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Our Quaker Ethos

Earlham College was founded by members of the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. Today, our students, faculty and staff come from many faiths and no faith, and between ten and fifteen percent identify as Quaker. Our Quaker roots and values continue to shape the ways we live and learn as a community inclusive of all faiths and identities.

“The Quaker ethos at Earlham is pervasive. On good days, people see it. Most days, we just live it.”

Nelson Bingham
Professor emeritus of psychology
Special adviser to the College

The spirit of the classroom

Academics at Earlham are different—ask any student or graduate. In the classroom, students find themselves on a first-name basis with their professors, who approach teaching and learning as an intensely collaborative undertaking.

Silent reflection, or stillness, is built into various aspects of life at Earlham, including academics. Listening and mutual learning are highly valued in Earlham’s classrooms. We believe that education should be a process of awakening the “teacher within,” and that every person brings unique and valuable knowledge and perspectives to the table. Professors and students alike strive to be lifelong learners.

This mutual trust and respect for one another as both teachers and learners often extends to exams. It’s common for Earlham professors to leave the room during an exam, trusting that a proctor is not needed.

The spirit of faculty meeting

Faculty meeting at Earlham is yet another place where it’s easy to see our Quaker values in action. Both teaching and administrative faculty participate in meeting, as we are of the belief that we are all educators. Our interactions with students and one another are continuous opportunities for teaching and learning.

When held in-person, faculty meeting takes place in Stout Meetinghouse, a Quaker meetinghouse located on the Earlham campus. (Stout is also home to Clear Creek Friends Meeting, College Meeting for Worship and Trueblood Preschool.) During the Covid-19 pandemic, faculty meeting has taken place via Zoom, with various measures taken to retain the consensus-based decision-making processes that reflect Quaker practices.

The spirit of student life

Student life at Earlham reflects many Quaker principles. Earlham students are highly engaged in activism, social justice and global concerns. They are also involved in governance of the College to a degree that is unique among most institutions of higher education. Student representatives serve on almost all of the College’s standing committees.

Earlham’s faculty and staff strive to treat students with respect and assume good intentions. We seek out their voices on a variety of topics and College concerns, help them understand College practices and policies (and why they exist), and encourage their potential to improve the world.

Quaker programs and resources

Newlin Quaker Center

The Newlin Quaker Center on Earlham’s campus aims to promote conversation and cooperation among Friends and to provide a gathering place for Friends of all sorts.

Quaker Fellows Program

The Quaker Fellows Program is a community-centered scholarship program for undergraduate students interested in exploring spirituality, community and leadership through a Quaker lens.

Earlham School of Religion

As the first Quaker seminary in the world, Earlham School of Religion serves a critical function for Friends Meetings around the globe by providing a theological education based on Quaker values.

Principles and Practices

Earlham’s Principles and Practices are the set of values that guide those of us who live, work, teach and learn in this community. They also provide the foundation for campus policies that apply to all members of the community, as well as our governance structure. 

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.