Washington: Nikhil Pal Singh, an Indian American professor, is leading a unique New York University initiative to bring college education to the inmates of a medium-security prison in New York state.
Backed by a $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation, NYU's Prison Education Programme (PEP) offers credit-bearing, university courses that will enable students to earn an Associate of Arts (AA) degree from the university.
"By expanding access to a university education to incarcerated students, the NYU Prison Education Programme aims to help redress inequities that result from the fact that the United States incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world," said Singh, faculty director of PEP.
US has over two million US prisoners, "the great majority of whom are poor, African American, and Latino," added Singh who is also associate professor in NYU's Department of Social and Cultural Analysis.
Beginning in the Spring 2015 semester, 36 men will take one of two NYU classes taught at the Wallkill Correctional Facility in New York State's Ulster County, with up to three additional courses offered during the summer of 2015.
Classes will be taught by NYU faculty and offer both intensive liberal arts study and introductory courses from NYU's professional schools, according to a media release.
Once released from prison, students enrolled in NYU PEP may seek to continue their college education at NYU or by transferring credits to another institution.
This initiative will also include providing educational and employment counselling, community support for families, and other services such as legal assistance to address human rights, housing, and employment issues.
This semester, Toral Gajarawala, associate professor of English in NYU's Faculty of Arts and Science, will teach "Literary Analysis and the Politics of Interpretation".