Goddard is a one-of-a-kind institution of higher education with a history of creativity and chaos, invention and experimentation, of growth, decline and reemergence. It is an institution that has survived with integrity and adherence to its founding values for nearly 150 years, with the fortitude of a pioneering spirit and the unpredictability that such a spirit can bring.
The Goddard of today took shape in earnest in 1938, when a group of educators led by Royce “Tim” Pitkin proposed a Vermont “College for Living” to be located on a Plainfield sheep farm purchased from the Martin family. This new college would provide the environment for students and faculty together to build a democratic community featuring plenty of the “plain living and hard thinking” espoused in Goddard’s early mission. The aims were far-reaching, radical. These aims still influence and, with some change in nomenclature and practice, aptly describe Goddard to this day. The original, 1938 Goddard College catalog described them this way:
- Education for real living, through the actual facing of real life problems as an essential part of the educational program.
- The study of vocation as part of living rather than as something different and an end in itself.
- The integration of the life of the College with the life of the community, and the consequential breaking down of the barriers that separate school from real life.
- The use of the community as a laboratory.
- The participation of students in policy making and in the performance of work essential to maintenance and operation as part of the educational program.
- The development of a religious attitude that is free from sectarianism recognizing that any activity which is pursued on behalf of an ideal end of universal worth is religious.
- The provision of educational opportunities for adults.
The new college, while small in scale (starting with 50 students and a truckload of old furniture and books moved to the Martin family’s farm), was rich in inspiration, drawing on the experiences of Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, Reed, the new Antioch, Black Mountain, St. John’s, and the educational innovations of the University of Chicago. Most people in the Goddard community now associate “Kilpatrick” with the main dormitory on the Greatwood Campus in Plainfield. However, it was Dr. William Kilpatrick, an influence on founding president Tim Pitkin and in whose honor the building is named, who stated three principles key to the Goddard practice:
- The most fundamental fact of life is change.
- People learn only what they inwardly accept.
- Education is a moral concern.
To advance cultures of rigorous inquiry, collaboration, and lifelong learning, where individuals take imaginative and responsible action in the world.
This school offers programs in: