Nikhil Goyal (BA ’16) is the author of Schools on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice (Doubleday/Random House, 2016).
Goddard’s Individualized Bachelor of Arts is for creative, motivated students who wish to design a personalized program of learning based in the liberal arts.
In keeping with our learner-centered approach, students work collaboratively with faculty to identify the areas of study they will explore. And, since personal awareness and knowledge of the world go hand in hand, we help students at all levels undertake a holistic, multidisciplinary approach in their studies.
The Individualized Bachelor of Arts emphasizes personal and social transformation. We encourage students to pursue areas of interest that enrich life and contribute to the global community and the Earth.
Areas of Study
The Individualized Bachelor of Arts provides students with the greatest flexibility in designing their own area of study. In recent semesters, students have pursued self-designed studies in:
Acoustics, Acting, Aesthetics, Anarchism and Insurrection, Animal Behavior/Primate Studies, Anthropology, Anthroposophy, Archival Studies, Area Studies, Art and Art History, Audio Storytelling, Auto-ethnography, Bio-art/Bio-poetics, Birth & Women’s Health, Botany, Business Organization and Management, Cinema Studies, Communication, Consciousness Studies, Creative Culture, Critical Prison Studies, Critical Theory, Cultural Studies, Design, Entrepreneurship, Expressive Arts, Film Studies, Food Culture, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Geology, Graphic Design, History, Holistic Sustainable Development, Human Rights & Justice, Immigration Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, Language and Literature, Marketing, Masculinity Studies, Mathematics, Media Studies, Meditation and Mindfulness, Music Composition, Neuroscience and Memory, Nonprofit Leadership, Nonviolence and Peace Studies, Nutritional Science, Organizational Leadership, Performance, Philosophy, Psychology, Scientific Literacy, Social Activism, Sociology, Subcultural Studies, Trauma and Healing, Vermont History, Yoga Theory and Practice
At the start of the semester, students attend an intensive eight-day residency in Vermont, followed by 16 weeks of independent work and self-reflection in close collaboration with a faculty advisor. Goddard pioneered this format nearly a half century ago to meet the needs of adult students with professional, family, and other obligations seeking learning experiences grounded in the real-world.
Residencies are a time to explore, network, learn, witness, and share with peers, staff, and faculty. Students work with advisors and peers in close-knit advising groups to forge individualized study plans that describe their learning objectives for the semester.
Working closely with their faculty advisors, and supported by fellow learners, students identify areas of study, personal goals, relevant resources, and avenues to achieve these goals. Students also attend and are invited to help organize workshops, keynote addresses, celebrations and other events intended to stimulate, inspire, and challenge.
This low-residency model combines the breadth of a collaborative community with the focus of personalized learning, enhanced by insightful exchanges with a faculty mentor.
The Work of the Semester
During the semester, students send faculty advisors “packets” of work that vary in content but typically contain diverse forms of learning, including study journals, annotations, research papers, creative writing, samples of artwork, autobiographical and process reflections, and audio/video production.
A detailed response from the advisor is both supportive and challenging, engaging in the learning the student presents and suggesting resources and strategies for the next packet. The advisor also addresses the packet in the context of the student’s semester goals and their progress toward fulfilling degree requirements. Over the semester, the exchanges between student and advisor create a dialogue that is exceptionally in-depth and meaningful. Students often describe these exchanges as transformative and empowering. At the end of the semester, students and advisors write comprehensive evaluations of the student’s learning.