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Mission + Learning Goals

The Gallatin School of Individualized Study provides a distinctive liberal arts education for a diverse student body. Our faculty foster passionate intellectual commitments from learners and prepare them for a world in which managing knowledge is key to success. Guided by the philosophy that self-directed learning is the key goal, the faculty seek to cultivate an environment conducive to intellectual exploration across traditional academic disciplines, and they insist on active student engagement in developing the direction of their own education. Our highly specialized and deeply engaged advisers guide students in their intellectual explorations toward an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving.


Bachelor of Arts Program Learning Goals

A Gallatin education is designed to help students become life-long learners by developing their capacities for creative self-development, for self-reflection about their aspirations, practices, and the worlds they inhabit. Gallatin's approach to student learning is therefore holistic, individualized, and interdisciplinary. Upon completion of the requirements for the Bachelor of Arts degree in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, students will have accomplished the following:

  1. All students learn how to forge their various and sometimes disparate intellectual and/or artistic interests into an individualized program of inquiry and learning that comprises their concentration. Student concentrations should demonstrate breadth, depth and coherence.
  2. Students gain proficiency in oral and written communication. They learn to write clear and well-developed analytical prose that reflects careful and complex thinking.
  3. Students learn the critical analysis of ideas, themes and texts from major historical, cultural, scientific and philosophical traditions.
  4. Students learn to become active learners in the classroom and to probe the relationship between the material they study in the classroom and the worlds outside of it – in the city and in the world beyond, in the domain of work beyond the classroom and in the professions they seek to enter.
  5. Students learn to approach their own lines of inquiry with creativity and rigor, which transcend traditional disciplinary and professional categories and via the conception and execution of individualized and innovative projects.


Master of Arts Program Learning Goals

Upon completion of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, students will have demonstrated the ability:

  1. To create an individualized and integrated program of study drawing on theories, methods and practices from a variety of disciplines, schools of thought and professions;
  2. To demonstrate familiarity with a substantial body of thought, academic and professional literatures, and related practices germane to their individually constructed programs;
  3. To perform effectively the higher forms of cognitive and intellectual operations: not merely to know and understand facts, ideas, theories, and texts, but also to analyze, synthesize, render judgments (including, where appropriate, ethical and/or aesthetic judgments), and interpret them; to identify significant questions in their areas of concentration and to explore, investigate and respond to them in rigorous, imaginative and productive ways; for artists and practitioners, to approach their work with an understanding of the theoretical and scholarly tools that can inform it (following the artist/scholar or practitioner/scholar model);
  4. To utilize effectively the technical skills and tools required for locating and employing appropriate informational, organizational and material resources for their work; to implement effectively the methods of research and practice demanded by their self-designed fields;
  5. To present their ideas and practices effectively in oral, written, and, if appropriate, visual and virtual communication;
  6. To produce a culminating work (viz., a research, artistic, or project thesis) that integrates and reflects a substantial portion of the ideas, practices and skills acquired through their individualized programs; in one of several forms of the thesis, students will demonstrate:
    • Research thesis: the ability to articulate a significant research question, to locate it in its theoretical and/or applied context, to design methods of investigation appropriate to that problem, to collect and analyze relevant information using productive concepts and theories, and to construct an effective argument in response to the central research question(s);
    • Artistic thesis: the ability to produce an artistic work (a film, novel, dance concert, series of paintings, etc.) of high quality; to conduct a research study that relates the creative work to appropriate theoretical and scholarly contexts; and to analyze the creative process effectively in technical and logistical terms;
    • Project thesis: the ability to identify and analyze an issue, problem or need in the chosen area of practice; to design, implement and evaluate a professional project addressing that problem; and to describe and explain that project in a written document that incorporates appropriate theoretical and scholarly tools and approaches.