Middlebury’s Mission Statement
Through a commitment to immersive learning, we prepare students to lead engaged, consequential, and creative lives, contribute to their communities, and address the world’s most challenging problems.
--from the Envisioning Middlebury framework, adopted October 21, 2017 by the Middlebury Board of Trustees for all Middlebury programs
Introduction to Middlebury’s Handbook
This Handbook supersedes previous editions of the College, Institute, and Language Schools Handbooks as of its online publication date. Section I applies to all students, faculty and staff of Middlebury programs, while other sections may apply only to specific populations, such as students in a particular program. Middlebury ensures compliance with local laws throughout its programs, in the United States and abroad, while setting common expectations for the behavior of all members of Middlebury programs to advance Middlebury’s educational mission. Practical considerations of style and a desire to present information to the Middlebury community in a useful, efficient manner dictate that this Handbook focus on the more general principles that govern our relationships to each other, rather than articulating multiple procedures and variances in implementation that ensure compliance with local laws.
Academic Freedom, Integrity, and Respect
Middlebury’s educational mission is supported by three pillars: the right of academic freedom, the responsibility of personal and professional integrity, and the value of respect.
Academic freedom is vital to the pursuit of knowledge. In seeking truth and understanding in a complex world, scholars must have the ability to ask any question, test any hypothesis, consider any line of reasoning, and critically assess any assumption. Middlebury therefore recognizes that members of its community have the essential right to freely speak, hear, write, challenge, and argue, and to pursue questions of their choice using methods, sources and approaches of their choice. Middlebury accepts an institutional obligation to resolutely defend and protect this right for all members of its communities, even when doing so admits inquiry and speech that some may find offensive. While this right is broad, it is not without limit. The Handbook defines and describes specific circumstances in which unfettered freedom would infringe on the rights of others or impede Middlebury’s educational mission and operations. These sections delineate policies prohibiting disruption of Middlebury’s educational functions, define Middlebury’s general conduct standards and anti-harassment and discrimination policies, and address the rights and obligations of faculty in establishing the parameters of courses. Such policies are intended to protect Middlebury’s academic mission and the personal rights of all members of its community, not to inhibit academic inquiry and expression
With the right of academic freedom comes the responsibility of integrity, which is a key guard against false information and the abuse of power. Personal and professional integrity have many components that extend beyond the specifics of Middlebury’s honor code, and they encompass a broader ethical practice of inquiry pursued with rigor and honesty. Professional integrity requires recognition of the expertise of past and current communities of scholars and students, and necessitates critical evaluation of this received knowledge. It also demands honest and transparent reporting of research, observation, and experimental evidence, consistent with the respective standards of our disciplines. On a personal level, integrity calls for recognition of the limits of one’s own knowledge and expertise at any moment in time, and demands curiosity and creativity in the face of those limits. It also means the willingness to take a principled stand even when it is unpopular, and equal willingness to admit error. Correspondingly, given that interpretations and arguments are contestable, having integrity means acknowledging alternative understandings as well as allowing others to examine them. Above all, integrity requires awareness of the ways in which personal and institutional power can threaten academic freedom and a commitment to protect it equally and for all.
Academic freedom and integrity are necessary but not sufficient to pursue knowledge and critical engagement with the wider world. Engagement with the ideas and experiences of others are also key guards against our own individual limitations and biases. We, as members of this academic community, therefore recognize the fundamental principle ofmutual respect. We aspire to demonstrate intellectual range and emotional generosity by opening ourselves to different perspectives. As an institution, Middlebury is committed to creating an atmosphere in which all of its members live and work free from discrimination and harassment. Its defense of academic freedom must be waged in conjunction with the principle of civil discourse. While disagreement is inevitable and acceptable in a free and diverse community, we strive, on both individual and institutional levels, to cultivate respect and responsibility for self, others, and our shared environment.
--Adopted by the President in August 2018, upon the endorsement by the Middlebury College Faculty and the Faculty of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.