Envisioning Middlebury is a framework, and not a plan. The distinction is key. The framework is an active strategy that requires continual participation by the community that crafted it. It is not a checklist of things to do, but rather a strategy that will guide Middlebury’s work now and into the future.
Through a commitment to immersive learning, we prepare students to lead engaged, consequential, and creative lives, contribute to their communities, and address the world’s most challenging problems.
- Ensuring responsible
stewardship of all
- Making intentional
choices in pursuit of
- Promoting effective
relationships and a
- Committing time and
space to facilitate
our collective goals
Middlebury’s bold mission and vision is supported by a relationship with a community that transcends time and place. Undergraduate students are in Vermont for four years, yet for so many, their engagement with the institution is just beginning.
Place-based experiential learning
From the founding of the first Language School in 1915 to School of the Environment sessions held in Vermont and now China to the work of the Center for the Blue Economy at the Middlebury Institute (to name a few examples), “place” has both a profound and practical role at Middlebury; it always has.
Full participation in diverse communities
If Middlebury is to address the world’s most challenging problems, it must fully participate in the world at large. This can be defined by geography (C.V. Starr Schools Abroad); culture, both globally (Language Schools) and locally (civic engagement in the places we call home); and self—that is, as a community are we as diverse and inclusive an institution as the world we seek to engage?
A 21st-century education requires a nimble organization, one that seeks to capitalize on synergies in practice and pedagogy. Interdisciplinary collaboration and the confluence of programmatic strengths (School of the Environment moves to China) allow for a broader education experience.
Educational collaboration and partnership
Middlebury’s partnerships with external organizations provide students with insight into global issues—and firsthand experience in working to find solutions to challenges worldwide.
Digital fluency and critical engagement
Digital fluency is not a new trend at Middlebury. The Bread Loaf Teacher Network began harnessing the power and flexibility of the digital realm in 1982. The Geographic Information Systems lab at the College and the Mixed-Methods Evaluation, Training, and Analysis Lab at the Middlebury Institute use geospatial analysis to tackle real-world problems and issues. And the Digital Liberal Arts initiative at Middlebury has given faculty fellows and students the opportunity to apply innovative digital tools and practices to scholarly work in the humanities.
Global network of educational programs and opportunities
With 38 schools abroad in 17 countries; a graduate institution in California; 11 immersive language schools at sites on both the East and West Coasts of the United States; a graduate school for English operating on campuses in Vermont, New Mexico, and Oxford, England; the nation’s oldest writers’ conference, with sessions in Vermont and Italy; a school for the environment, now convening in China; and a prestigious liberal arts undergraduate college at the heart of it all in Vermont. No other school in the country can say the same.
To address the world’s most challenging problems, one must understand not only the myriad cultures found around the globe, but how these cultures relate to one another.
Effective communication and influential expression
Working across all borders—be they intellectual, geographical, or cultural—requires one to be an active listener and engaging speaker.
Emergent teaching, learning, and research horizons
The horizons for best practices in teaching, learning, and researching are broadening, and Middlebury has proven adept at experimenting with form and function. The Development Practice and Policy program at the Middlebury Institute, which has piloted different pedagogical approaches to course work, is one such area where this Middlebury distinction has emerged.
Middlebury’s foundational and enduring educational purpose. This statement of mission is the first to be inclusive of all of Middlebury’s academic programs (though each program has its own new mission statement as well). Think of the mission as the answer to this question: What is Middlebury on its best day?
What distinguishes Middlebury from most other institutions. Note that this term is singular, and that is intentional. The four elements distinguish Middlebury in external comparisons to other institutions but are not meant to signify internal strengths. That is, Middlebury’s global network of educational programs and opportunities sets the institution apart from institutions that do not have this network, but it doesn’t necessarily signify that this network is better or stronger than, say, Middlebury’s science offerings (which are commonly found at most liberal arts institutions).
The work Middlebury needs to do to achieve its vision in support of the mission. The directions arise from identified strengths at Middlebury and represent strategic steps the institution must make to allow the defined vision to become reality.
Guides to how Middlebury should go about its work. Arising from more than 500 pages of submitted material (survey results, conversation transcripts) that informed the planning process, these identified principles will help guide how Middlebury pursues strategic opportunities.
The world that Middlebury is trying to create. This statement of vision is more dependent on time and context than the mission statement. Given what Middlebury is right now and considering what the future may hold, where does the institution need to go?