When applying to schools as a high school Senior, I do not remember reading any mission statements. The mission of the school was not as “of interest” to me as the schools courses, opportunities, and environment. As an instructor and graduate student hopefully applying to jobs in higher education in the near future, mission statements have taken a very important role in my understanding of different institutions. With both public and private institutions competing for students and funding in every way, the mission of the school is central to setting the school apart and giving it a clear direction. As a faculty member it is one’s responsibility to teach and learn in accordance with those missions. I am finding that as an educator I am passionate not only about the region but about what some have coined, “transformative pedagogy.” As I looked up missions to schools that have had a huge impact on my personal life or my research I considered how I would be able to uphold their various missions.
First, I looked at the mission of my (very unconventional) undergraduate institution. I am sure most people have a strong connection to their undergraduate schools… but I can honestly say that I believe in the pedagogical approaches of Goddard and that their culture of “rigorous inquiry, collaboration, and lifelong learning” was not simple a mission. It was something that students were expected to continue after graduation.
The Mission of Goddard College
To advance cultures of rigorous inquiry, collaboration, and lifelong learning, where individuals take imaginative and responsible action in the world.
Educational Philosophy, Values, and History
Students at Goddard work with faculty to direct their studies according to their personal and professional interests, goals, gifts, and desires. Students develop the capacity to understand their lives in an ever-changing social context, and thereby to take meaningful action in the world. They are encouraged to question received knowledge and the status quo and to create new understandings of the world and of human experience. As a collaborative interdependent learning community, we respect, include and appreciate differing perspectives. We challenge ourselves and each other to embrace uncertainty, experiment, and imagine unexpected outcomes. Recognizing our interconnectedness with others and with the earth, we hold our scholarship and our actions to the highest standards of integrity, authenticity, and compassion.
We recognize that teaching and learning are fully realized when they include a wide range of people, cultures, experiences, abilities and fields of knowledge. Understanding that access to resources and social and political power are not equally distributed, we offer the means to explore and articulate a wide range of personal and cultural understandings of well-being and justice, and to take action to create a more just world. In addition to keeping our education affordable, we create academic and campus environments that all Goddard community members can use. We also recognize the increasing impact of human activity on our planet’s limited resources. In our educational and institutional practices, we are committed to thoughtful and sustainable action that increases individual and social capacity for environmental stewardship and an improved future.
Goddard College has embodied this educational philosophy and these values for nearly 150 years. Initially chartered as a Universalist seminary in 1863, Green Mountain Central Institute, later renamed Goddard Seminary, exemplified the inclusive, socially engaged values of its community. Goddard College’s founder, Royce “Tim” Pitkin, was a graduate of Goddard Seminary and a student of John Dewey. Alarmed by the rise of fascism in Europe, Pitkin founded Goddard College in 1938 to unite the liberal values of the Seminary with Dewey’s belief that interactive, self-directed education could help build civil, democratic societies. An experimenting college, Goddard has continually offered new educational models in response to societal needs. It was one of the first colleges to include adult learning in its charter, the first to develop a low-residency model for higher education, and the first to offer residential programs for single parents receiving public assistance. The College continues to grow and change along with its students, who come to Goddard to transform themselves, their communities, and their world.
Secondly, I looked at the mission of the regional institution, Berea College. Berea’s mission is as follows:
Berea College, founded by ardent abolitionists and radical reformers, continues today as an educational institution still firmly rooted in its historic purpose “to promote the cause of Christ.” Adherence to the College’s scriptural foundation, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” shapes the College’s culture and programs so that students and staff alike can work toward both personal goals and a vision of a world shaped by Christian values, such as the power of love over hate, human dignity and equality, and peace with justice. This environment frees persons to be active learners, workers, and servers as members of the academic community and as citizens of the world. The Berea experience nurtures intellectual, physical, aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual potentials and with those the power to make meaningful commitments and translate them into action.
To achieve this purpose, Berea College commits itself
• To provide an educational opportunity primarily for students from Appalachia, black and white, who have great promise and limited economic resources.
• To provide an education of high quality with a liberal arts foundation and outlook.
• To stimulate understanding of the Christian faith and its many expressions and to emphasize the Christian ethic and the motive of service to others.
• To provide for all students through the labor program experiences for learning and serving in community, and to demonstrate that labor, mental and manual, has dignity as well as utility.
• To assert the kinship of all people and to provide interracial education with a particular emphasis on understanding and equality among blacks and whites.
• To create a democratic community dedicated to education and equality for women and men.
• To maintain a residential campus and to encourage in all members of the community a way of life characterized by plain living, pride in labor well done, zest for learning, high personal standards, and concern for the welfare of others.
• To serve the Appalachian region primarily through education but also by other appropriate services.
Originally adopted by the Board of Trustees in 1969; this revised statement adopted by the Board of Trustees of Berea College, Berea, Kentucky
April 24, 1993
The objectives found in Berea’s bullet point list is crucial and I was glad they were included. Mission’s must be obtainable with objectives that students and faculty can clearly obtain. As I continue to pursue a future career in higher education crafting my own mission and working to maintain a balance between institutional expectations and my own convictions.