Recommendation 7. Swarthmore should create the Swarthmore Institute for Liberal Arts in the 21st Century to study and expand liberal arts education at Swarthmore, in the United States, and around the world.

Swarthmore should enhance support for intellectual rigor and creativity and signal our identification with those values and our potential to lead in strengthening the liberal arts in today’s global community. The Swarthmore Institute for Liberal Arts in the 21st Century would provide a flexible structure and resources to promote projects that might involve faculty, students, and/or guests in formats that include reading groups, semester long workshops, and seminars focused on a visiting scholar.

The Institute should have the frameworks and financial resources to encourage faculty participation, time and space for reflection, delight in discovery, and further deepening of one’s knowledge. It should also become a destination for scholars outside Swarthmore who are interested in the future of the liberal arts by stimulating generative conversation about liberal arts education and providing a physical space to convene such activity.

The Swarthmore Institute for Liberal Arts in the 21st Century will manifest the intellectual values we hold in highest regard: rigor, collaborative and cooperative exchange, and imaginative and innovative solutions to some of the most pressing problems confronting us in these times. 

Timothy Burke,
Professor of History

Currently no collection of scholars and practitioners is devoted to understanding the intrinsic value of the residential college, encouraging innovation in this setting, or expanding liberal arts approaches around the world. Swarthmore has both an opportunity and an obligation to support this unique form of undergraduate education by ensuring that the faculty continues to innovate in the liberal arts and by hosting others to conduct critical research on the future of the liberal arts. A faculty-led task force should study this proposal more in-depth.

This recommendation has three parts:

Foster exploration and curricular innovation by providing a flexible structure and support for faculty to develop new courses and pedagogical practices and host seminars on topics relating to teaching and research in the liberal arts; support new modes of scholarly production and dissemination; and sponsor publications relating to current explorations, student-faculty collaborations, and symposia. The Institute should include staff members who play a lead role in updating faculty on technological innovation in the classroom.

We should also provide a place, such as that envisioned as part of the proposed inn project, for contemplative, nondisciplinary-specific discussion among faculty to foster more social exploration of great ideas and exciting innovations.

Convene and support scholarly activity on the future of the liberal arts at national and international levels. Promote the visibility and viability of Swarthmore College in particular and of the residential liberal arts college in general. This includes supporting research on the effectiveness of the liberal arts and its future potential, including but not limited to support for liberal arts around the world. Such support may include hosting visiting fellows, convening conferences, serving as a think tank for relevant research, and encouraging a network of those who study innovative topics.

We should also track regional, national, and global political trends affecting liberal arts colleges and create an information resource about those trends for interested faculty and our other constituencies.

Bridge conversations between liberal arts education and those who live “liberal arts lives,” especially between Swarthmore faculty, students, staff, and alumni on topics related to the future of liberal arts. We should create a structure to guide and govern the institute, including a board, a Swarthmore faculty director, adequate administrative support staff, project fellows for faculty, and “lives in the liberal arts fellows” for alumni. Many topics crucial to the future of residential liberal arts colleges, such as the underlying financial model, the role of liberal arts and innovation, and integrating arts and engineering are topics our alumni know well. A “lives in the liberal arts fellows” program could bring alumni to campus to engage in conversations, conduct research, and/or teach a course on the liberal arts as they are lived in professional, civic, and private life.

 

Swarthmore should enhance support for intellectual rigor and creativity and signal our identification with those values and our potential to lead in strengthening the liberal arts in today’s global community. The Swarthmore Institute for Liberal Arts in the 21st Century would provide a flexible structure and resources to promote projects that might involve faculty, students, and/or guests in formats that include reading groups, semesterlong workshops, and seminars focused on a visiting scholar.

The Institute should have the frameworks and financial resources to encourage faculty participation, time and space for reflection, delight in discovery, and further deepening of one’s knowledge. It should also become a destination for scholars outside Swarthmore who are interested in the future of the liberal arts by stimulating generative conversation about liberal arts education and providing a physical space to convene such activity.

Currently no collection of scholars and practitioners is devoted to understanding the intrinsic value of the residential college, encouraging innovation in this setting, or expanding liberal arts approaches around the world. Swarthmore has both an opportunity and an obligation to support this unique form of undergraduate education by ensuring that the faculty continues to innovate in the liberal arts and by hosting others to conduct critical research on the future of the liberal arts. A faculty-led task force should study this proposal more in-depth.

