Who We Are

We are educators, first and foremost, who believe in the transformative power of a liberal arts education. Spearheaded by Director Kathy Fox, and housed in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at the University of Vermont (UVM), the Liberal Arts in Prison Program (LAPP) is a demonstration of the University’s commitment to its land-grant mission as well as our active engagement in social justice.

What We Do

LAPP sponsors courses that provide UVM students with opportunities to participate and collaborate in enrichment activities with incarcerated women and men in two correctional facilities: Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF), which is the state’s women’s facility, and Northwest State Correctional Facility (NWSCF), which is a men’s facility in Swanton, Vermont.

The collaborative enrichment activities consist of seven-week “short courses” led by UVM faculty. For example, in fall 2022, UVM dance instructor Julie Peoples-Clark is leading a yoga/dance class at CRCF centered on the concept of the “goddess.” Eight UVM students and up to eight incarcerated women are participating. The class allows time for different kinds of dance and movement as well as prompt-inspired journaling. In fall 2021, Associate Art Professor Pamela Fraser led a group of UVM students and incarcerated women in a class centered around designing and painting a mural for the dining space at CRCF. During the 2023 spring semester, members of the UVM Lawrence Debate Union, under the leadership of debate coach Justin Morgan-Parmett, will teach a debate class to a group of women inside the women’s prison, while Political Science Professor Alec Ewald will run a book discussion group with UVM students and men confined at NWSCF.

All these activities are funded by donors to the LAPP program and support the UVM land-grant mission of serving all Vermonters. The UVM students gain experience interacting with those incarcerated in our state facilities and learn about life “inside” while engaging in collaborative experiences that enrich the lives of all the participants.

Why We Do It

UVM has a strong tradition of social justice and service. Incarcerated communities benefit from having additional opportunities available due to the role of community volunteers. Engagement between college students and justice-involved populations is a mutually rewarding experience. We believe strongly that justice-involved individuals benefit from having such enriching opportunities and experiences. In addition, students’ experiences in and understanding of their communities often deepen their learning by doing service projects. What happens within our justice system is everyone’s concern and responsibility—students should and do care! 

UVM Student Involvement

LAPP represents an extraordinary learning opportunity for UVM students and incarcerated citizens alike. UVM students will have opportunities to participate as classmates, mentors, tutors, and remedial educators. They will experience the criminal justice system from a unique vantage point, and will have first-hand interaction with incarcerated citizens. Not only will this add a unique and important element to their educational experience, it will also inform and influence their perspectives and decisions as future voters, hiring officials, and policy makers.



campus - university row

The Liberal Arts in Prison Program in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Vermont was established on March 20, 2017, when the university joined the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison at the invitation of the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI). To commemorate the event, Daniel Karpowitz, director of policy and academics at BPI, visited UVM and delivered a talk to more than 200 faculty, staff, students, and community members. Karpowitz told the story of how the Bard Prison Initiative grew from a small pilot project to a national network, and read from his book College in Prison: Reading in an Age of Mass Incarceration. LAPP is the result of the long-time efforts of UVM Professor Kathryn Fox and her subsequent collaboration with Assistant Provost Kerry Castano and Associate Dean Patty Corcoran. Fox, LAPP’s inaugural director, made the initial foray into prison education in Vermont in spring 2017 when she taught a course in a local correctional facility to a combined group of UVM undergraduates and incarcerated citizens.

The program paused during the height of the pandemic and began again in fall 2021 as LAPP 2.0. In the new iteration, UVM students join those in confinement at the correctional facility to engage in meaningful activities such as mural design, painting, dance, and yoga. These activities provide enrichment for both those incarcerated and the students, who also learn more about prisons while sharing time and space with a different, broader community than they normally have access to.

Interested faculty can present their ideas for enriching short courses (e.g., debate, book discussion groups, etc.) and students from across UVM are invited to enroll to experience this unique opportunity.

LAPP Milestones

Spring Semester 2017:  Professor Kathy Fox offers a sociology course at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility including both UVM students and incarcerated citizens

March 20, 2017: UVM joins the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison

April 7, 2017: LAPP awarded a grant from the James M. Jeffords Fund Grant Program for Policy Studies

May 12, 2017: LAPP awarded a grant from the Bishop Joyce Fund



Tessie SakaiBroadening the academic conversation to new minds and voices

"In the 2018 spring semester, I served as a teaching assistant in a mythology course. This course was offered in a women’s prison as part of UVM’s Liberal Arts in Prison Program, directed by prof. Kathy Fox. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but I thought I might gain teaching experience and I was glad to give back to the community. This became far more than a volunteer experience: I gained compassion for the incarcerated and their families, a new outlook on the classroom, and even increased familiarity with Greek and Latin mythology. We read foundational works of mythology, such as Hesiod’s Theogony, Homer’s Odyssey, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and students were held to the same standards as those on campus. . . . Seeing these women continue their education and critically engage with primary and secondary source materials, even under the constraints of the prison environment, reinforced the value of opening the broader academic conversation to new minds and voices. Learning does not need to be confined to the traditional lecture hall, and studying classics has lasting value academically, personally, and professionally that applies beyond the bounds of a four-year undergraduate career." - Tessie Sakai '18


If you’d like to support the Liberal Arts in Prison Program, click on the link above or contact:

Kathy Fox, Director, Liberal Arts in Prison Program, College of Arts and Sciences

Alli Lambert, VP for Development, UVM Foundation


University of Vermont College of Arts and Sciences News 11-11-2022
Liberal Arts in Prison Program Fosters Greater Understanding


WCAX-TV, Burlington
UVM Profs, Students Bring Courses to Prison

UVM Quarterly, Spring 2018 issue
Life on the Inside

Quarterly U.S. News and World Report, May 17, 2017
U of Vermont to Start Teaching For-Credit Courses in Prison

New England Cable News, April 18, 2017
University of Vermont to Offer College Courses to Prison Inmates

Burlington Free Press, March 27, 2017
UVM to Teach For-Credit Courses in Prison

VT Digger, March 24, 2017
UVM Announces New Liberal Arts in Prison Program

University Communications, March 22, 2017
UVM Announces Liberal Arts in Prison Program

Kathy Fox, Director of UVM's Liberal Arts in Prison Program, teaching a course in Vermont's
Northwest State Correctional Facility for men in Swanton, Vt.



Kathy Fox, Director, Liberal Arts in Prison Program
College of Arts and Sciences
University of Vermont
438 College Street
Burlington, VT 05405