I have never taken a class at Bennington yet I find myself, every term, poring over a curriculum that leaves me wanting to have the time and room to take all of Bennington’s classes. It is a daydreaming exercise, favoriting far too many courses that make me wish I was a student again—but then I’d only be able to take a term’s worth of courses.
Perhaps this is why I have gotten so accustomed to hearing seniors, past the point of satisfying their requirements for graduation, tell me they are taking 16, sometimes 18, credits. They all say the same thing: It is my last chance to take classes here.
When we talk about a joy of learning, which can seem as clichéd and amorphous as a love of life, this is what we are talking about: students taking on more than they have to, entering spaces and classes they are not required to, always wanting to do more than seems feasible—drawn in by a curriculum that is reinvented term after term, year after year. Who could resist the gravity of a class that invites students to build a radio telescope, or that takes them into the “Science of Consciousness,” or “The Art of Auditioning” or one that teaches “How to Study a Natural Disaster”?
If we devoted every magazine issue to curricular innovation at Bennington we would still miss all that happens here. For now, we took these pages to glimpse some of what makes Bennington’s curricular approach authentically innovative: from devising new systems to meaningfully measure what happens within and outside of the curriculum (page 20) to the deep thinking on everyday academic givens like homework, participation, and textbooks (pages 19, 27, 33) to collaboration (page 30) and new models (page 38)— some even business models (page 16).
Alumni beware: You may find yourself, as I do at the beginning of each term, in a state of wishing to go back. The difference is that you can, but this time at a pace that will let you savor. AlumniWorks (page 41) and a new alumni online class, Literary Bennington (page 40) invite you to return to the classroom—on campus and online—and take it in once again. And, featured on page 37, you will find a more comprehensive collection of dates to save for alumni events on campus and throughout the country. Enjoy the trip back.
Briee Della Rocca
Faculty member David Anderegg on assignments and fashionable diagnoses, by Briee Della Rocca.
In a modern revival of Bennington’s historical practice of requiring musicians to be able to craft their own instruments, Nick Brooke’s “Instrument Building” class encourages both traditional know-how and unconventional innovation.
Pop-up courses at Bennington let faculty, experts, and students to dive deep into the issues as they happen by Jeanne Bonner MFA ‘16.
Two faculty members and nine students made a startup out of a class by Aruna D'Souza.
A quick view of some ways Bennington faculty members break out of a typical course pacing model by Jeva Lange ’15.
Content-centered language learning teaches not just how to speak but how to think by Briee Della Rocca.
As colleges and universities look to the future of higher education, some seek a more meaningful measure of value by Heather DiLeo.
In a company, in a class - a look at faculty member Kitty Brazelton's course Whose Opera? By Aruna D'Souza.
Bennington students, working in collaboration with the State Department's Art in Embassies program, are creating a public artwork for the U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway—and, in the process, are learning how art can function as a form of diplomacy. By Aruna D'Souza.