This recommendation has three parts:

Foster exploration and curricular innovation by providing a flexible structure and support for faculty to develop new courses and pedagogical practices and host seminars on topics relating to teaching and research in the liberal arts; support new modes of scholarly production and dissemination; and sponsor publications relating to current explorations, student-faculty collaborations, and symposia. The Institute should include staff members who play a lead role in updating faculty on technological innovation in the classroom.

We should also provide a place, such as that envisioned as part of the proposed inn project, for contemplative, nondisciplinary-specific discussion among faculty to foster more social exploration of great ideas and exciting innovations.

Swarthmore should enhance support for intellectual rigor and creativity and signal our identification with those values and our potential to lead in strengthening the liberal arts in today’s global community. The Swarthmore Institute for Liberal Arts in the 21st Century would provide a flexible structure and resources to promote projects that might involve faculty, students, and/or guests in formats that include reading groups, semesterlong workshops, and seminars focused on a visiting scholar.

The Institute should have the frameworks and financial resources to encourage faculty participation, time and space for reflection, delight in discovery, and further deepening of one’s knowledge. It should also become a destination for scholars outside Swarthmore who are interested in the future of the liberal arts by stimulating generative conversation about liberal arts education and providing a physical space to convene such activity.

Currently no collection of scholars and practitioners is devoted to understanding the intrinsic value of the residential college, encouraging innovation in this setting, or expanding liberal arts approaches around the world. Swarthmore has both an opportunity and an obligation to support this unique form of undergraduate education by ensuring that the faculty continues to innovate in the liberal arts and by hosting others to conduct critical research on the future of the liberal arts. A faculty-led task force should study this proposal more in-depth.

This recommendation has three parts:

Foster exploration and curricular innovation by providing a flexible structure and support for faculty to develop new courses and pedagogical practices and host seminars on topics relating to teaching and research in the liberal arts; support new modes of scholarly production and dissemination; and sponsor publications relating to current explorations, student-faculty collaborations, and symposia. The Institute should include staff members who play a lead role in updating faculty on technological innovation in the classroom.

We should also provide a place, such as that envisioned as part of the proposed inn project, for contemplative, nondisciplinary-specific discussion among faculty to foster more social exploration of great ideas and exciting innovations.

Convene and support scholarly activity on the future of the liberal arts at national and international levels. Promote the visibility and viability of Swarthmore College in particular and of the residential liberal arts college in general. This includes supporting research on the effectiveness of the liberal arts and its future potential, including but not limited to support for liberal arts around the world. Such support may include hosting visiting fellows, convening conferences, serving as a think tank for relevant research, and encouraging a network of those study innovative topics.

We should also track regional, national, and global political trends affecting liberal arts colleges and create an information resource about those trends for interested faculty and our other constituencies.

Bridge conversations between liberal arts education and those who live “liberal arts lives,” especially between Swarthmore faculty, students, staff, and alumni on topics related to the future of liberal arts. We should create a structure to guide and govern the institute, including a board, a Swarthmore faculty director, adequate administrative support staff, project fellows for faculty, and “lives in the liberal arts fellows” for alumni. Many topics crucial to the future of residential liberal arts colleges, such as the underlying financial model, the role of liberal arts and innovation, and integrating arts and engineering are topics our alumni know well. A “lives in the liberal arts fellows” program could bring alumni to campus to engage in conversations, conduct research, and/or teach a course on the liberal arts as they are lived in professional, civic, and private life.

Convene and support scholarly activity on the future of the liberal arts at national and international levels. Promote the visibility and viability of Swarthmore College in particular and of the residential liberal arts college in general. This includes supporting research on the effectiveness of the liberal arts and its future potential, including but not limited to support for liberal arts around the world. Such support may include hosting visiting fellows, convening conferences, serving as a think tank for relevant research, and encouraging a network of those study innovative topics.

We should also track regional, national, and global political trends affecting liberal arts colleges and create an information resource about those trends for interested faculty and our other constituencies.

Bridge conversations between liberal arts education and those who live “liberal arts lives,” especially between Swarthmore faculty, students, staff, and alumni on topics related to the future of liberal arts. We should create a structure to guide and govern the institute, including a board, a Swarthmore faculty director, adequate administrative support staff, project fellows for faculty, and “lives in the liberal arts fellows” for alumni. Many topics crucial to the future of residential liberal arts colleges, such as the underlying financial model, the role of liberal arts and innovation, and integrating arts and engineering are topics our alumni know well. A “lives in the liberal arts fellows” program could bring alumni to campus to engage in conversations, conduct research, and/or teach a course on the liberal arts as they are lived in professional, civic, and private life.