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, Ruth teaches Shakespeare, American literature, English composition, educational inquiry, community organizing, and creative writing face-to-face and online at local colleges and community organizations. She is owner of Farmer Writing and Editing, which offers coaching and editing services, and she is a member of the South Street Writers Cooperative. A lifelong learner, Ruth has taken courses in organizational analysis, disruptive technologies, leadership, and sustainable development. She creates collages, and practices tai chi, yoga, and ecstatic dance. These experiences enhance her work as Director of the Goddard Graduate Institute, whose core values are embedded in inter- and trans-disciplinary inquiry. Ruth Farmer’s poetry and prose appear in literary journals and anthologies, 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
Growing up during the 60s, I was constantly faced with social and political unrest and shifting expectations. My 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 volunteering in community organizations. I have always believed in the power of education, formal and informal. I am mindful of the need for intellectually safe environments; that is, spaces where it is okay to say “I don’t know,” and to make mistakes.
Someone once said that the curriculum is what happens in the classroom. I agree. In an educational setting, learning plans and goals are needed. Even so, students and teachers who embrace the disequilibrium that results when a lesson goes in an unanticipated direction often learn more than they expected about the world, themselves, and the subject at hand. As an educator, I am open to others’ ideas and perspectives and the new modes of thinking that may result. As a writer, I value creation and revision. This mindset has helped me to develop resilience. After all, change occurs so quickly in the 21st century. A strong community (or family or organization or individual) is one that can thrive through inevitable changes.
I practice yoga, tai chi, and ecstatic dance. I garden and make collages. I was a member of the Bryce Dance Company, where I discovered how to embody stories (a revelation for someone as grounded in words as I am). Through these experiences, I acquired essential foundational skills and philosophies. Understanding the basics helped me to make appropriate adjustments when they were needed. Moving toward fully expressing a pose, a movement, a plant, I realized that a process can be reward enough and an imperfect expression has its own elegant beauty.
Several years ago, I earned a second master’s: an MFA in writing and literature. My studies at Bennington College showed me the value of student-empowered, low-residency teaching and learning: With the support of faculty mentors, I prioritized what and how I wanted to learn. Most importantly, I challenged myself personally and professionally.
My Bennington experiences gave me insights that proved invaluable when I became a faculty member in the BA in Individualized Studies program. Later, working with Lucinda Garthwaite and Prageeta Sharma, I helped to create Goddard’s BFA in Creative Writing program and became a founding faculty member. After several years, I became Program Director of the MA in Individualized Studies program, and then Director of the Goddard Graduate Institute (GGI). From the multiple perspectives of student, faculty, and administrator, I have witnessed the value of low-residency, student-designed, and student-centered learning.
In addition to my Goddard work, I teach in local colleges, face-to-face and online. I facilitate writing workshops, and I have trained teachers through the National Writing Project. A lifelong learner, in recent years I’ve taken courses in leadership and organizational development, including Organizational Analysis, Disruptive Technologies, Leadership Through Emotional Intelligence, and Sustainable Development. I am sole owner of Farmer Writing and Editing, which provides coaching and editing services. These experiences enhance my work as Director of GGI, whose core values are embedded in inter- and trans-disciplinary inquiry, social and ecological contexts, and transformative work.
I have co-edited two anthologies: Transformative Language Arts in Action (Rowman & Littlefield) and Spirit, Space, and Survival: African-American Women in (white) Academe (Routledge). I contributed a chapter to GGI’s anthology Teaching Transformation: Progressive Education in Action (Lulu Press). My poetry and prose have been published in several literary journals. I am a member of the South Street Writers Cooperative in Bristol, Vermont. My essays and poems are meditations on the extraordinariness of the everyday. Presently, I am working on a collection of personal narratives, and a novel.