Principles & Practices, About | Earlham College
COVID-19 news, plans and updates | READ MORE
Skip to Content

Principles & Practices


Principles and Practices is a statement of the values that guide those of us who live and work at Earlham College and who form its communities: students, teaching and administrative faculty, and staff. College trustees, many alumni, and former employees of the College, feeling themselves still members of the community, may also choose to be guided by these principles.

Principles and Practices also provides the foundation for campus policies that apply to all members of the community. Policies and procedures specific to students, faculty, and staff may be found in the Student Handbook, Faculty Handbook, and Staff Handbook respectively. Through the workings of our regular governance procedures, detailed in the Governance Manual, we endeavor to make all College policies, rules, and procedures consonant with the principles articulated in this document.

Principles and Practices grows out of two questions that the community continually seeks to answer:

1. What sort of community do we aspire to be?

Earlham is an educational community, informed by the distinctive perspectives and values of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and aimed at providing the highest quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences. We strive to be a community of mutual support, responsibility, and accountability.

Our educational values, shaped by Quaker perspectives, are as follows: truth-seeking, wherever the evidence may lead; rigorous intellectual integrity; the nurturing of an open, cooperative learning environment; the recognition of the "teacher within"; the merit of lifelong learning habits. These values are rooted in a commitment to caring for the world we inhabit, improving human society, promoting global education, seeking peaceful and just transformation of conflicts, affirming the equality of all persons, and maintaining high ethical standards of personal conduct.

This document speaks of the Earlham community in terms of "we"; however, we recognize that this is not a homogenous "we." As an educational community, we are a changing group of diverse persons, bringing to this institution a variety of identities, as well as a great range of personal and cultural values, experiences, and perspectives. We are a community that deliberately welcomes persons of all religious faiths, all spiritual convictions, and those who have no religious affiliation or faith. We welcome this diversity, and the strength and transformations it makes possible.

2. What principles shape and sustain such a community?

Respect for persons, integrity, a commitment to peace and justice, simplicity, and community decision-making shape Earlham's community. Together these principles reflect Earlham's strong Quaker tradition. In acting according to these principles, we try to cultivate a community that values not only the development of broad knowledge and deep competencies, but an active, successful, and joyful engagement in human society and the world around us.

These principles inform our community, yet there is variation within the community in the ways these principles are put into practice. We welcome this variety of insight and interpretation and seek to learn from our differences. We acknowledge that practice of these principles may evolve with reflection by individuals and the community as a whole. By our daily actions, each of us contributes to the health and vitality of our community.

Principles, Practices and Queries

A Note on Ordering: The order of the principles is not meant to create a hierarchy or to give priority to any one principle. Each is important and they are interconnected. 

A Note on Queries: We borrow the use of Queries from Quaker tradition. Queries are meant as a means of self-examination or group examination, and inward reflection. Queries remind us that our actions are principled not because they conform to abstract rules, but because they are done thoughtfully and conscientiously. Queries take the shape of questions, but they do not have simple, uniform, unambiguous answers. 

Ppquote “Earlham's Principles and Practices are what make it a unique college. The atmosphere of the school is based on those principles — it makes the students and faculty into an Earlham family. I am thankful to be part of such a college where unique principles reign.”

Earlham Alum

Decoker -gary -2009“As a non-Quaker on the Principles and Practices review committee, I came to appreciate the inclusiveness of P&P. In an era when religion is often viewed as divisive and the cause of conflict, I was impressed by the way that P&P draws on Quaker values toward strengthening and guiding our community.”

Gary DeCoker
Retired Professor of Japanese Studies and Director of Japan Study
Print Friendly and PDF

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.