For its 150 year history, Goddard College established early on that it was going to be a bold experiment in education. Using its smallness to its advantage, Goddard continues to innovate and thrive as the landscape of higher education itself struggles to shift and pivot with the changing times. At Goddard College, change is a part of its identity.
Here are ten reasons Goddard College is one of the most interesting and uniquely different institutions of higher learning in the world.
1. Learning By Doing
The principles, methods, and education itself has evolved with the needs of students throughout history, adapting to its student’s desire to “learn by doing”. Based on the principles of John Dewey, students still today are enacting their passions and enhancing their practical skills in real time in their own communities and organizations. Students won’t find themselves trapped in lecture halls when the world is their classroom. Instead, students are matched with faculty advisors who challenge them to create their own learning journey based on their life-long passions and specific interests.
When you graduate from Goddard, you don’t just get a degree, but the completion of a project that you designed– a final draft of a book, non-profit organization, focus or mission, or newly-minted art project or collaboration. This is the real reward of the Goddard model of lifelong learning.
2. Small is Beautiful
With graduating classes of 5-15 students each residency, and faculty advisors-to-students ratios among the lowest in the nation. Goddard students find that individual attention can be given on a student’s specific ambition and study. This smallness encourages our students to strike out on their own, forge their unique student identity, be bold, and to not just blend into the crowd.
3. An Evolving Low-Residency Model
While some small colleges are going full virtual, Goddard brings BA, MA, and MFA students together for a 9 day residency intensive. The low-residency model was invented at Goddard by alum Evalyn Bates in 1963 to assist working mothers in achieving degrees.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, faculty are assembling new ways to experience the residency online, using all the tools at their disposal. The residency is a chance for students to meet their peers, collaborate, build study plans, hear from guest artists and speakers, and perform cabaret. (Edit: currently, there are students participating in the residency in person as well as virtually)
4. Campus as Large as the Planet
While students may call Plainfield Vermont, Port Townsend Washington, or Seattle their Goddard home, the real work of students happens in communities where they immerse into in their practice. Returning from residency, the student embarks on a process of engagement with their practice that is hands-on, and always relevant to their studies.
Some alums have taken a piece of Goddard’s mission with them, and have founded Goddard-inspired schools in Kenya, Guatemala, and West Africa.
5. Collaborative Community of Intergenerational Learners
Where else will you find 60 year old college students mingling with 20 year olds? A peek at the graduates will show you that the intermingling of the generations is a value-added aspect that you won’t find in a typical university. What’s more, students are encouraged to collaborate whenever possible, finding their own trajectory in groups of like-minded peers. At Goddard, competition is antithetical to change-making and radical empathy.
6. Self-Assessment and Narrative Transcripts
When you’ve set your own course for study and define your own path, who better to critique your work than you? Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Did you answer the questions you put forward at the start of the semester?
You won’t find letter or number grades on Goddard College transcripts. Instead, a narrative, written by the student’s advisors explains and describes the content of the student’s explorations in their field of interest.
7. When Everything is Curriculum, nothing is “Extra Curricular”
No sports teams. No clubs. No fraternities or sororities.
If a student wants to engage in something outside of the realm of their schoolwork, it is encouraged that you bring it closer to your course work. A student’s interests are a part of them, and an opportunity for creative reflection on the work that they are immersed in.
Your identity is important and relevant at Goddard. Students should “bring their whole self”- experiences, background and history. You never know what new links you may discover between your identity and your work in the world.
8. Faculty Advisors are Bold Leaders
Our faculty are active in their fields, not just in publication. With award-winning writers, dedicated human rights advocates, working teachers and artists, Goddard’s faculty proves its mettle by continuing to develop their own professions, expanding the scope of their experiences and sharing their discoveries with students as they press on. Reading our faculty bios is a sure way to find out how our advisors are active life-long learners.
9. Inspired Alumni
Jane Sanders, the members of Phish, jazz legend Archie Shepp, Olympian Tommie Smith, Disney lyricist Howard Ashman, librarian Dr. Mayme Clayton, Cuban band leader Bobi Céspedes and author Matthew Quick are just a few alums we’ve recently featured in our blogs. Everyday our alums achieve great things. Sometimes these great things don’t get a lot of fanfare, as our alums are artist-activists, innovative teachers, counselors, and leaders of non-profit organizations. Our community of Goddard alumni are incredible ambassadors for our mission of taking creative and responsible action in the world.
10. Life’s a Cabaret
How could we forget to have fun? With the residency coming to a close, students have a chance to cut loose and take the stage. This is not just the students in the arts programs, but psychology and education programs as well. You’ll get your fair share of “Goddardly” skits: mocking the academics life and the grind of working students, topical skits, rough draft performance art, poetry readings, spoken word, dance and music collaborations. On Thursday night of residency: anything goes!
The Goddard community of students and alums all share that taste of life-long learning that never goes away.
As one recent student said,
“You’re going to leave Goddard with a record of your journey, which is an elegant idea. It’s such a gift.”