How to Conduct an Archeological Dig and Write a Curricular Educational Priority

One of the very first steps one undertakes when developing a residential curriculum is crafting an educational priority. An educational priority is the basis upon which all other goals and outcomes are derived. Based in the mission, context, and values of your institution, an educational priority should provide a broad statement about what your division or department aims to teach. In many ways, the educational priority statement serves as a sort of “mission” for your curriculum–a short, bite-sized statement (or very brief paragraph) about what the curriculum is about and what students will learn.

Words Matter in a Residential Curriculum

When thinking about my own experience in developing a residential curriculum, I’m reminded of a wordsmithing session I had with some colleagues.  We were attempting to set some broad learning goals for our curriculum and we wanted to ensure that our language encouraged critical reflection but also allowed for a diversity of viewpoints.  It took us a while, but there was one phrase we finally settled on: “Students will be able to act from an internal coherent ethical belief system.” This original formulation was mine and I chose my words carefully.  I chose “internal”… Read More