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. By the end of their time at Bennington, students graduate with a résumé as well as a diploma.
The Center for the Advancement of Public Action (CAPA) is a state-of-the-art, green, academic facility that morphs the studio of the artist, the laboratory of a scientist, the workshop of a craftsman, and the think tank of a policy wonk. Designed by award-winning architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the Center opened in June 2011.
Bennington holds a distinguished place among American colleges and universities. It was the first to include the visual and performing arts in a liberal arts education, and it is the only college to require that students spend a term—every year—at work in the world. Rooted in an abiding faith in the talent, imagination, and responsibility of the individual, Bennington invites students to pursue and shape their own intellectual inquiries, and in doing so to discover the interconnection of things.