Bryn Mawr

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2004-05 and 2005-06

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Academic Opportunities

College Seminars

The College Seminars are discussion-oriented, reading- and writing-intensive courses for first-year students. All students are required to take a College Seminar during the first semester of their first year. Topics vary from year to year, but all seminars are designed to engage broad, fundamental issues and questions, ones that are not defined by the boundaries of any academic discipline. The purpose of the seminars is to help students become better close readers and interpretive writers. Course materials are chosen to elicit critical thinking and lively discussion, and may include, in addition to books and essays, films, material objects, social practices, scientific observations and experiments. For College Seminars offered in recent years, see

Praxis Program

Praxis is an experiential, community-based learning program which operates on the belief that the integration of theory and practice through student engagement in active, relevant fieldwork, enhances student learning and builds citizenship skills. The program provides consistent, equitable guidelines along with curricula coherence and support to students and faculty who wish to combine coursework with experiential and research-related field placements. The three designated types of Praxis courses — departmental courses, interdepartmental seminars and independent studies — are described at

Praxis courses on all levels are distinguished by genuine collaboration with fieldsite organizations and constant movement between theoretical reflection and fieldwork. The nature of fieldwork assignments and projects varies according to the learning objectives for the course and according to the needs of the organization.

Fieldwork functions as a living textbook while a dynamic process of reflection incorporates lessons learned in the field into the classroom setting and applies theoretical understanding gained through classroom study to work done in the broader community.

The role of the Praxis Office is to assist faculty in identifying, establishing, and supporting field placements and to develop ongoing partnerships with community organizations, such as social service agencies, schools, government offices, and museums. Field supervisors orient the student to the fieldsite, identify placement objectives, and oversee the work of the student at the site. Field supervisors frequently visit the classroom as guest presenters and co-teachers. Faculty members retain ultimate responsibility and control over the components of the Praxis Program that make it distinctly academic: course reading and discussion, rigorous process and reflection, and formal presentation and evaluation of student progress.

Centers for 21st Century Inquiry

Bryn Mawr’s interdisciplinary centers encourage innovation and collaboration in research, teaching and learning. Conceived as part of the College’s Plan for a New Century, the four interrelated centers are designed to bring together scholars from various fields to examine diverse ways of thinking about areas of common interest, creating a stage for constant academic renewal and transformation.

Flexible and inclusive, the centers help ensure that the College’s curriculum can adapt to changing circumstances and evolving methods and fields of study. Through research and internship programs, fellowships and public discussions, they foster links among scholars in different fields, between the College and the world around it, and between theoretical and practical learning.

The Center for Ethnicities, Communities and Social Policy is devoted to the interdisciplinary study of diverse communities and the examination of social-policy questions in the North American context. The Center sponsors research by faculty and students, hosts visiting scholars, and provides a forum for public discussion of issues significant to academics, policymakers and the broader community.

The Center for International Studies brings together scholars from various fields to define global issues and confront them in their appropriate social, scientific, cultural and linguistic contexts. The Center supports collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and prepares students for life and work in the highly interdependent world and global economy of the 21st century.

The Center for Science in Society was founded to facilitate the broad conversations, involving scientists and nonscientists as well as academics and non-academics, that are essential to continuing explorations of the natural world and humanity’s place in it. Through research programs, fellowships and public discussions, the Center supports innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to education in the sciences, novel intellectual and practical collaborations, and continuing inquiry into the interdependent relationships among science, technology and other aspects of human culture.

The Center for Visual Culture is dedicated to the study of visual forms and experience of all kinds, from ancient artifacts to contemporary films and computer-generated images. It serves as a forum for explorations of the visual aspect of the natural world as well as the diverse objects and processes of visual invention and interpretation around the world.

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Bryn Mawr College · 101 North Merion Ave · Bryn Mawr · PA · 19010-2899 · Tel 610-526-5000