New Signature Program Brings Simon’s Rock Students to the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing

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In its continuing efforts to encourage and broaden students’ academic and life experiences, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in collaboration with the University of Manchester, has developed a new signature program in creative writing. Beginning this fall, Simon's Rock writing students will have an opportunity to spend up to a full year at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester, in the UK.

"This is a very exciting opportunity that will enable Simon's Rock students to get to know another culture, enhance their creative writing, and return with a larger set of expectations of what they can accomplish in their senior thesis at Simon's Rock," says Peter Filkins, literature and writing faculty member. "The program will allow our students to work in a dynamic undergraduate writing program at one of Europe's top universities," which Filkins believes is essential for young writers.

While students at Simon’s Rock are certainly exposed to acclaimed and writers both on and off campus and through guest lectures, Filkins says that the program will compliment their studies. "Manchester offers a broad array of top-notch fiction writers, poets, and essayists, including Martin Amis, perhaps England's premier novelist."

The program adds to four signature programs and partnerships already in place at the college. However, this is the first signature partnership that will support writing and literature students specifically. It is the second partnership the college has taken with a prestigious university in the United Kingdom. The first collaboration came in 2007 when Simon’s Rock articulated an agreement with Lincoln College at Oxford University.

How it works

"Simon’s Rock students will have an internal application process where they will write a personal statement outlining why they want to attend the program and how it fits with their academic goals," Director of Academic and Career Resources Sue Lyon explains. She says that there has been no limit set so far, as to the number of students who can attend. However, given the college’s small size, it is estimated that two or three students per year may pursue this unique opportunity.

Launched in September 2007, The Centre for New Writing was designed to develop and refine the creative and critical work of its students, explore and research collaboration between creative and critical writing, and broaden access to literature and writers in the region. Founded on the principle that good reading and good writing naturally go together, the Centre’s goal is to be a place where the best, most interesting contemporary literature is both written and written about.

Students participating in the program will also be included in The Manchester Leadership Program, which seeks to inspire students in leadership roles that promote social, economic, and environmental sustainability. "This component of the program will allow students to automatically participate in seminars and experience disciplines not available at Simon’s Rock," Lyon explains. Students in the leadership program will acquire project management, communication, presentation, conflict resolution and teamwork skills.

The creative writing program joins six other signature programs:

  • Simon’s Rock/Columbia Engineering Program (The 3:2:1 program)
    This program offers students the opportunity to study for three years at Simon’s Rock, two years in the engineering school at New York’s Columbia University, and, at the end, receive a BA from Simon’s Rock and a BS from Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.

  • Simon’s Rock Scholars at Oxford
    Simon’s Rock students with exceptional academic records may spend their junior year in residence at Lincoln College with the full rights and responsibilities accorded Oxford students. This program is available in the disciplines of chemistry, history, literature, mathematics, and philosophy, politics, and economics enabling students from multiple concentrations to study abroad at one of the oldest and most renowned of Oxford’s colleges.

  • The Junior Fellows Program
    The pro seminar in Social Scientific inquiry is the only in-house Signature Program at Simon’s Rock. Commencing in the 2008-2009 school year, students are provide with an opportunity for immersion in social theory, social research, and social action through intensive interaction with scholars active across the broad spectrum of the disciplines.

  • Studying at Bard
    Simon’s Rock students also have the ability to spend time studying at Bard College. There they can integrate coursework to further advance their goals.

  • Summer Study in Tours, France
    Since 2003, Simon’s Rock students have participated in the Institut de Touraine summer program. Founded by Bard College more than 20 years ago, students in the program live with a family in France for one month while studying the language. They may also enroll in history, literature or art classes while spending their free time discovering France and French culture.

  • China Summer Program: Sacred Landscapes and Nature Conservation in China and the Tibetan Borderlands: Trekking, Research, and Service Learning
    In the Summer of 2008, students were introduced to the social ecology of urban and rural landscapes in China’s eastern coastal region and in the less developed western interior. Through readings, talks, treks, and service work, students gained appreciation for the physical and socio-cultural diversity of the subtropical Southeast Uplands, the loess plateau, the North China Plain, and the snow-capped Hengduan Mountains of the Sino-Tibetan borderlands.