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Before Task Force members turned to the assignment of developing a number of initiatives for community discussion, we developed a list of educational outcomes we hope our students will achieve by the time they graduate from Tufts. The purpose of this exercise was to make explicit the goals that we are trying to attain as a result of our proposals. The outcomes themselves are not particularly distinctive or unique to Tufts, nor are they intended to be. Indeed, most of these outcomes are described in the AS&E mission statement. However, the Task Force has found it useful to distinguish between Tufts' educational goals for our students and the unique characteristics of the institution that help us reach those goals. As such, the articulation of desired educational outcomes has provided the Task Force with a useful frame of reference as it evaluates the efficacy of various initiatives.
The following outcomes represent the Task Force's distillation of what a Tufts education should provide its students.
1. Intellectual Engagement
Ideas will matter to Tufts graduates. Our graduates will appreciate that ideas have intrinsic value beyond any practical or utilitarian application. They will be enthusiastic participants in the processes by which knowledge is produced, challenged, defended, and transmitted. They will feel responsible for protecting and encouraging intellectual investigation, and they will understand their own education as ongoing and lifelong.
2. Critical Thinking and Creativity
Tufts graduates will be able to think clearly, logically, and creatively. They will be able to analyze arguments and assess information judiciously. They will understand the different ways of constructing knowledge in different disciplines and will have the ability to construct reasoned, persuasive, and well-structured arguments that make effective use of quantitative and qualitative evidence. They will be imaginative in their search for solutions to problems and in their application of knowledge.
Tufts graduates will be able to express themselves clearly and persuasively. They will understand and appreciate oral, written, and visual media and have the facility to employ them to disseminate their thoughts and feelings. They will be able to weigh the consequences of a statement or action and to express themselves with civility.
4. Complexity, Synthesis, and Application
Tufts graduates will be able to see their courses as interconnected pieces of a larger whole. During their four years at Tufts, they will have gained both depth and expertise in a specific discipline and also an understanding of the relationship of this discipline to other areas of study. They will approach with enthusiasm the application of their knowledge to the world’s many problems. They will be open to new and unfamiliar ideas and able to incorporate into their understanding newly discovered facts, transformed circumstances, or superior arguments.
5. Personal, Ethical, and Social Development
Tufts graduates will possess the capacity for self-examination, moral discernment, and ethically based action. Our students will strive to develop their own personal identity and cultivate habits of body and mind that will enable them to lead happy and productive lives. Our graduates will be able to evaluate the consequences of their ideas and actions, and they will have the personal courage to defend them when necessary. They will be able to think about their own thinking, both its cultural commonalties and its uniqueness. Through their courses, living-experiences, and citizen-based service opportunities at the University, our students will develop a compassionate social imagination (the capability to understand the lives, needs, and rights of others-- whether next-door or on a different continent). They will recognize that their own culture is a lens through which they view the world and understand systems of power, and they will be able to consider their own place within these systems.
6. A Sense of Community and Culture
Every Tufts student will feel that he or she is known in significant ways by members of the Tufts community during their years at the University. Each student will embrace affiliations as well as relate to a broader community that welcomes others from diverse backgrounds. Tufts students will develop an enduring and deepening sense of connection with our University, and this sense of belonging will serve as a base from which our students can experience interconnection with and a sense of responsibility for both the local and global communities of which they are a part. This broadened sense of connection, in turn, will provide students with a heightened understanding of the role of the University and the educated citizen in the world at large.
In sum, a Tufts education provides our students with the opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom, to develop the critical and creative capacities that will enable them to go forth into the world and make a difference. We hope that this education instills in our students a lifelong pride in Tufts and the community of scholars and friends they have found here and abroad.
We have used these six outcomes as a working definition of a Tufts education. As we considered new initiatives to propose for the community's consideration, we have asked ourselves how each initiative contributes to one or more of these outcomes that we hope to effect for each of our graduates.
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