Overview and Learning Goals


The education department fuses Bowdoin College's spirit of inquiry and commitment to the common good by connecting the history of schooling, educational theories, and pedagogical approaches to contemporary educational dilemmas. Students are able to coordinate studies in education with the liberal arts curriculum in a variety of ways—including research, community-engaged study, and teacher preparation.

Core Values

The following core values guide all aspects of the education department's curriculum, teaching, and scholarship:

  1. Be aware of the big picture. The study of education sheds light on one of the fundamental public institutions of the United States. Such study also reveals the humanistic dimensions of teaching and learning that are vital to constructing a meaningful life. Responsible teaching and informed dialogue about education depend upon a solid background in the social foundations of education.
  2. Embrace theory and practice. Theoretical and text-based inquiries, as well as empirical studies of all kinds, provide a basis for understanding the purpose and practice of education. For teachers, effective practice depends upon a strong foundation of content knowledge and thoughtful application of curricular and pedagogical theory to practice. Teachers and students at all levels of education gain expertise by listening, observing, doing, and reflecting.
  3. Model and live in the spirit of inquiry. Students and instructors in the education department position themselves first as learners about those they teach and about the communities in which they teach. They recognize the limitations of their own perspectives and the need to draw on multiple sources of knowledge. Students and instructors in the department believe that teachers, especially, cannot assume that others will learn as they did and do. Therefore, teachers cannot teach only as they were taught. Teaching is an intellectually challenging practice that requires ongoing learning, self-assessment, collaboration, and research.

Learning Goals

The following learning goals emerge from the education department's core values and inform the development of individual courses:

  1. Students draw on disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives to analyze education and schooling, including how power and inequity shape policies, dilemmas, and debates.
  2. Students draw on disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives to analyze educational practices, teaching, and learning, including how power and inequity shape learning experiences and outcomes.
  3. Students demonstrate their understanding of the diverse ways individuals and groups make meaning and interpret their experiences of education.
  4. Students create well-reasoned and research-based arguments to support their beliefs about equitable and quality educational practices, learning environments, and schooling.

Academic Program

Students may choose to coordinate their study of education with any department/program at Bowdoin that offers a major or they may minor in education.

Course selection for the coordinate major is completed in close consultation with an education department advisor. Students who choose to major in sociology, for instance, might construct a course of study that explores “schooling and social difference” and take courses in educational philosophy, sociology of education, student exceptionality, education and citizenship, and gender, sexuality, and schooling. Students who choose to major in government and legal studies might construct a course of study in “school reform” and take courses in educational policy, education and law, school privatization, urban education, and educational history. Students who choose to major in biology and are considering becoming life science teachers might construct a course of study around “science teaching and learning” and take courses in student exceptionality, science education, teaching and learning, curriculum development, and urban education.

Options for Majoring or Minoring in the Department

Students may elect to coordinate a major in education with any other department/program major, or to elect either the mathematics and education or physics and education interdisciplinary major. Students pursuing a coordinate or interdisciplinary major may not normally elect a second major. Non-majors may elect to minor in education. 

Department Website

This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue