Rigorous Inquiry and Imaginative Thinking

For Swarthmore to advance academic rigor and innovations in the 21st century requires that we attend to changes in the ways that today’s students learn without compromising the academic standards on which its reputation is founded—including the Honors Program. Knowledge, teaching, and learning are expanding and being reinvented. We will continue to teach within traditional disciplines, but we must also support new forms of interdisciplinary, community-based, and problem-based learning. Although technology will play a greater role in the educational process, a liberal arts education will continue to rely on face-to-face discussions between individuals or among small groups, requiring
close student-faculty interaction and maintaining a low student-faculty ratio.

Strategic Directions recommends that Swarthmore continue to foster a curriculum that requires intellectual rigor within traditional disciplines. At the same time, it should provide structures and incentives to encourage innovations in both curriculum and pedagogy. Consequently, the College should:

• Create a teaching, learning, and research initiative to cultivate traditional and new competencies for students.
• Address facilities needs for academic programs, with an initial focus on the
Departments of Engineering, Biology, and Psychology, which will enable the
College to refurbish existing spaces to address significant needs in other departments.
• Provide high-impact summer learning experiences for students, including academic research and professional internships.
• Strengthen the infrastructure and mechanisms for helping students navigate the curriculum, discover opportunities, and manage their choices.

Plan Summary [pdf]