In a new column for Inside Higher Ed, Catherine Epstein, dean of the faculty and Winkley Professor of History, writes about how small, intensive learning communities can help build bridges between diverse groups of students.
“We’ve found that if students who share academic interests spend considerable time together, they will often forge strong personal connections,” she writes, describing initiatives such as College-funded class trips overseas and research tutorials.
“At Amherst and other select liberal arts colleges, we face the challenge of creating a sense of campus belonging and community among a remarkably diverse student body,” she writes. “We cannot leave diversity work divorced from our primary academic endeavors; we should not separate it from our central academic mission. When we forge a sense of belonging and community through intellectual pursuits, we rely on the most fundamental task of the university: intellectual inquiry.”