Imagine That

By Nicole Anderson ’12JRN, Editor-in-Chief

Nicole Anderson

As I write this letter, I am nearing the end of my pregnancy. Like so many expectant parents, I’ve been reading up on anything and everything about newborn care. There’s certainly no shortage of apps, websites, books, and articles dispensing advice and tips on the subject. With so much information to wade through, it can be tempting to look for a road map. But I have a hunch that parenting is not that prescriptive. 

One of the many lessons I’ve gained from the work that is being done at Barnard, and especially from the stories that appear in our Winter “Innovation” issue, is that oftentimes we need to evaluate the opinions, the data, the circumstances with fresh eyes. And that means being open to deviating from established norms in order to imagine, and even test out, new and likely better possibilities. It isn’t always easy to do, but it’s necessary — and, frankly, empowering. 

In this issue, we throw a spotlight on the many ways that the Barnard community is, as our writer Amanda Loudin puts it, “pushing the needle,” inside the classroom and beyond. You’ll read about how students, faculty, and staff are taking out-of-the-box approaches to learning and teaching; embarking on new, multidisciplinary research opportunities; and launching key mentorship programs to enhance the student experience. No two initiatives, methods, or programs are alike, but each one demonstrates the tangible benefits of thinking creatively, if not untraditionally. The result is a learning environment that is more collaborative, gutsy, and yes, innovative.

Beyond Barnard’s gates, our alumnae have been no less on the cutting edge. We profile Dr. Helene Gayle ’76, who is now serving as Spelman College’s 11th president after a prodigious career dedicated to social justice and public health. She speaks with us about her new role and what it means to lead a historically Black liberal arts college for women. And we feature Amy Brand ’85, the director and publisher at MIT Press, who has been hard at work piloting a new business model that provides the public with free access to scholarly books. Her entrepreneurial spirit has led her to spearhead a number of endeavors to bring more equity and inclusivity to publishing.

In these pages, whether you’re reading about a fledgling crossword constructor or Barnard’s sustainability-minded groundskeeper and horticulturist, you’ll find that they all have something in common: an ability to think independently. They aren’t hemmed in by rules or old ideologies. They move through this world with imagination. It’s a promising and inspiring outlook for the generations to come.

Latest IssueWinter 2024

Award-winning music producer Ebonie Smith ’07, museum curators on objects of interest, a dance course brings students to the stage, and more!