Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Expert Advocates Freeing Minds of Prisoners to See Potential

Max Kenner speaking at Smithsonian's American Ingenuity Awards.The powerful impact that higher education has on prison culture and incarcerated individuals was recently brought to the fore by Smithsonian honoree Max Kenner, founder and executive director of the Bard Prison Initiative. On Oct. 16, Smithsonian magazine announced the winners of the third annual American Ingenuity Awards. Among the 10 honorees was Max Kenner of the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), a leading advocate for the national restoration of college-in-prison programs. In his speech, he told the audience that by providing incarcerated men and women with educations comparable to any college student, they become inspired and, perhaps for the ­ first time, see their place in the world. Many have felt marginalized, heard that higher education wasn’t for them or felt disconnected from society. Engaging in intellectual pursuit and ­finding purpose changes not only the individual, but his or her relationships with family and the world, according to Kenner.

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