who can teach for EPI?

Any terminal degree-holding faculty member is eligible to apply. While Emerson faculty will be given priority to teach EPI courses, interested faculty from other colleges and universities are welcome to apply, and will be particularly welcome in fields that have less robust offerings at Emerson.

Why teach for EPI?

EPI students are adult learners who are generally highly motivated, dedicated to the material and process of being in college, and are able to bring their lived expertise to their studies. The pedagogical process of teaching the same content to very different groups of learners across divergent campuses environments has been intellectually gratifying to previous college-in-prison faculty.

How do I apply to teach for EPI?

Interested faculty members should submit a cover letter explaining their interest, relevant background, and availability, along with a complete course syllabus, to the EPI Director. Curricular decisions are generally made approximately nine months in advance of the semester to be taught. Please note that some courses may make excellent offerings but might not fit in the course sequencing of a given semester. Please indicate in your cover letter the preferred semester or semesters that you would be able to teach.

Who may I contact with further questions about EPI? 

You may email the program’s director, Dr. Mneesha Gellman, at mneesha_gellman@emerson.edu.


An EPI student holds a classroom text at MCI Concord (Photo courtesy of MA DOC)