Student applications open for inaugural fall Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program

March 24, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Students from across Penn State who are interested in an inaugural course offering from the Restorative Justice Initiative and the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications may apply online for the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program that will take place in the fall semester.

The three-credit special topics media course will bring eight to 10 Penn State students inside the prison at SCI-Smithfield in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, to learn alongside incarcerated students within the facility.

The purpose of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program model is to facilitate dialogue and education across profound social differences. These courses bring together traditional college students and incarcerated students in jails and prisons for a semester-long learning experience.

The pilot course will be facilitated by Shaheen Pasha, an assistant teaching professor of journalism in the Bellisario College. Pasha previously taught a similar explanatory journalism course at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, which brought college students inside a local county jail to learn and report alongside incarcerated students.

Students across disciplines and majors will be considered for acceptance in the program. Interested individuals may fill out an online interest form.

Applications will be open until April 5. Students will then be contacted for one-on-one Zoom interviews with Pasha. Acceptances will be notified shortly thereafter.

Given the rapidly changing situation with COVID-19, there is a possibility the elective course could be delayed but, at the moment, recruiting for the fall is actively underway. Questions regarding the course or the application process can be sent to Efrain Marimon, director of the Restorative Justice Institute (RJI) at or Pasha at

RJI is a University-wide coalition of faculty members, graduate students, staff and community groups dedicated to restoring and empowering individuals that are incarcerated through education and meaningful engagement in civic life.

Last Updated March 25, 2020