Director, Goddard Graduate Institute
Residency Site: Plainfield VT
Ruth Farmer began her Goddard career as a member of the faculty in the Individualized Bachelor of Arts program (now a degree option within the Undergraduate Studies Program), and she helped to create Goddard’s BFA in Creative Writing Program. In addition to directing the Graduate Institute, Farmer teaches Shakespeare, American literature, English composition, educational inquiry, community organizing, and creative writing face-to-face and online at local colleges and community organizations. As a lifelong learner, she’s taken courses in organizational analysis, disruptive technologies, leadership, and sustainable development. She is a member of the Bryce Dance Company. These experiences enhance her work as director of the Graduate Institute, whose core values are embedded in inter- and trans-disciplinary inquiry. Her poetry and prose appear in literary journals, and she recently co-edited Transformative Language Arts in Action (Rowman & Littlefield) with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg.
MFA in Writing and Literature, Bennington College
MS in Health Science Administration, Long Island University
BS in Health Science, Brooklyn College
In the 21st century, change and the speed of change are constants. The complexities of sociological, ecological, and political shifts require resilience. Growing up in North Carolina during the 50s and 60s, I was constantly aware of social and political flux. I remember standing backstage, clutching my alto sax, nervous to begin playing with the school’s jazz band, when suddenly a group of Civil Rights workers entered the auditorium and three-quarters of the students joined them in the march to the State House to demand equal rights for Blacks. I remember eagerly anticipating graduating from my all-Black high school, like my sisters before me, and I remember tears of despair and anger when we were told that would not happen. Forced to comply with desegregation laws, the public schools were re-organized, and yellow school buses (carrying mostly Black students) crisscrossed our town. My political activism began in high school and has taken many forms. I’ve marched, boycotted, written letters, organized conferences, donated money, and amassed thousands of hours as a volunteer for several community organizations.
Change requires resilience. As an educator, I am mindful of the need for intellectually safe environments in which students may develop as resilient, well-informed global citizens. As a writer, I value the processes of creation and revision. That is reflected in all aspects of my life: I create curricula for the courses I teach and am mindful that the curriculum is what happens during the course.
I practice yoga; I dance; I garden. These activities urge me toward learning foundations and adjusting what I have learned as needed, to fully express the pose, the movement, the plant.
Several years ago, I changed directions professionally and personally. I moved from Brooklyn, New York, to Charlotte, Vermont; I earned a second Master’s degree. Earning an MFA in writing and literature from Bennington College showed me the value of a student-empowered, low-residency teaching and learning model: I came to understand and prioritize what I want to learn, how I want to learn, and how to challenge myself personally and professionally. I also learned how to build and engage with a learning community that encourages and supports individual and collective creativity and innovation.
I started at Goddard as a faculty member in the BA in Individualized Studies program. Working with Lucinda Garthwaite and Prageeta Sharma, I developed Goddard’s BFA in Creative Writing program. In addition to working at Goddard College, I teach in local colleges, face-to-face and online. I have trained teachers and led writing workshops. I have studied, and worked with students who studied, curriculum development; organizational development; literature; creative writing (particularly personal narratives and poetry); myths, legends, and fairy tales; community activism; women’s studies; race and racism; and popular culture, American studies; education theory; and gay and lesbian studies. I have worked as an administrator and as a consultant in colleges, profit- and not-for-profit organizations.
I am a lifelong learner. In recent years, I’ve taken courses in organizational analysis, disruptive technologies, leadership through emotional intelligence, and sustainable development, among others that focus on leadership and organizational development. I am a member of the Bryce Dance Company. These experiences enhance my work as Director of the Goddard Graduate Institute, whose core values are embedded in inter- and trans-disciplinary inquiry.
My poetry and prose have been published in several literary journals. I co-edited with Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg Transformative Language Arts in Action (Rowman & Littlefield, forthcoming). My education also includes the National Writing Project in Vermont; working as a Writer-in-Residence at the Berkshire Writers Retreat; being a member of writing collectives; coursework and independent study.