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Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative & Brandeis University Press Present: Unlocking Learning: International Perspectives on Education in Prison

February 15 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Unlocking Learning: International Perspectives on Education in Prison

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Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative & Brandeis University Press Present: Unlocking Learning: International Perspectives on Education in Prison

Join the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative & Brandeis University Press for a conversation with Justin McDevitt and Mneesha Gellman, editors of Unlocking Learning: International Perspectives on Education in Prison, the latest book in the Brandeis University Press Series in Law & Society. McDevitt and Gellman will be joined by international contributors Lise Øen Jones (Sweden) and Greg Skrobotowicz (Poland) and the conversation will be facilitated by Tanishia Williams, Brandeis University Kay Fellow in Education, Racial Justice, and the Carceral State. This event is co-sponsored by the Brandeis University Press, the Brandeis Educational Justice Initiative, and Brandeis Programs in Legal Studies, International Global Studies, and Education. 

RSVP here to join us in person in Rapaporte Treasure Hall, with refreshments and a book signing to follow, and learn more about our contributors and moderator below. 

This event will include a live webinar and will be recorded. Contact us with any questions at or 781-736-3025. Co-Sponsored by: Legal Studies, International and Global Studies, Education, BEJI, and Brandeis University Press. 

Justin McDevitt is the director of the Women’s College Partnership, a program of the Notre Dame Programs for Education in Prison (NDPEP) in the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame and in collaboration with Marian University and the Bard Prison Initiative. Before that, he served as assistant director for alumni affairs and reentry for the Moreau College Initiative, also a program of NDPEP and in collaboration with Holy Cross College (IN). Justin has taught courses in American politics, urban politics, race and politics, global migration, and interfaith dialogue. Justin holds a juris doctor (J.D.) from Loyola University Chicago, where his work included field research on labor migration in Chile, farm workers’ rights in central Illinois, and gender-based violence in Tanzania. He is currently completing his Ph.D. in American politics at the University of Notre Dame, where his dissertation research focuses on the political development of collateral consequences of felony convictions. He is also co-founder and executive director of Life Outside, a not-for-profit reentry organization based in South Bend, Indiana.

Mneesha Gellman is associate professor of political science in the Marlboro Institute for Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies at Emerson College. She is the founder and director of the Emerson Prison Initiative, which brings a BA pathway to incarcerated students at state prisons in Massachusetts. Gellman is the editor of Education Behind the Wall: Why and How We Teach College in Prison (2022). Gellman is the author of Indigenous Language Politics in the Schoolroom: Cultural Survival in Mexico and the United States (2023), and Democratization and Memories of Violence: Ethnic Minority Social Movements in Mexico, Turkey, and El Salvador (2017). She has published widely in both academic journals and popular outlets on a range of issues having to do with democracy and human rights. Gellman serves as an expert witness in asylum cases in U.S. immigration courts for people from Mexico and El Salvador.

Lise Øen Jones, Ph.D., is a professor at the Department of Psychosocial Science at the University of Bergen. She has published articles and book chapters on reading and writing difficulties among prisoners, prisoners’ efficacy beliefs in reading and writing, and pupils and teachers’ ICT use in school. 

Dr. Grzegorz Skrobotowicz, Ph.D., MBA, is an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Executive Law, Faculty of Law, Canon Law, and Administration at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland (KUL), Skrobotowicz received his Ph.D. in 2012 from KUL. His dissertation was entitled Mediation in Criminal Proceedings: Enforcement of Mediation Settlements in Research. During his residency, Skrobotowicz will give a lecture on why mediation, an extremely important tool for restorative justice, is rarely used in Poland, and discuss challenges and opportunities in Central Europe.

Specializing in urban politics at the intersection of race, gender, and class, Tanishia Lavette Williams obtained a Ph.D. from the Public and Urban Policy program at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School. Broadly, Tanishia’s research examines curriculum adoption (namely Culturally Responsive Pedagogy), policy, and educational disparities with a focus on the achievement and life outcomes of Black students. Based on her experience as a superintendent, executive director, principal, and teacher in school systems undergoing extensive reform, Tanishia’s focus on education aims to connect praxis and theory. Her contributions to school-based pedagogues and contemporary literature leverage the historicity of race relations within the law to modern policy and infrastructures that impact public education.  In essence, Tanishia’s scholarship examines how racism permeates systems through existing legal structures that buttress the subordination of minorities through racialized hierarchies. Her current multi-sited research exposes the varied tensions, contradictions, inclusions, and exclusions that co-exist in public education, focusing on a specific anti-racist intervention meant to increase student achievement among the marginalized.

Cover Image of Unlocking Learning: International Perspectives on Education in Prison


Brandeis University Press
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Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Brandeis Library
415 South St
Waltham, MA 02453 United States
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(781) 736-2000
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