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A Diverse Academic Experience

Intellectual Diversity

Barnard's extraordinary cultural, ethnic, geographic, racial, and religious diversity creates an environment for living and learning that places special value on each student’s voice. In classrooms, lounges, residence halls—everywhere Barnard people gather—these voices build confidence and spark inspiration. At Barnard, conversations on our campus and in our classrooms explore how women learn to navigate their multiple identities in the global community. In short, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual and geographic orientation, and gender are all important factors and they are multifaceted and interwoven. At Barnard, no single identity is a singular discussion.

Voices in Our Classrooms

At the heart of the curriculum are broad set of general education requirements, which help students process information, think independently, and express themselves effectively. Such breadth affords considerable room for individual choice and for exploring multiple perspectives on nearly every issue imaginable. Alumna, Joanne Garce ’94 described her experience at Barnard in this way, "I am always amazed at how many different interests and passions there are at Barnard. I felt that we were drawn to the institution because of our intellectual curiosity and ability. I enjoyed being challenged in the classroom like I never had been before by both peers and teachers."

Additionally, students are guided by dedicated faculty members, such as Dorothy Ko, Professor of History, who are equally engaged.  Professor Ko states, "No matter who you are, no matter what the color of your skin, at Barnard you will encounter someone who is unfamiliar and something that challenges your view of the world. Not all of it is comfortable. But if you extend yourself, you will be transformed, and your life will be so much richer because of it." The Barnard experience is one where teachers and students are equally invested in discovery and exchange.

Voices in Our Community

Programming college-wide, sponsored by the Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Office of Diversity Initiatives, the Athena Center for Leadership Studies, the Office of Career Development , the Forum on Migration, and Well Woman, focuses on the complex manifestations of diverse perspectives in women, in terms of politics, health, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, and personal story. Every student here benefits from our unusual diversity, one that goes well beyond, but includes, ethnicity, allowing each person’s identity help shape the Barnard experience. This is why Barnard women describe their experience as transformative--each new lens adds to their developing perspective.

Off-campus, off-continent

Opportunities to study as part of our study abroad or domestic exchange programs enrich the Barnard experience. Each year, more than a third of our students choose to spend a semester or a year immersed in a culture and setting very different from the community they have found on the Barnard campus.  Upon their return to campus, newly developed perspectives continue to diversify discussions and shape goals for the future.

Barnard approves programs of study throughout the world. Approved programs are carefully vetted to ensure that they will meet the standards of a Barnard education. These programs may focus on critical global issues (such as Global Health, Sustainable Development, Culture and Identity, for example) and may include major, minor or elective coursework. Most programs either function as direct enrollment in foreign universities, some with onsite support from U.S. colleges and universities, or provide field study experience in addition to faculty lectures and a variety of educational excursions. Learn more about Study Abroad at Barnard.

Domestic exchange programs are available with Spelman College and Howard University. Barnard students in the Spelman program may register for classes at any of the institutions within the Atlanta University Center: Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, the Interdenominational Theological Center, as well as Spelman. In addition, Barnard students may participate in the Columbia University–Howard University Exchange Program. More information is available through the Dean of Studies Office.