2008-2009 Undergraduate Catalog

2008-2009 Catalog

About Bryn Mawr College: College as Community

Believing that a small college provides the most favorable opportunity for students to participate in their own education, Bryn Mawr limits the number of undergraduates. While the class of 2004 was the largest in Bryn Mawr’s 119-year history, it was still just 359 undergraduate women. Bryn Mawr’s comparatively small size allows its students and faculty to work closely together and to know each other well as individuals. With a student-to-faculty ratio of nine to one, Bryn Mawr undergraduates enjoy the increasingly rare privilege of a mentor-apprentice model of learning and scholarship.

In addition to being a renowned college for women, Bryn Mawr has two excellent coeducational graduate schools — the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. The presence of the graduate schools contributes significantly to the strengths of the undergraduate program and the richness of the undergraduate experience. Qualified undergraduates may enroll in graduate seminars, participate in advanced research projects in the natural and social sciences, and benefit from the insights and advice of their graduate-student colleagues.

While retaining all the benefits of a small residential women’s college, Bryn Mawr substantially augments its resources and coeducational opportunities by cooperation at the undergraduate level with Haverford College, Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania. This cooperative arrangement coordinates the facilities of the four institutions while preserving the individual qualities and autonomy of each. Students may take courses at the other colleges, with credit and without additional fees. Students at Bryn Mawr and Haverford may also major at either college. Bryn Mawr also has a limited exchange program with Villanova University.

The cooperative relationship between Bryn Mawr and Haverford is particularly close because the colleges are only about a mile apart, and naturally, this relationship extends beyond the classroom. Collections in the two colleges’ libraries are cross-listed, and the libraries are open to students from either college. Student organizations on the two campuses work closely together in matters concerned with student government and in a whole range of academic, athletic, cultural and social activities. When there is equal interest from students at both campuses, Bryn Mawr and Haverford offer a housing exchange so that a few students may live on the other campus for a year.

Bryn Mawr itself sponsors a broad cultural program that supplements the curriculum and enriches its community life. Various lectureships bring scholars and other leaders in world affairs to the campus not only for public lectures but also for classes and conferences with the students. The Arts Program at Bryn Mawr supports and coordinates the arts curriculum and a variety of extracurricular activities in creative writing, dance, fine arts, music and theater. A regular schedule of concerts and productions is directed by the arts faculty at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges, together with performances by the theater and dance programs and other student-run groups. These activities are complemented and enhanced by an extensive program of readings, exhibitions, performances and workshops given by visiting artists.

Student organizations have complete responsibility for the many aspects of student activity, and student representatives join members of the faculty and administration in making and carrying out plans for the College community as a whole. Bryn Mawr’s Self Government Association, the nation’s oldest student self-government organization, provides a framework in which individuals and smaller groups function. The association both legislates and mediates matters of social and personal conduct.

Through their Self Government Association, students share with faculty the responsibility for the Academic Honor System. One of the most active branches of the association is the Student Curriculum Committee, which, with the Faculty Curriculum Committee, originally worked out the College’s system of self-scheduled examinations. The joint Student-Faculty Committee meets regularly to discuss curricular issues and to approve new courses and programs.

The Self Government Association also coordinates the activities of many special-interest clubs, open to all students; it serves as the liaison between students and College officers, faculty and alumnae. The Athletic Association also provides opportunities for a variety of activities, including intramural and varsity contests. Both the Bryn Mawr college news and Bryn Mawr-Haverford’s The Bi-College News welcome students interested in reporting and editing.

Students participate actively on many of the most important academic and administrative committees of the College, as they do on the Curriculum Committee.  Two undergraduates meet with the Board of Trustees, present regular reports to the full board and work with the board’s committees. Two undergraduates are also elected to attend faculty meetings. At the meetings of both the board and the faculty, student members may join in discussion but do not vote.

Bryn Mawr’s undergraduate enrollment and curriculum are dedicated to a respect for and understanding of cultural and social diversity. As a reflection of this dedication to diversity, Bryn Mawr’s student body is composed of people from all parts of the United States, from many nations around the world, and from all sectors of society, with a special concern for the inclusion of historically disadvantaged minorities in America.

The International Students Association enriches the life of Bryn Mawr through social and cultural events. Sisterhood works to address the concerns of African-American students, to foster their equal participation in all aspects of College life, and to support Perry House, the African-American cultural center, which sponsors cultural programs open to the College community and provides residence space for a few students.

Other student organizations include the Asian Students Association, BACaSO (Bryn Mawr African and Caribbean-African Student Organization), Mujeres (Latina students), Rainbow Alliance (lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students) and South Asian Women. These groups provide forums for members to address their common concerns and a basis from which they participate in other activities of the College.

Students who wish to volunteer their services outside the College find many opportunities to do so through Bryn Mawr’s Civic Engagement Office. The office supports numerous community-service and activist groups and projects by offering transportation reimbursement for off-campus volunteers, mini-grants for individuals and groups planning service activities, a database of internship and volunteer opportunities, and other resources for student volunteers. Through their interest and participation in these many aspects of the College community, students exemplify the concern of Bryn Mawr’s founders for intellectual development in a context of social commitment.

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Updated August 25, 2008 by Tracy Kellmer