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The Value of Liberal Education
Bard College president Leon Botstein and CNN's Fareed Zakaria consider the question: what is the value of a liberal arts education today? These two astute commentators on education and its role in society engage in a discussion moderated by Sam Tanenhaus, former editor of the New York Times Book Review.
Structure of the Curriculum
The pillars of the Bard education are:
Language and Thinking (L&T): This three-week orientation program and academic workshop is for first-year and transfer students from early to late August or for spring transfer students from mid to late January. Students arrive on campus before the start of their first semester at Bard to engage in this program grounded in writing, philosophy, literature, and critical thinking in small classes of 12-14 students. Social events are also planned for students during this time. Students are assigned a registration advisor who helps them select their courses and offer academic advising during this workshop and orientation program.
First-Year Seminar (FYSEM): This program is required of first-year students in both their fall and spring semesters. Transfer students have the option of engaging in First-Year Seminar as well. In some cases, at least one semester of FYSEM is required for transfer students depending on how many transfer credits from a previous institution transfer with them to Bard College. This program is, in many ways, an extension of L&T in that it focuses heavily on reading and writing around intentionally selected texts and on class discussion.
Citizen Science: This program is required for first-year and transfer students. It provides students the space to explore the sciences and their roles as citizens of the world. Several tracks are available for students to tailor the program to their interests.
Moderation: Through this process, students make the transition from the Lower College to the Upper College and establish their major in a program. Transfer students entering with the equivalent of two full years of credit (64 credits maximum) have two semesters in which to complete Moderation. Each student prepares two Moderation papers, the first assessing his or her curriculum, performance, and experience in the first two years, and the second identifying his or her goals and proposed study plan for the final two years. The student also submits a sample of work he or she has done in the program—for example, a long paper written for a course. The work is reviewed by a board of three faculty members, who evaluate the student's past performance, commitment, and preparedness in the field; make suggestions for the transition from the Lower to the Upper College
Senior Project: Preparation for the Senior Project begins in the junior year. Students consult with advisers and pursue course work, tutorials, and seminars directed toward selecting a topic, choosing the form of the project, and becoming competent in the analytical and research methods required by the topic and form. Students in some programs design a Major Conference during their junior year, which may take the form of a seminar, tutorial, studio work, or field or laboratory work. One course each semester of the student’s final year is devoted to completing the Senior Project. The student submits the completed project to a board of three professors, who conduct a Senior Project Review. Written projects are filed in the library’s archives; select papers are available at Digital Commons, a collection of scholarly work generated by the Bard community.