Academics

BEC Hudson Valley’s academic objective is to provide an intellectually challenging and inspiring academic program for students and enable them to take a part-time college course of study in the 11th and 12th grades, free of charge. The program provides a seamless transition for students from high school to college and results in college readiness and the opportunity for students to complete 30 transferable college credits from Bard College.

Our students gain:

  • An understanding of the scientific method – its approaches to inquiry, its strengths and limitations as a mode of analysis, and a basic comprehension of the fundamental laws governing both physical phenomena and human behavior;
  • An appreciation of several forms of artistic and literary expression, the creative process, and the disciplined use of imagination, formal structure, and aesthetic values;
  • A flexibility of thought that allows for creative problem solving through an integration of quantitative and qualitative techniques;
  • Knowledge of some of the most influential works of Western culture and critical understanding of the values, assumptions, ideologies that they express;
  • Knowledge and appreciation of modes of thought of other cultures – including non-Western cultures, and groups or societies that exist as distinct subcultures within Western culture; 
  • A sense of history – ideas, movements, peoples, and events of the past – and an understanding of how our view of the past is shaped, and shapes our understanding of the present and future; and
  • Sensitivity to the moral and ethical dimensions of thought and action, and developing the ability to make informed moral and ethical decisions. 
Small group of students

All classes are taught by college faculty who are active and accomplished in their fields. Classes are inquiry- and discussion-based, encouraging active engagement with professors and peers. All students take a two-year interdisciplinary seminar sequence, one class a semester. Through critical reading and interpretation, students engage with seminal texts from antiquity to modernity across the humanities.

A core component of our academic model is Bard Writing and Thinking pedagogy, designed by the Bard Institute for Writing and Thinking, which infuses the Bard Early College classroom. Every fall semester at Bard Early College begins with The Writing & Thinking Workshop, a multi-day intensive learning experience that provides students in every grade level with interesting exercises in critical reading and writing upon which they can build in their regular courses. Based on the principle that strong writing and close reading enrich and enliven the classroom experience in all disciplines, the workshop sets the stage for the kind of interdisciplinary, intensive, writing work students will engage with during their time at BEC.

Faculty members across disciplines include W&T in their classrooms, using short writing and critical reading exercises, including “focused free writes,” “text explosions” and dialectical journals accompanying group discussions about the texts at hand to facilitate dialogue and as a tool for reflection, skill assessment, and continued development. Most importantly, Writing and Thinking pedagogy helps students learn how to use writing as a powerful tool for developing their thinking and voice.The Seminar Sequence is the signature humanities experience of the Bard Early College program. The four-semester interdisciplinary Seminar Sequence exposes students to seminal texts from antiquity to modernity, which students engage through critical reading and interpretation. Readings include Plato’s The Last Days of Socrates, Dante’s Inferno, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Goethe’s Faust, Darwin’s The Origin of Species, Marx’s The Communist Manifesto, Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, Forster’s A Passage to India, Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Kafka’s The Trial, and Frayn’s Copenhagen, among others. The Seminar Sequence is modeled on Bard College’s signature humanities course, First-Year Seminar.

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