National Directory of Higher Education Programs in Prison
In 2008, the Prison Studies Project created the first nationwide directory of higher education programs in U.S. prisons. Searchable and continually updated, the directory is an online, state-by-state listing of primarily on-site degree-granting postsecondary education programs in prisons. As a joint initiative with the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice and currently housed at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, PSP aims to increase educational opportunities for people who are incarcerated in all 50 states by supporting those who run higher educational programs in prison. When completed, it will serve as a preeminent domain for a national clearinghouse on postsecondary education in prison.
In September 2008, Kaia Stern and Bruce Western launched the Prison Studies Project (PSP) at Harvard University to promote informed conversation about the challenges of mass incarceration. Born out of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice and currently housed at the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, PSP’s mission is to awaken the broadest possible public to the ways we punish, and to reimagine justice in the United States. Since its inception, PSP has been committed to raising public awareness, teaching college courses inside prison, and injecting into the public conversation a discussion of policy alternatives. Our work has focused on research, education and policy change.
Who We Are
Co-Founder & Director
Kaia Stern is cofounder and director of the Prison Studies Project, which began at Harvard University in 2008. Her work focuses on transformative justice and education in prison. Her first book, Voices from American Prisons: Faith, Education and Healing was published by Routledge (2014). Recognized as a national leader, her contribution to the Greenhaven Prison Program at Vassar College, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, Vera Institute of Justice, Kings County District Attorney’s Office, The Riverside Church, Open Society Institute, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race & Justice at Harvard Law School, Boston University’s Prison Education Program, Concord Prison Outreach, and the U.S. Department of Justice has facilitated work with numerous schools and prisons in various states for the last twenty-five years. She is currently a Faculty Fellow in the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University and Visiting Faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she leads the Transformative Justice Series.
Bruce Western is Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, Visiting Professor at Columbia University, and Distinguished Visiting Research Professor at the University of Queensland in Australia. He received his BA from the University of Queensland, Australia, and his PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Western’s research examines trends in American economic inequality and the growth of the US penal population. These topics are joined by an interest in the shifting landscape of American poverty over the last 40 years. As a quantitative social scientist, Western has also studied the application of Bayesian statistics and methods for the analysis of economic inequality. He is currently vice-chair of a committee studying the causes and consequences of high incarceration rates for the National Academies of Sciences and will lead an Executive Session at the Kennedy School on the future of correctional policy. He is the author of the award-winning book, Punishment and Inequality in America.
Sameen is currently pursuing her masters in International Education Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She strongly believes that everyone has the right to access quality education and is working to ensure that formerly incarcerated people are given a second chance through higher education. Sameen graduated from Austin College with a B.A. in Sociology and Political Science. She has globetrotted from teaching at an orphanage in Pakistan to studying social and political conflict in Ireland to pursuing a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship on the island of Borneo. While in Dallas, she was a Marketing Associate at an education nonprofit where she helped lead the organization’s marketing and communication projects through the creation of websites and digital and print publications. Sameen is also a website developer and created this website that you’re currently browsing! If you’re in the market to develop or improve your website, reach out to her.