March Update from the Mission, Values, and Goals Working Group

Chair: Koof Kalkstein, Board of Managers

Co-Conveners: Liz Braun, Dean of Students
Maurice Eldridge, Vice President for College and Community Relations

The three subgroups of Working Group 1 are, respectively, focusing on Leadership and Life Skills, Community, and Balance and Resilience, with an on-going effort to understand and reinforce our Quaker values more explicitly.

One interesting idea from the Leadership and Life Skills group is to create one or two formal opportunities a year for a community event or symposium in which students present their research, the fruits of their study abroad experience, their internships, or community engagement.  A component of these annual events might be a series of workshops or other training modes to prepare students to enter their summer experiences most effectively.

A persistent idea emerging from the work of the Community sub group is that of reimagining Collection in order to construct a series of collective events, e.g., a lecture series on an annually selected topic or theme engaging prominent speakers, scholars, activists to provide the common experience.  These series might also have curricular links.

The Community group is also paying attention to the relationships between residential life and the character of the campus community and is poised to explore the relationship between issues of diversity and inclusion and the nature of community.

The Balance and Resilience sub-group is focusing attention on the possibility of increasing the number and variety of spaces on campus that encourage and facilitate student balance and wellness which might also include an expanded and improved Fitness Center, enhanced and renovated student residence hall lounges, and the addition of a meditation room in the library or somewhere on the edge of the Crum Woods.

There are a number of overlapping themes, issues and questions that touch each of the sub groups and the business of other working groups.  They include the following:

Diversity and Inclusion lead us to consider how we support individual students, while also building community on multiple levels and considering in this context how we facilitate leadership and life skills. We must also think about creating the space and programming for developing listening, achieving perspective and other skills related to working and thriving in diverse environments as well as exploring issues of identity development with students during their time at Swarthmore.

We are also looking at the role of athletics within the college community. How do we best recognize, leverage and capitalize on the work done in this arena? We need to acknowledge the positive value assigned retrospectively to physical education by our graduates; the current negative effects of an over-crowded fitness center; and the visible connection between specialized athletic teams and notions of fitness and wellness.

We are working on a definition of leadership broadly conceived and one that is resonate and distinctive with our core values and Quaker tradition.  We are mindful that we must be sure that any space we create to work in this area is understood as a space for everyone because these skills are important in the development of all, regardless of where one goes or what one does.

Finally, across our sub groups and the full group we are aware that there are cross cutting facilities issues that have emerged. There are also linkages to other working groups, like the academic working group, among the themes and questions on our plate.