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The past three decades have been a particularly vibrant time at the College. Bard has strengthened its core mission of excellence in undergraduate education, grown rapidly in size, and broadened its scope and ambitions. As highlighted by President Leon Botstein on the occasion of its 150th anniversary, Bard now has five dimensions, each of which supports the others: the undergraduate program, graduate education, the arts, international education, and the reform of secondary education. Bard’s expanding system of affiliated programs, partnerships, and centers of scholarship—recent additions include a liberal arts college in the West Bank, a music school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and an early college program in New Orleans—reflects this broader mission, and provides new opportunities for student engagement with critical global issues and with leading scholars, artists, and experts in a diverse array of fields.
Choice, flexibility, and rigor are the hallmarks of the Bard education, which is a transformative synthesis of the liberal arts and progressive traditions. The liberal arts tradition at Bard is evident in the common curriculum for first-year students, including the First-Year Seminar and Citizen Science Program, and in general courses that ground students in the essentials of inquiry and analysis and present a serious encounter with the world of ideas. The progressive tradition is reflected in Bard’s tutorial system and interdisciplinary curriculum, which emphasize independent and creative thought, and the skills required to express those thoughts with power and effect. Students are encouraged to be actively engaged throughout the four years of their undergraduate experience and to help shape, in tandem with faculty advisers, the subject matter of their education.