Academic Philosophy


Human Ecology — Skills to Learn

Academic PhilosophyThe faculty of College of the Atlantic commit to help students learn the following skills and habits of mind as part of their COA education:


The ability to imagine and construct novel approaches or perspectives, to be innovative and to invent in all endeavors. This includes the flexibility to use many different approaches in solving a problem, the ability to change direction and modify an approach, the originality to produce unique and unusual responses, and the ability to expand and embellish one's ideas and projects. This also includes taking intellectual and creative risks and practicing divergent thinking.

Critical Thinking

The ability to not only interpret and evaluate information from multiple sources but also to induce, deduce, judge, define, order, and prioritize in the interest of individual and collective action. This includes the ability to recognize one's self-knowledge and its limits, challenge preconceptions, and work with imperfect information.

Community Engagement

The ability to lead and collaborate with diverse individuals, organizations, and communities, and a deep understanding of oneself and respect for the complex identities of others, their histories, their cultures. This includes the ability to work effectively within diverse cultural and political settings.


The ability to listen actively and express oneself effectively in spoken, written, and nonverbal domains.

Integrative Thinking

The ability to confront complex situations and respond to them as systemic wholes with interconnected and interdependent parts.


The ability to think, research, and communicate within and across disciplines while recognizing the strengths and limitations of each disciplinary approach.

Ratified unanimously by the faculty on November 9, 2005.

A School of Human Ecology

What does it mean to teach human ecology if you’re a chemist? How about a literature or math professor? One winter afternoon, Don Cass, COA’s chemist, Dave Feldman, who teaches math and physics, and Karen Waldron, who teaches literature, gathered in Dave’s office to discuss.

Read the article...

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