“To be a truly global institution and prepare our students to face the challenges of the 21st century, we know we will have to combine the power of a traditional liberal arts curriculum with hands-on learning.”
Ronald D. Liebowitz, President
Profiles | Beyond the Classroom
How do the liberal arts and experiential learning relate to one another?
Studies show that when you apply your liberal arts knowledge and skills in real-world contexts, learning is greatly enhanced. In his research, Dr. George Kuh identifies “high impact” educational practices, most of which involve various forms of experiential learning, as key to fostering college student success and learning. Whether these hands-on opportunities are a part of a course or something you pursue outside of the classroom entirely, they can deepen your understanding of complex problems and help you make active connections between the classroom and the broader world.
Are there academic courses that include experiential learning?
There are many courses that involve experiential learning. To find them, read through the course descriptions and talk with faculty in the departments you’re interested in. Here’s some interesting work by students in recent courses:
If I have an idea I want to pursue through an independent project, how can I do that?
You might do this as an assignment within a related course you are taking, through an independent study course proposal, as a Winter Term project, or through your senior “capstone” efforts. Check with the department in which you want to pursue your project for details about process.
How do I pursue a project during the summer?
Are there opportunities for experiential learning during study abroad?
Yes! Internships are a key part of many study abroad programs, and an excellent way to immerse yourself in the local culture. You can also find opportunities to volunteer locally. And after your program ends, you may find volunteer or internship opportunities to extend your stay. You could apply for support for an unfunded internship or pursue a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the integration of study abroad with senior-level work back on campus.
I’d like to apply my research skills to help meet a community or organizational need. Is there support for that?
The Academic Outreach Endowment Fund provides financial support for projects that engage research skills in helping to meet community-identified needs. Examples of these approaches include project-based learning (when there is a direct community connection), service-learning, community-based learning, and participatory action research.
I’ve heard that the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) is a part of Middlebury. Are there opportunities for undergraduates there?
If you are interested in the international realm, you’ll definitely want to explore what MIIS offers:
Is there funding available to support my out-of-classroom pursuits?
EIA manages a funding database to help you find appropriate options for support.