The Goddard community holds a strong sense of the purposes and values, which are the essence of the College and a Goddard education. The College’s ability to realize those high ideals has been frustrated by decreasing enrollment and the challenge of operating with inadequate resources. Despite the efforts of all Goddard employees, we have not been able to shift that dynamic.
The current social moment and its alignment with the College’s history, mission and values offer an opportunity to change that, an opportunity to intervene right now with specific intentional and strategic outcomes in mind. I am calling for such an intervention. It is not without risk, but worthwhile endeavors rarely are. We need a renewed vision, based on the shared sense of students, staff and faculty and embraced by the board of trustees, and we need a focused strategy to achieve that vision. This document outlines that vision, and the strategy and resources needed to achieve it.
With Goddard’s 1938 reinvention as a four-year college dedicated to preparing students to address the major problems of the day, the College brought together students from varied economic situations, cultural backgrounds, geographic locations, and academic aspirations to engage in inquiry-based education grounded in real-world problems, and to identify and implement solutions to those problems. While the College has changed, the purpose of a Goddard education, and its focus on preparing students for the work of understanding and enriching the communities in which they live, remains firmly fixed.
Goddard’s mission, revised in 2011, is to advance cultures of rigorous inquiry, collaboration, and life-long learning, where individuals take imaginative and responsible action in the world. Our mission is brought to life by our values, which include:
- Embracing uncertainty, experimenting, and imagining unexpected outcomes.
- Recognizing our interconnectedness with others and with the earth.
- Holding our scholarship and our actions to the highest standards of integrity, authenticity, and compassion.
- Recognizing 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 and that any effort at achieving social justice is constrained by that reality.
- Making our education affordable in comparison to other small private institutions of higher education.
- Offering 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.
- Creating academic and campus environments in which all Goddard community members can prosper.
- Conducting our educational and institutional practices in thoughtful and sustainable ways that increase individual and societal capacities for environmental stewardship and an improved future.
The Current Moment
We live in a world troubled with violence, social and economic inequity and injustice, environmental degradation, cultural conflicts, and widespread oppression. There is a new and renewed sense of urgency about those issues, one that calls for immediate action that is reasoned and values driven.
In this moment there are people and groups of people, newly visible, long awake and newly awakened, who are searching for ways to take action. They are searching for what to do, how to do it, and why it is necessary to do it. They offer themselves as learners and actors and bring their personal and collective resources to the purpose.
This is the type of social moment that Goddard was founded to confront. This moment calls for the College to assume its place in movements reflecting our founding values and calling for imaginative and responsible action in the world. This social moment calls for Goddard to live into a clarified vision.
A Vision for Goddard in the New Era
Goddard is a socially and ecologically just educational institution defined by compassion, collaboration, and innovation. It is relevant and vital to the challenges of the day and an important voice in movements for social and environmental justice. The College’s organizational culture, teaching and learning are aligned with Goddard educational philosophy and institutional values, leading to enlightened living and inspired, meaningful, and effective action in the world.
To live into this vision, we must:
- Assure that Goddard is widely and justifiably recognized as a leading provider of progressive educational opportunities, and is an ongoing and committed participant in movements that reflect the College’s values.
- Enhance existing academic programs and identify and design new programs that attract and energize learners aligned with the College’s visionary objectives, which emerge from its mission and values.
- Invest in continued and clarified assessment of the quality and relevance of academic programs.
- Identify the needs of a diverse and changing potential student population, and sculpt learning systems, cultures, and delivery modalities that ensure that these needs are addressed.
- Increase the socioeconomic diversity of our faculty and student body through thoughtfully designing and redesigning programs to address socioeconomically diverse studies, revising hiring processes to increase diversity, and increasing scholarship and grant funds to support diverse student recruitment and affordability.
- Invest in and make use of emerging technologies that enhance progressive academic program delivery and create new opportunities for student learning and faculty engagement.
- Invest in faculty professional development, research, and critical and creative output.
- Invest in staffing and staff members, and in organizational changes that create new potential for collaboration and creativity in services, administration and management.