Academics

Bennington’s Plan process allows students to focus their course of study on the questions and problems that interest them rather than demanding fulfillment of a set list of disciplinary requirements.  Student Plans combine work in the full disciplinary range of science and mathematics, but often define non-traditional paths to graduation, combining work across disciplines within the sciences and combining work in science and math with work in other disciplines.

Our diverse and active faculty offers an innovative and ever-evolving curriculum that allows students to work  across the spectrum of the traditional areas of studymathematics, biology,  astronomy and physics, chemistry, environmental science, earth science, computing — in both exploratory, introductory offerings, and in advanced, project-driven classes and tutorials.  Bennington students work closely with their advisors and teachers to tailor their individualized program and to gain direct experience in the creative undertakings of science and math.

Bennington graduates are competitive for graduate and medical schools and professional opportunities in the traditional arenas of science.  But they are also ready to take advantage of creative and novel niches and opportunities that traditional ‘majors’ may not prepare them for.

Guidelines for advanced work appropriate to plans with focus in natural science, math, and computing:

Students concentrating in natural science, mathematics, or computing, or students having natural science or mathematics as a major focus of their plan, are expected to complete appropriate advanced work in one or more of the associated disciplines.

What defines advanced work varies greatly from student to student and should be developed, as appropriate to individual Plans, in conversation and conjunction with relevant faculty member(s). For some it is a formal thesis. For others, it may be an experimental or literature-based project conducted in the structure of a mentored tutorial (although it need not be conducted in the context of a tutorial). It may also be, in part or in whole, and upon agreement of the relevant faculty member(s), work performed in the context of an advanced class.

The specific form of the advanced work for a given student is typically discussed well in advance with the faculty member(s) with whom he or she will work and then proposed in the student’s Plan Confirmation Meeting during the sixth term. We encourage frequent and ongoing conversations with students concerning their advanced work so as to prevent misunderstandings about its nature, structure, and content.

Students anticipating undertaking advanced work in natural science or mathematics should be in dialogue with relevant faculty member(s) early on in the plan process (ideally by their third or fourth term) and consistently thereafter. Students are also expected to participate in the 5th Term Math and Science seminar course, one purpose of which is to facilitate thinking about and development of advanced work ideas. Attendance at weekly Science Workshops is also expected. Finally, students make a presentation of their advanced work at Science Workshop, or as a poster at the Fall and/or Spring Science Poster Session in their 7th or 8th terms.

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