Claremont McKenna College

Learning Together

After a year of virtual teaching and learning, we’re ready to restore our full in-person classrooms and academic programs. Seminars and tutorials; learning from peers; close relationships with faculty; project-based learning and collaboration; advanced research with institutes, centers, and labs; partnerships and work experience on-and off-campus—we look forward to the restoration of our residential liberal arts and leadership program.

We will carry lessons learned from our successful innovations this past year: the ability to connect with and learn from those who cannot be physically next to us; the incorporation of guest faculty and leading experts; and new courses focused on critical issues and challenges in the world, including the ongoing pandemic, race, economic dislocation, climate change, and the realignment of international relations, among other pressing topics.

Fall Courses

Having spent a year redesigning courses, adapting pedagogy, and finding creative new ways to keep students engaged, CMC faculty have never been more prepared to meet the demands of the 21st-century classroom. Faculty have transformed their courses — and their approach to teaching and learning — by trying new strategies and learning new skills. They found original ways to enhance faculty-student interaction and foster collaborative learning, and these developments are here to stay.

Our fall course curriculum will include opportunities derived from successful strategies over the last year, such as:

Expert Guest Speakers
Outside guests enriched courses taught in all departments, bringing new perspectives and leading discussions on a wide range of topics, including environmental ethics, critical race theory, sociolinguistics, comparative politics, public policy, neural diversity, and epistemology and epistemic agency.

Faculty-led Small Group Seminars and Projects
Entire courses for small groups of 3 to 6 students were developed around a specific research project or focused topic, from rural renewal in South Korea to the ethics of non-rational influence on behavior. This course structure facilitated deep intellectual engagement and close collaborative work on projects, including applied research in organizational psychology and the impact of telehealth services on children with autism spectrum disorder.

Collaborative Student Projects
As part of their courses, many faculty included collaborative group projects that allowed for deeper exploration, experiential learning, and leadership growth through applied research and collaboration with outside experts and industry professionals.

Strategies for Building Community
Teaching remotely has highlighted the importance of building community, working collaboratively, and supporting each other in the classroom. Professors used strategies to help students get to know each other and work together to explore, learn, and take on new challenges. These transformative approaches strengthened and diversified the way we teach and learn, and we’re excited to put them into action on campus in the fall.

New Curriculum on Key Issues
Over the last year, we have invigorated our curriculum in ways that help students engage more critically with current events and the world around them. In the fall, students across the College will explore topics such as global climate change, economic dislocation, technology and international relations, the intersection of religion and politics, the ethics of using and collecting data, and the relationship between race, citizenship, and inequality in American schools. Students will hone their skills in journalism, design activism, and data science.

Sample Fall 2021 Courses
Read more about innovative courses offered this spring and available again this fall: 

Lessons Learned
Professors share their curricular highlights, best practices, and how students helped to shape virtual learning for a memorable, collaborative academic experience this spring.

Co-Curriculars and Academic Support

In supporting each other over the past year, we’ve discovered additional strengths and forged strong connections. As faculty developed new courses and mastered innovative pedagogical practices, they mobilized their students as TAs and RAs for essential support and special insight into the student perspective. The student-faculty collaboration that we’ve always prized at CMC helped us transform the experience of online learning, bringing us closer despite often being miles apart. Our extraordinary research institutes and co-curricular programs found unprecedented ways to keep us all connected, motivated, and intellectually engaged.

This has been a year of reflection, too — on what drives and defines us, and also what brings us together and sustains us as a community. We began the 2020-2021 academic year reading together as part of the anti-racism reading group, and as we look to the year ahead, we’re excited to learn from our newly selected Faculty Fellows who will carry on the work of the Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism. We’re coming back better, smarter, and more prepared to meet the challenges of our time.

Some successful innovations from last year and exciting new developments include enhanced programming by academic support programs.

  • In a new program designed to support first-year writers, the Center for Writing and Public Discourse brought Writing Associates directly into the classroom to work alongside faculty and provide concentrated writing support and peer mentorship in our Freshman Writing and Freshman Humanities Seminars.
  • The Murty Sunak Quantitative and Computing Lab has tailored their peer mentoring program that includes one-on-one appointments and drop-in tutoring. A number of professors are now using course mentors — students assigned to mentor for a particular course — for more course-specific, targeted tutoring. The QCL will also offer a breadth of training workshops on programming languages and various computational skills throughout the year.

Fostering deep intellectual engagement through research remains a central piece of the CMC mission.

  • CMC’s research institutes and centers continue to thrive, providing our students with graduate-level research opportunities alongside our distinguished faculty. They continue to develop original programs that align with the individual missions of each, and that connect with current events.

Students are looking ahead to summer research with faculty through our Summer Research Program, Creative Works Fellowships, Appel Fellowships, and Sponsored Internships and Experiences Program.

Liberal Arts and Leadership

Our focus on liberal arts and leadership offers extensive opportunities for students to develop their voice and practice communicating across disciplines and media, by practicing their writing and presentation skills and learning to engage in discussion and debate across differences. Students can hone a variety of leadership skills by engaging relevant, impactful research in courses and through co-curricular programming.

CMC students have unparalleled access to academic leadership positions at CMC, and the opportunities keep expanding.

  • Research positions with individual faculty and with CMC’s stellar institutes and centers throughout the academic year and summer
  • Course teaching assistantships
  • Peer consulting positions through the CWPD and the QCL
  • Course-specific peer mentoring positions

CMC also offers a variety of new leadership programming through our institutes. 

  • The Kravis Leadership Institute’s new Women in Leadership Development (WLD) Program will help students develop skills and strategies to support leadership growth at CMC and beyond. A small cohort of students will participate in a kick-off retreat, four intensive workshops, women alumnae leader salons, WLD community engagements, and one-on-one leadership coaching during the academic year.      
  • Students can also look forward to a “Leadership Dialogue” series of events on leadership, race, and inclusion, as well as leadership skills-building workshops on topics such as effective networking and principles of persuasion. And this year, KLI’s Leadership Development Plan will feature a new coaching component designed to foster courage, creativity, and collaboration — three core competencies that students will develop alongside certified leadership coaches.
  • The Kravis Lab for Social Impact will offer two intensive 8-week programs for first- and second-year students to work closely with program mentors to build core skills, discover new strengths, and cultivate empathy, resilience, and the ability to engage in discourse across differences. Students will work together to create lasting social change through community impact programs.
    Academic Calendar
    • Monday, August 30: First day of classes
    • Monday, September 6: Labor Day Holiday (no classes)
    • Monday, September 13: Last day to add classes
    • Mon/Tues, October 18-19: Fall Break (no classes)
    • Thursday, October 21: Last day to drop courses without record
    • Wed-Sun, November 24-28: Thanksgiving Recess (no classes)
    • Monday, December 6: CMC senior thesis due
    • Friday, December 10: Last day of CMC classes
    • Mon-Fri, December 13-17: Final exams for all students

    These are preliminary updates and additional information will be provided as plans are finalized.


    Innovation Videos

    Click here to view our series of Academic Innovation videos.

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