May 9, 2018

Dear Friends of the Emerson Prison Initiative:

It has been a very busy semester for EPI, with much behind the scenes work on curricula and program design. EPI students are thriving, rising daily to the challenges of rigorous course work and continuing to ask for more courses, and showing the kind of continual academic progress that makes faculty hearts sing. Below is a brief update on some of our accomplishments.

We had two fantastic courses offered at MCI Concord this Spring 2018, including Cara Moyer-Duncan’s IN 208 Rainbow Nation: Race, Class, and Culture in South Africa , heartily enjoyed by the students, and Andrew Dugan’s WR 101 Where Nonfiction Meets Poetry: The Personal Essay , which pushed students to deepen their authorial voices and grow their writing skills.

For Summer 2018, Amy Ansell, Dean of Liberal Arts, will step back into teaching, offering her SO 200 Race and Ethnicity: The Key Concepts course. This coming Fall 2018, Josh Polster will teach TH 215 U.S. Theatre and Performance , and Keri Thompson will offer CC 100 Oral Communication , a required first year course that all Emerson first year students pass through as they develop their critical communication skills.

Student Involvement

Emerson students on the Boston campus were very excited to find ways to volunteer with EPI in its first year. Chesirae and Mason, Emerson undergraduates, produced a promotional clip for the EPI website that will be finalized this summer, Rahul and Chesirae helped build the EPI website, and Elise and Amanda assisted in gathering peer reviewed articles for EPI students in Fall 2017. Thanks everyone!

Library Support

Bob Fleming and the Iwasaki library staff have been a wonderful resource for EPI, and developed a research material request form that allows EPI students to request access to Emerson’s holdings. Bob’s team takes the hard copy requests that faculty bring from MCI Concord, looks up articles to match the requested subjects, and create packets of articles for faculty to take back to EPI. We are still ironing out how to get more library resources to EPI students, but this is a great innovation for the meantime.

Amy Ansell, Bob Fleming, Ruhksar Palla, and myself are facilitating research in the Emerson archives regarding Emerson’s historical roots in education in prison. Did you know that Emerson faculty coached a debate team at Norfolk prison in the 1930s-50s? Well, we hope to soon learn more as we dive into the Emerson archives. If anyone is interested in participating in this research, please get in touch!


In EPI’s first year in operation, we have run on a shoestring. With contributions from Emerson, the Bard Prison Initiative, and a handful of dear and generous donors, we were able to raise enough funds to offer two courses per semester this past year, and for the year to come (thank you!) We continue to seek funding to offer additional summer classes, and also to be able to admit the next cohort of students. Word has gotten around at MCI Concord that EPI is the place to be, and we have much more potential student interest than we can currently meet.

There are a range of ways to give. See for more information. No gift is too small, and we appreciate your support of increasing access to higher education for incarcerated students at MCI Concord.

EPI’s Visibility

Our website now exists, and will soon have updated photos from our own classes courtesy of the MA Department of Corrections. Check out, and stay tuned for Fall 2018 events at Emerson’s Boston campus!