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What is Individualized Studies?

Slider: BA in Individualized Studies

What is Individualized Studies?

The low-residency BA in Individualized Studies Program gives you the ability to craft an individualized and unique plan of study that spans the range of liberal arts, tailored to meet your personal goals and interests. The personalized nature of learning often results in studies that cross several liberal arts fields, or transcend them. Faculty advisors help you identify the issues and fields of study you will explore, and support you in incorporating and fulfilling the undergraduate degree criteria.

The Goddard undergraduate curriculum is student centered:  It begins with you -- your passions, your questions, and your inquiry. In the process of exploring these passions, you will intentionally work toward developing the competencies required to earn a Goddard undergraduate degree.

There are no simple benchmarks for success here. Goddard educational philosophy relies on your ability to reflect carefully on your learning, and on a genuine dialog between you and the faculty to continually assess your progress toward meeting the requirements for earning a Goddard undergraduate degree.

This curriculum is progressive: It implements the ideas of educational philosophers who argue for an education that prepares people to address the problems of the world, and for a curriculum that fosters change and transformation in its students.

This is an emancipatory education:  It is intended to free you from cultural and other biases in your worldview, and facilitate your ability to participate in positive social change. Our curriculum is not a menu of courses; it is a process of development, a partnership of your passions and the genuine desire of the faculty and the rest of the college staff and leadership to engender in its students, as is articulated in the mission of the college, “an earnest concern for others and the welfare of the earth."

Your full, honest, and "earnest" participation in this curriculum is what is required of you. The faculty will join you in this. With this process behind and in you, you will leave Goddard with the fundamental knowledge, skills and confidence to inhabit whatever place is yours in the ongoing challenge of creating a just and sustainable world.

To earn an undergraduate degree at Goddard, you will demonstrate learning and competencies in the following areas:

  • Wide Knowledge - Goddard’s pedagogical perspective includes the philosophy that we engage with the world most fully when we can apply various modes of inquiry, ways of knowing and organizing knowledge. You will explore each of the following areas with a critical lens, contextualizing your ideas and experience, understanding that they can be taken one at a time or in relationship to one another. How you approach this depends on your course of study.
  • Arts & Creative Expression: the study and practice of any of the arts, which might include visual arts, creative writing, dance, music and performance
  • Humanities: the study of human constructs, experiences, and concerns, which can include philosophy, history, language, literature, history, and religion.
  • Mathematics: reasoning in quantitative terms, which can include the study of numbers, patterns, and applied mathematics such as statistical analysis.
  • Natural Sciences: using the mode of scientific inquiry characterized by such fields as biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, ecology and environmental science.
  • Social Sciences, the study of human behavior and cultures, including the study of sociology, anthropology and psychology
  • Thoughtful Action - Goddard students are required to take some intentional action to affect the world outside of themselves often, but not necessarily, in collaboration with others. John Dewey, among others, argued that education must include experience. Others since have referred to “praxis,” that is, putting theory into practice. This praxis is demonstrated in the specific ways you:
    • Identify issues, concerns or objectives in your community and the larger world.
    • Plan strategies and articulate intentions with mindfulness, conviction and commitment.
    • Implement or try out strategies for addressing concerns, problems or objectives.
    • Reflect on actions, including an assessment of effectiveness, impact on you and others, and lessons learned toward future action.
  • Positive Self-Development: As you develop broad knowledge and engage in thoughtful action, you will grow and change. The degree to which you engage this process intentionally, and reflect on that change in yourself, is demonstrated in the ways you:
    • Engage in a conscious process of personal growth and change in response to learning, life experiences, and relationships.
    • Integrate learning into your sense of who you are, who you want to be, and how you are growing.
    • Integrate an ethical perspective.
    • Develop clarity and understanding of yourself and your identity in relationship to your own life and to others.

Articulating a Social and Ecological Context

Part of Goddard’s mission statement encourages individuals to take imaginative and responsible action in the world  As you address the core degree criteria above--Wide Knowledge, Thoughtful Action and Positive Self Development--you are asked to consider how your work fits into a larger context of social and/or ecological sustainability.  How is your work motivated by, or conscious of, a need to create durable, just and sustainable cultures?

Skills in Thinking, Learning and Communication
The following skills are required of all undergraduate students at Goddard College:

  •     Engaged critical thinking and writing
  •     Research
  •     Use and documentation of sources
  •     Writing mechanics
  •     Presentation of ideas to others in forms appropriate to the subject and audience
  •     Understanding and use of technology
  •     Cultural understanding

To learn more about individualized study plans and the wide range of liberal arts studies possible within the program, contact the Admissions Office.