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For ten years, the National Conference on Higher Education in Prison (NCHEP) has served as a space for collaboration, listening, discussion, dissent and debate. It exists as a hub for the exchange of information, and for opportunities to network in support of deepening the important academic, advocacy and activist work happening in #higheredinprison across the country. Bringing all of this work together, the planning committee for the 2020 NCHEP is pleased to invite proposals that advance efforts to strengthen the field of higher education in prison and Amplify Access for students.


The 2020 National Conference on Higher Education in Prison (NCHEP) will mark the 10th Annual national convening of the higher education in prison community. Though we are excited about this historic conference, we acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic affects us all and will shape the conference itself in profound ways, including ways we cannot fully anticipate.We understand the gravity and sensitivity of the situation while at the same time desiring to create a spirit of togetherness in spite of the difficulty. We hope to continue building momentum and strengthening our community while remaining flexible during these trying times.


The 2020 Conference has a central goal: to build upon and mobilize the energy, expertise and experience of the higher education in prison community. Each year, the NCHEP plays a vital role in helping our community expand access to quality higher education in prison, as well as academic re-entry support services, to people who are currently and formerly incarcerated.


The theme for this year’s conference, as chosen by its Planning Committee, is Amplifying Access, which opens doors for a wide range of presentation topics, and to a wide range of possible presenters. We seek proposals that take up this theme in aspirational, transformational, disruptive and productive ways. “Amplifying Access” expresses a call to action to center issues of accessibility and equity across the field of higher education in prison. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we especially invite presentations that address any of the many access-related challenges for the higher education in prison community that we already have or will continue to face (e.g., partnerships, transition resourcing or sustaining funding). We also see “Amplifying Access” as a challenge to the field to think in aspiration always about our work. It is an invitation to embrace the possibilities and challenges presented to our work as it gains popular support, to operate from an abundance rather than a scarcity mindset, and to take the field indirections not yet traveled and through barriers not yet traversed. It is an invitation for growth and innovation.


We envision the conference as a space to imagine creative collaborations and partnerships, strategies and solutions to amplify access and generate productive and accessible conversations. We emphasize “amplifying” access because envisioning new ways to work together is to imagine the future, which could mean alternatives to or the abolition of prisons, equitable access to excellent education inside and outside of prisons, and full opportunities for all people within prisons and in the community. We hope proposals will also think expansively about what “amplifying” could look like.  

We invite and encourage a wide range of proposals from all community members, including but not limited to: activists, academic advisors, artists, college/university administrators, faculty, staff and students, community organizers, people who are currently and formerly incarcerated, department of corrections and prison administrators, higher education in prison practitioners and staff and reentry service providers. For 2020, we especially encourage proposals that highlight training and workshops, the value of collaboration and partnerships and creative forms of expression.


Conference submissions should connect with one of the six conference tracks, which are of particular relevance to the higher education in prison community of stakeholders (listed below).


Proposals by currently or formerly incarcerated participants are strongly encouraged. Guidelines for submission by currently incarcerated people without access to the Internet are included in the general submission guidelines on the 2020 NCHEP website. Additionally, we acknowledge that because of COVID-19 it might be challenging or impossible for people currently incarcerated to submit a proposal and as such we will have an extended deadline for proposals with more than 50% people currently incarcerated as submitters. A full overview of the submission deadlines can be found below. Finally, all proposals should connect to the conference theme – Amplifying Access – as well as the goals of creating an inclusive stakeholder community committed to access, equity and quality in the field of higher education in prison.

Presentation Tracks

  • Collaborations and Partnerships: Working Across Campus, Corrections, and/or the Community
  • Elevating Voices: Narrative, the Arts, and Creative Expression
  • Equity in Policy and Practice: Access, Quality, and Pathways to Campus
  • In the Classroom: Perspectives on Teaching and Learning
  • Surveying the Landscape of Higher Education in Prison: Research, Evaluation, and Assessment
  • The Politics of Higher Education in Prison: Advocacy, Activism, and Abolition

Description of the Presentation Tracks


Presentation Formats

  • Individual Paper Presentation
  • Panel Discussion
  • Performance, Media Presentation or Creative Work
  • Poster Session
  • Work-in-Progress Paper
  • Workshop/Training Session

Description of the Presentation Formats

 Submission Process Timeline

  • Call for Papers Announced: April 6, 2020
  • Submission Deadline: May 11, 2020
  • Currently Incarcerated Submission Deadline: June 30, 2020
  • Submission Review Process: May 11 - May 25, 2020 (July 1 - July 15: Currently incarcerated submitters)
  • Accept/Decline Announcements Sent: June 15, 2020 (July 15: Currently incarcerated submitters)