Mission statement of different institutions of higher education sounds fresh to me, an international student. I did a quick search after I first heard about it in the class, it turned out that in my country, China, and other Asian countries, even some European countries, mission statement of higher education institutions was not that common. A big doubt I had with it was that, mission statement of a whole higher education institution usually was just a paragraph of words, not even a long paragraph, can a general description really help us understand more about that institution very well?
I started to look into mission statement of different higher education institutions with this doubt. Due to my personal interest, I chose two special focus institutions focusing on art and design. One is Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, England, another one is Rhode Island School of Design in Rhode Island, USA.
“The mission of Rhode Island School of Design, through its college and museum, is to educate its students and the public in the creation and appreciation of works of art and design, to discover and transmit knowledge and to make lasting contributions to a global society through critical thinking, scholarship and innovation.” — Rhode Island School of Design
For Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, England, it is a unique independent architectural school since it is self-governed, self-motivated and self-funded. They didn’t offer an official mission statement, but they did provide description of their mission and vision in their general introduction.
“We have a broad commitment to bringing issues of contemporary architecture, cities and the environment to a large public audience, and we remain focused on the highest standards possible for the education of young architects. As a school we are famous not only for our students, teachers and graduates – the essential part of our legacy – but also for the many ways our courses and activities have contributed to improving the conditions of modern architectural learning, practice and knowledge.” — Architectural Association School of Architecture
From these two mission statements, we can see that as special focus institutions focusing on art and design, they both emphasize bringing art and design from students to a large public audience, associating art and design study with system thinking and knowledge, and achieving the general goals through different levels of teaching and infrastructure, “courses and activities” “college and museum”. These really stand out for me, because I didn’t expect that they all provided such a system learning logic for the art learning even if they could use different learning methods, while art and design learning could be a maverick thing differ from person to person, school to school.
We can also tell the differences between these two mission statements. For Rhode Island School of Design, they expect to educate artists and designers aiming for making contributions to a global society, as for Architectural Association School of Architecture, they focus more on the personal development of young architects, and improvement of the conditions of modern architectural industry and academic knowledge. Even though they are both unique schools for artists and designers, they have different levels of encouragements for personal development, profession improvement and society contributions. For example, after reading their mission statements, it seems that a prospective student aiming at personal development will prefer to choose Architectural Association School of Architecture, and one aiming at society contributions may like Rhode Island School of Design more.
After I compared these two mission statements, my doubt about mission statement has gone, even one paragraph of mission and vision description did provide people different pictures of that institution, and help people to learn their emphasis. That matters the most.
Another interesting part I found in the mission statement analysis is that Rhode Island School of Design also provided an original mission statement from March 22, 1877.
“On March 22, 1877, the Rhode Island General Assembly ratified “An Act to Incorporate the Rhode Island School of Design.” The corporation, comprised of a forward-thinking group of men and women, artists and business leaders, educators and politicians, was formed “for the purpose of aiding in the cultivation of the arts of design.” The original bylaws set forth the following key objectives for RISD:
First. The instruction of artisans in drawing, painting, modeling, and designing, that they may successfully apply the principles of Art to the requirements of trade and manufacture.
Second. The systematic training of students in the practice of Art, in order that they may understand its principles, give instruction to others, or become artists.
Third. The general advancement of public Art Education, by the exhibition of works of Art and of Art school studies, and by lectures on Art.”
We can see that in the original mission statement, they started from a more practical point and provided different visions for different groups of people that could be involved in the institution. That also stand out to me since it showed more how the institutions try to solve people’s doubt about the institutions in a brief description.