humanities research, educational resources, student autonomy, Taconic Correctional Facility


Humanities courses make up a large portion of higher education courses offered in United States carceral facilities. However, many of these facilities lack the academic resources necessary to support the research assignments traditionally assigned in a humanities course, from research papers common in introductory courses to the undergraduate theses completed by many humanities majors. This paper outlines a case study in adapting a humanities research assignment to function in a prison lacking digital and physical research resources, with particular attention to the assignment’s potential to promote student confidence, independent learning, and autonomy. The author surveys the instructor’s role in promoting “Inquiry-Based Learning,” a pedagogy that emphasizes active learning, and the challenges that the prison environment presents in helping students take on the role of active researcher. Finally, the paper considers the long-term benefits of preserving research assignments despite the logistical obstacles, particularly for students pursuing further higher education after release.

Author Bio

Kevin Windhauser is a PhD Candidate in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. He has taught academic writing at Taconic Correctional Facility in Bedford Hills, New York, and has helped design curriculum materials for Columbia University's Justice in Education Initiative. Currently, he is designing a public humanities project supported by the Heyman Center for the Humanities devoted to developing academic library resources in New York prisons.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


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