Scientists increasingly seek to respond to urgent calls for equity in science but may be unsure how to engage with underserved public groups. Prisons, jails, and detention centers are venues in which scientists may use their educational privilege to serve and empower diverse populations that are underserved by science education and underrepresented in science disciplines. We reversed the lens that traditionally focuses on the benefits of public engagement to the audience by documenting the impacts of delivering science lectures on the scientists who offered seminars to incarcerated people. The scientists who engaged in carceral settings gained professional benefits, shifted their preconceptions of incarcerated people, raised their perceived value of community engagement, and increased their interest in social justice. Some took direct actions for social change. This program could model effective engagement for other underserved groups in our society. We provide guidance to initiate such a program in other institutions.

This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (