Curricular Innovation

    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

On A Deep Level

Faculty member David Anderegg on assignments and fashionable diagnoses, by Briee Della Rocca.

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Iron Chef Instruments img
Iron Chef Instruments

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.

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Pop-up courses at Bennington let faculty, experts, and students to dive deep into the issues as they happen by Jeanne Bonner MFA ‘16.

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 Literary Bennington img
Literary Bennington

Snapshots from our social media channels.

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Future Studio

Two faculty members and nine students made a startup out of a class by Aruna D'Souza.

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The Long And Short of IT

A quick view of some ways Bennington faculty members break out of a typical course pacing model by Jeva Lange ’15.

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Moving Beyond Words img
Moving Beyond Words

Content-centered language learning teaches not just how to speak but how to think by Briee Della Rocca.

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Meaningful Measurement

As colleges and universities look to the future of higher education, some seek a more meaningful measure of value by Heather DiLeo.

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Word and Image Lab img
Word and Image Lab

A survey of the Bennington curriculum by Briee Della Rocca.

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Whose Opera img
Whose Opera?

In a company, in a class - a look at faculty member Kitty Brazelton's course Whose Opera? By Aruna D'Souza.

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True North

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.

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Museum Term

Bennington's inaugural Museum Fellows Term by Briee Della Rocca.

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Celebration Service

A survey of the Bennington curriculum.

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A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me(Book)
David Gates, MFA(w) faculty member (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, May 2015)
The Hand That Feeds You
A.J. Rich / Amy Hempel, MFA(w) faculty member (Scribner, July 2015)
Book- Let me tell you
Laurence Jackson Hyman ‘64 (editor); Shirley Jackson (author); Sarah Hyman DeWitt ‘70 (editor) (Random House, August 2015)
Book- Scattered at Sea
Amy Gerstler MFA ‘01 (Penguin Random House, May 2015)
Book- Teaching a man to unstick his tail
Ralph Hamilton MFA ‘09 (Sibling Rivalry Press, LLC, March 2015)
Book- Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age
Sven Birkerts, Director of the Master in Fine Arts Writing Program (Graywolf Press, October 2015)
Book- The Oyster War: The True Story of a Small Farm, Big Politics, and the Future of Wilderness in America
Summer Brennan ‘01 (Counterpoint Press, August 2015)
Book- Drinking in America: Our Secret History
Susan Cheever, MFA(w) faculty member (Twelve, October 2015)
Book- Hold Still
Sally Mann ‘73 (Little, Brown and Company, May 2015)
Book- Ordinary Light
Tracy K. Smith, former MFA(w) faculty member (Knopf, March 2015)
Book- Reading Claudius
Caroline Heller, MFA ‘01 (The Dial Press, August 2015)
Book- Think South: How We Got Six Men and Forty Dogs Across Antarctica
Cathy de Moll ‘73 (Minnesota Historical Society Press, October 2015)
Book- KooKooLand
Gloria Norris ‘76 (Regan Arts, January 2016)
"The entire book is rich" The New York Times
"...a twisty, unsettling thriller" The New York Times
"...cuts to the heart of life" Vanity Fair
"[This book] knocks you over and changes how you view the world…" The Washington Post
"...haunting the reader with those human questions" The Chicago Tribune
"...compelling...because it is moderate" The New Republic
"A narrative celebration of the striking landscape of the Point Reyes Peninsula" The San Francisco Chronicle
"...sideways views that are intriguing" Associated Press
National Book Award Finalist National Book Foundation
“...that lost world [of] youthful longings.” The Boston Globe
“ edge-of-your-seat adventure tale.” Outside Magazine
“An electrifying coming of age memoir…” O, The Oprah Magazine