Calvin senior and professor awarded Hatfield Prize


Photo courtesy

Individuals participating in Calvin’s CPI program sometimes attend the Grand Rapids campus after reentry to complete their education.

Senior Emily Steen and Professor Mark Mulder have been awarded a Hatfield Prize for their research on policies and programs to help formerly incarcerated people gain access to higher education opportunities and the kinds of support for those reentering society that might aid community reintegration. 

The Hatfield Prize — funded by the Center for Public Justice (CPJ) — awards funding annually to three student-faculty pairs from Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) institutions to conduct research on policies that impact vulnerable children, families and communities. 

Steen, advised by Mulder, will be working with the Calvin Prison Initiative, which has so far been a “resounding success” for the university, according to Mulder. He told Chimes that many students enrolled in Calvin’s Handlon campus have since attended the Grand Rapids campus post-reentry to complete their education.

“However, transitioning as a returning citizen while pursuing an undergraduate education is not an easy task,” Mulder said.  The research Steen plans to pursue will help Calvin and similar institutions understand how to better support returning citizens.

 “As the United States (and Michigan more specifically) comes to terms with its unsustainable prison-industrial complex and considers further reentry strategies, I hope my research on formerly incarcerated individuals will illuminate the necessity of established networks, education and community in parolees’ lives post-incarceration,” Steen told Chimes. 

Steen and Mulder have been working on research projects together for about two years. Mulder reached out to Steen because “she is clearly highly motivated and disciplined,” and Mulder thought she would be a good fit for the project he hoped to mentor. 

Hatfield Prize winners spend January through June conducting research and writing. Their reports — due in September — must “articulate the normative principles that ought to guide society’s response … and then make practical applications and recommendations for ways in which government and civil society can promote human flourishing in their local communities,” according to a press release from the CPJ.

The Calvin Peacemakers is a restorative justice club that has been involved with state legislation and the Michigan Department of Corrections in partnership with the Calvin Prison Initiative. “Emily came to campus and was motivated in the first month or two to start Calvin Peacemakers,” Mulder told Chimes. Steen is now the president of the Peacemakers.

“The CPJ’s generosity and support means that I can pursue my passions while doing research that will act as the culmination of my college career,” Steen told Chimes. “I am excited to hear stories and testimonies of formerly incarcerated people across Michigan, and the Hatfield Prize allows me to devote my whole focus, time and energy into this project because it deserves nothing less than my all.”