Understanding the Mission Statement
What is Middlebury on its best day? The answer to that question lies in Middlebury’s mission statement, annotated below. With the adoption of a new strategic framework, the Board of Trustees approved the first statement of mission that is inclusive of all of Middlebury’s academic programs. Further, each individual school—the College, the Institute, the Language Schools, the C.V. Starr Schools Abroad, the Bread Loaf School of English, and the School of the Environment—has a new mission statement of its own.
1. Immersive Learning
You hear a lot of talk about immersive learning in education circles these days, with the predominant focus on pedagogical uses of technology. At Middlebury, though, immersive learning has been part of the core of what we do for generations. The Language Schools were founded on this principle and continue to embrace this ethos today through the Language Pledge. You can find immersive learning practices in undergraduate pursuits as diverse as a Geographic Information Systems seminar and the winter term musical at the Town Hall Theater. And can you find a learning situation more immersive than a summer studying literature on the Bread Loaf campus or attending a history class, taught in German, at a university in Mainz?
As the mission statement for the institution, students, in this case, are not only the 2,500 undergraduates who attend the College and are on the Vermont campus from September until May, but also the 700 students at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, the 1,500 students at the Language Schools, the 400 students at the Bread Loaf School of English, the 25 students at the School of the Environment, and the 300 students at our Schools Abroad.
3. Engaged, Consequential, and Creative
Engaged, consequential, creative. These are subjective adjectives, but surely they resonate for a reason. They resonate when you think about that John Elder course that nurtured in you a fervent commitment to lifelong learning. They resonate when you think about that Middlebury Institute graduate who is one of the world’s foremost experts on cyberterrorism or the Bread Loaf alumna who teaches on a Navajo reservation—and brings the world to her students and her students to the world through Bread Loaf networks. A life of consequence and meaning, fueled by creativity, is instilled in our students throughout their educational experience—it’s the field hockey player, the dancer, the neuroscience major, and the social entrepreneur who discover or enhance a particular passion and are then ready to apply the same focus and discipline and joy to whatever comes next.
4. Contribute to their Communities
When we talk about community, we could be talking about your neighborhood in Chicago or we could be talking about, well, the Earth. Environmental stewardship, civic engagement, transnational outreach are all ways in which we present students with opportunities to serve the greater good. Think about the students who volunteer at Addison County’s Charter House, who travel to Latin America during spring break and engage in service learning projects, who design an NGO that upends conventional wisdom on sustainable development. Think about the students who—with time and space and effort and ingenuity—can create an organization that starts a global movement to combat climate change.
5. World’s Most Challenging Problems
The loftiest of goals, yet one that is also intended to be relative to environment and experience. One may be working in the White House, tasked by the president of the United States with leading the negotiation of a global climate accord, while another leads a classroom of fourth graders in a public school in the Bronx. Each has been prepared to seek out and tackle challenges found the world over.