The Burlington College of 2020 – Our Vision for the Future

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Burlington College’s educational philosophy is deeply rooted in student-centered learning and active citizenship. Founded in 1972 as the Vermont Institute of Community Involvement, the College has from its origin focused on integrating learning, personal development, and community engagement. We will continue to honor the individuality of each student, emphasize the relationship between education and experience, and create meaningful connections between the academic institution and the surrounding community.

A Burlington College Education

Burlington College provides a transformative liberal arts education that is relevant and affordable. Our intentionally small, student-centered learning environment is at the heart of all we do. Students work closely with faculty as they plan and pursue their studies, supported by a rich array of resources and real-world experiences.  Our undergraduate and graduate programs provide unique opportunities for individualized study, and our students thrive in an environment that allows for both collaborative and solitary academic pursuits.

The classroom experience at the College is characterized by dialogue, interaction, and perspective-taking. Standing and community faculty are practitioners in their fields; as artists, historians, filmmakers, activists, writers, lawyers, entrepreneurs, counselors and business professionals, they bring their varied and rich experience into our classrooms.

The Relevance of Liberal Arts

We do not set arbitrary boundaries between reading great literature and starting a business, between studying the American Revolution and producing award-winning films, or between learning and experience: we consider learning to be a lifelong endeavor.  The bond between faculty and students remains well beyond a student’s graduation, and our alumni have a deep connection to the college.
We do not set arbitrary boundaries between studying locally and studying globally: students deepen their understanding of other cultures through study and travel, forging rich and life-changing relationships with mentors and friends around the globe.

Through our integrated and interdisciplinary curriculum and dedicated academic advising, students prepare for meaningful lives, with a foundation in the liberal arts, practical skills in their chosen discipline, and careful attention to personal growth. We intentionally guide students through a continuum of self-understanding, from personal reflection during their first year to subsequent internships and civic engagement endeavors, and finally to an individually defined capstone project that expresses their passions, synthesizes their learning, and prepares them for graduate school or careers in their chosen field.

Our graduates are critical thinkers, collaborative problem solvers, and effective communicators; they possess qualities which lie at the core of all human endeavors in life, work, and community: initiative, empathy, imagination, resourcefulness, independence, and creativity. They are guided by social consciousness and self-awareness in their local, national and global communities.

Our Students

Our students are independent and eager to take responsibility for their future. They care about others and want to make a difference in the world; they are creative and entrepreneurial, curious and free-spirited.  They have come to Burlington College to follow their own path of inquiry within a sound and supportive academic structure.

The College is modestly bigger than it was ten years ago, with an increasingly diverse student population.  Our students from Vermont find that a Burlington College education will prepare them for a rewarding working future in the state they grew up in and love.  Our New American students come to the College confident that their education will be the path to more fulfilling lives for themselves and their families. We provide an engaging alternative for high school students who are ready to experience the excitement and challenge of college life in a small and supportive environment.  And we are a welcoming campus for international students seeking a new perspective or cultural experience. 

Our Community

Our students are immersed in a dynamic, hands-on learning environment, and there is a sense of academic excitement and community spirit on the campus. In a culture built on mutual respect and collaboration, faculty, staff, and students feel their lives and work on campus are meaningful and fulfilling.

The College is an integral component of the academic, intellectual, and social life of the wider community.  As an open and welcoming campus, we are an exemplar of college/community partnerships. There is great local pride in the College, due to the close relationships between the College, local high schools, and the surrounding neighborhoods. The Institute for Civic Engagement is acclaimed for its engagement of scholars, artists, scientists, writers and students dedicated to the ideals of an informed and active citizenry. Its free and accessible legal and literacy clinics provide opportunities for internships for our students, while providing important public services for the community. The Institute for Contemplative Studies is a destination for scholars, students, and visitors from Vermont and across the nation seeking inspiration and training in mindful leadership and self-reflection.

The campus is a vibrant community gathering place, with local residents frequenting the campus to attend film screenings, lecture series and gallery exhibits, or to participate in our continuing education programs. In addition to public uses, the property is a popular venue for private functions such as weddings and conferences.

Our Campus

Our unique campus radiates a sense of excitement and pride as we continue its transformation. Our historic building has been strikingly restored and serves as a centerpiece for the entire campus. With comfortable residences overlooking Lake Champlain, on-campus dining, and a fitness center, living on campus is the preferred option for most of our undergraduates.  Our newly renovated student center, library, art studios, and classrooms are spacious and inviting. The campus is also an accessible and important resource for the city of Burlington, providing public meeting spaces, galleries, fertile ground for community gardens, quiet areas for contemplation and reflection, open space for recreation, and visual and physical access to the lake.  

Burlington College has grown into a beacon of light and learning, engaging students with our state, our nation, and our world, while enriching the lives of the North End community, in all its diversity and cultural richness.