Bachelor of Liberal Arts @ the Patuxent Institution

Incarcerated learners

Georgetown College offers a program leading to a Bachelor of Liberal Arts (BLA) degree to incarcerated students at the Patuxent Institution, a prison in Jessup, Maryland.

The program is administered jointly by Georgetown College and the Prisons and Justice Initiative (PJI). PJI was founded in 2016 in order to address the national crisis of mass incarceration, one of the most urgent moral and political issues of our time. In addition to an extensive series of academic and policy events, PJI offers a series of innovative courses to Georgetown undergraduates, including one (Making an Exoneree) that involves direct advocacy on behalf of wrongfully convicted people. PJI has also developed several programs serving incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in the DC area, including both Georgetown credit-bearing courses for incarcerated students (the Prison Scholars Program at the DC Jail) and a certificate program in business and entrepreneurship for returning citizens (the Pivot Program, a collaboration with the McDonough School of Business). In all of its programming, PJI works to better understand the causes and consequences of the mass incarceration crisis, contribute to bipartisan solutions for effective reform, and improve the lives of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people in the DC area and beyond. The BLA program is a significant expansion of the Prison Scholars Program, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, several generous donors, and the entire Georgetown community.

The BLA takes the undergraduate degrees offered on the main campus as a model and point of departure, drawing on the strengths of the College curriculum and the rich history of the liberal arts in the Jesuit tradition in order to deliver a transformative educational experience to highly motivated incarcerated students. The program exposes students to the full breadth of the liberal arts by preserving the structure of the main campus (University and College) core requirements. It shifts to innovative interdisciplinary major courses of study, however, both out of necessity, given the smaller scale of the program, but also out of a desire to offer students enhanced opportunities for integration. The major tracks in the BLA program combine existing programs in the humanities and social sciences into three integrative, interdisciplinary clusters: one in the Cultural Humanities, drawing from programs in Art and Art History, English, the programs housed in Performing Arts, and affiliated FLL and interdisciplinary programs; another in Global Intellectual History, drawing from History, Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, the Political Theory subfield in Government, and affiliated interdisciplinary programs; and a third in Interdisciplinary Social Science, drawing from Anthropology, Economics, Government, Linguistics, Psychology, and Sociology, as well as affiliated interdisciplinary programs in the College. Students in the BLA program will also have access to a full range of academic and support services, delivered through collaborative partnerships between dedicated BLA administrative staff and partners on the main campus.