International Democratic Education Conference


Goddard College students, along with a few faculty and alumni, met during the January Goddard EDU residency to plan and discuss the role that the College could play in the upcoming International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC).

IDEC 2013 will be held in Boulder, Colorado this August 4th through 8th, providing an exciting opportunity for Goddard College to participate in teaching, learning and continuing conversations about democratic education. This event offers a venue for students to live the school’s philosophy of taking imaginative and responsible action in the world and to engage in a truly collaborative worldwide learning community.

IDEC is now in its 21st year, and is held in different countries around the globe annually. It is not expected to return to the U.S. for another ten years.

The International Democratic Education Conference hosts educators, practitioners, scholars and advocates dedicated to communities, schools, children and families, and to meaningful learning which empowers people everywhere to create a more just, sustainable and democratic world. The stories we often hear about education are limited to the problems that plague the system. There is another story about growing networks of young people, educators and communities working to create more complex and transformative solutions to the challenges we face. That is the hopeful, inspirational and powerful story of democratic education.

From the IDEC 2013 website:

Democratic education is not a type of school or research-based practice. It isn’t one kind of learning program or philosophy.  It is a frame.  It’s a way of gathering together a vast and powerful set of ideas, philosophies of learning, research, school models, teaching practices, policies, and community visions so that a powerful story can be told that reclaims education for people and communities.  There are thousands of people and organizations around the globe engaged in democratic education.  Many have similar values but different definitions.  IDEC 2013 is for all of them.


The Goddard College IDEC team estimates more than 30 students will be participating in this year’s conference. The hybrid Open Space format offers a sort of “un-conference” approach to participatory learning, rich in conversation and just the right amount of workshop experiences and facilitation to make order out of the chaos.

Rather than be lectured to for an hour or two, conference participants will actually participate – meeting in small groups around organically-generated topics, collaborating in creative ways in various “Imagination Stations” where the learning will be hands-on and generative, and the dialog will be rich and authentic. The ideas and knowledge that grow from these sessions will be captured in Reggio Emilia-inspired ways and shared back to the larger community.

This truly is a learner-centered conference, guided only by the daily themes of History, Vision, Connection, Equity and Action. Goddard students excel at this, and will be valuable contributors to the process, as well as ambassadors for the work the College itself does in advancing democratic education and deeply participatory, self-directed learning.

Furthermore, this conference isn’t just about education. One of the goals is to bridge social justice, sustainability and education. Goddard EDU students feel it is essential that students and faculty from all programs engage with this critical work, and hope that there will be representation from each Goddard program.

Led by Goddard faculty member Karla Haas-Moscowitz, PhD and Goddard EDU student Lacey Ruskin, the team brainstormed ideas for how Goddard College and its students could best serve and partake in the “choose your own adventure” style conference. Ideas ranged from being hosts in an Arts Integration or Art Therapy station, to helping with childcare or serving as Goddard-T-Shirt-clad guides, ambassadors and helpers throughout the event.

College credit will be offered through collaboration with TILA and the conference promises to offer a wealth of inspiration for Goddard packet work. Transportation options, including the rental of a 15-passenger van or two and driving cross-country from Vermont to Colorado were discussed. The excitement in the air was evident, and the energy high.

Goddard College will be well-represented at IDEC 2013. In addition to the involvement of current students and Goddard EDU program faculty, many Goddard graduates are busy putting their education to work. The local host partner for the event is the Patchwork School, where Goddard alumni Haley Sladek (MA EDU ’12) and Liza Sparks (MA EDU ’13) are teachers. Haley is also serving as one of the lead organizers for the conference.

The Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA) is a primary partner as well. IDEA is home for Digital Organizer and Goddard graduate David Loitz (BA ’65), as well as Oregon Senior Fellow organizer and Goddard alumna Darcy Bedortha (MA EDU ’13).

Goddard College is a model of democratic education in practice, and a catalyst for educators and community change-makers who take the principles of democratic education out into the world. Not only is a partnership with IDEC 2013 a natural fit for the vision of Goddard College, it also offers young students an opportunity to put their education to work, and to learn from both their own experience and from conversations and shared experiences with a variety of leaders of democratic education from around the world.

This will be the second time in the 21-year history of IDEC that the U.S. is to host the conference, and it will not return for another ten years. For Goddard College and its students to be a part of it all, offering our model of self-directed learning to a world audience, is a powerful opportunity that should not be missed. Participate!  

   -by Darcy Bedortha (MA EDU ’13)

For more information about Goddard’s partnership contact Dr. Haas Moskowitz – at or Lacey Ruskin at


International Democratic Education Conference: IDEC 2013 –

Institute for Democratic Education in America (IDEA) –                                                                                        

Important Announcement

The Board of Directors for Goddard College have made the difficult decision to close the college at the end of the 2024 Spring term.  


Current Goddard students will have the opportunity to complete their degrees at the same tuition rate through a teach-out with like-minded institution, Prescott College. Updates and scholarship funds will be available in the coming weeks and months. Information will be posted to

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