What should every educated person know? Bard College at Simon’s Rock has several curricular components that present strategies to answer this very question. Developed at different points in the College’s evolution—from the RAP credit, which was present since the College’s beginning, to the Writing and Thinking Workshop, First-Year and Sophomore Seminars, and the Moderation Process, all of which are rooted in Bard’s curriculum—these foundations are constructed to develop skills that support a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. A student of any discipline must possess the ability to think critically, read closely, write articulately, move confidently, collaborate freely, and listen intently. It is Simon's Rock's aim to nurture students as they acquire fluency in each of these areas of engagement.
Imported from Bard and originally based on the English model, where moderation is the first public examination for a student earning his or her BA at Oxford, this process is an opportunity for students to present work they’ve completed to date, discuss interests and goals, and plan a course of future action and study. The Moderation process is rooted in a commitment to dialog that is not simply pedagogical, but collaborative—meaning literally “‘to labor with.’” All students, regardless of their initial intentions, are encouraged to go through Moderation because of this exceptional opportunity to spend devoted time with several faculty members, discussing only the student’s thoughts and ambitions. The group labors together, brainstorming possibilities and asking questions, with the understanding that a student must have support to successfully step over the threshold into his or her next experience, wherever that may lead. Students nearing completion of the second year at Bard College at Simon’s Rock approach a crossroads, a point at which they must make an important decision. They can choose to graduate with an associate of arts degree from the College and transfer to another institution to pursue their bachelor of arts degree; they can travel, work, or take time off; or, they can choose to apply for admission to pursue a bachelor’s of arts degree at the College. Moderation provides students with support at this crucial point. Together with a faculty advisor, students meet with a Moderation Committee of faculty members familiar with the student’s work. Prior to the conference, the student prepares a written Moderation Statement that explores these matters and distributes it to all members of the committee. Students will decide whether to keep the current advisor or switch to another. For students, Moderation is an opportunity to explore options, gather resources, and seek advice; for the faculty committee, it provides an opportunity to assess the student’s readiness to undertake advanced coursework, including a senior thesis. A Moderation letter from the advisor to the student summarizing the discussion confirms acceptance; all second-year students are required to moderate before registering for courses as a junior. Prior to the meeting, students discuss Moderation and transfer options individually with the director of Academic and Career Resources.