President Coleman delivered the closing speech at the 25th annual TED Conference in February 2009, anchoring a lineup that included Al Gore, Bill Gates, Oliver Sacks, and Herbie Hancock. TED brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, challenging them to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. In her talk, President Coleman delivered a call-to-arms for radical reform in higher education.
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Each academic year, students participate in a seven-week, off-campus winter term called Field Work Term (FWT). During each of their four FWTs, students take their interests to the world beyond Bennington, where they pursue jobs and internships in areas that complement their studies—in fields ranging from publishing to politics, from museums to teaching, from medical research to social work.
Bennington has always built deep connections between doing and knowing, action and reflection, the classroom and the world. The College's annual Field Work Term, like its teacher-practitioner model of teaching, are expressions of these connections. Bennington's Center for the Advancement of Public Action offers students a cross-curricular dynamic between personal ambitions and public responsibilities.