There is a clear connection between the practice of liberal education and the conduct of democracy. Recent disinvestment in education and anti-liberal forces coincide with an erosion of democratic norms in the United States and internationally. The challenges of college access among underrepresented populations and a dwindling faith in the kind of education necessary for democratic life are helping drive the global frenzy of anti-democratic sentiment. Bard College seeks to address the urgent challenges of democracy and education through innovative practice and advocacy that recognizes the importance of the arts in expression and dissent, and creates the first global, independent, sustainable undergraduate and graduate educational network. The future of democracy requires redefining higher education for the 21st century. Bard’s record of success in the West Bank, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Hungary, China, and urban centers in the US demonstrates the broader potential of this approach to transform lives and communities.
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Charity, fund, non-governmental organization, religious institution, school, or other entity
The need for Bard’s project, Addressing the Crisis of Democracy through a Global Higher Education Network, is not only greater during a pandemic or any world-wide crisis but also can be met by the organic and nimble nature of the project itself. Our close and creative approach to education is informing our development of new and effective ways to teach and support our students and engage with our communities across the world, even as we adapt to this crisis and its impact on higher education. We would revise the budget to include greater resources for high-quality connected learning, such as additional staff to assist all faculty with technology, more in-depth and continued training for faculty among all partners, and the purchase of new equipment and the upgrade of current equipment. A global higher education network as envisioned by Bard College and its partners has already mitigated risks as, even in the most perilous of times, it fosters critical thinking, open intellectual inquiry, and fact-based research, educates students to address tomorrow’s global challenges by getting to know other societies from the inside and expands access to higher education at a time of growing inequities in order to cultivate a new generation of globally engaged citizens and create new pathways for underserved communities into higher education.
Racial and Ethnic Injustice Response
This top-100 project, a global liberal arts network, is the first international university system not defined by a single nation or political institution. It operates across borders and is characterized by student-centered teaching and facilitated in real time by technology and interpersonal connection. Bard has already demonstrated, through programs such as the Bard Prison Initiative, the Bard Early Colleges in seven US urban centers, and international partnerships such as the Al-Quds Bard College for Arts and Sciences in the Palestinian West Bank that by acting institutionally as engaged citizens, colleges and universities can enhance learning, increase engagement, and reach underserved populations to help provide the tools necessary to support civil society and democracy and fight systemic discrimination and remove the barriers that prevent or limit access to education and learning.