Academic Life

Earlham strives to create an intentional community that is congruent with its long term goals as an educational institution. This section contains some of the grounding documents that guide and shape the development of Earlham’s community and principles.

Earlham is a residential liberal arts college that offers an outstanding undergraduate educational experience. Our students study and transform their lives in a challenging and stimulating environment.

The liberal arts experience involves exposure to a variety of ways of knowing and understanding the world. These differ in discipline (e.g., history is distinct from languages) as well as in methodology (e.g., mathematics is distinct from philosophy, studio art is distinct from chemistry). Some students may be more or less certain when they come to Earlham about what they want to study and what they want to focus upon as their majors. Many Earlham students discover new disciplines, new questions, and new approaches in the course of an academic career.

As students advance through their academic career, the information in this section will help direct them to opportunities and resources to support and encourage their explorations and success.

One of the central dimensions of an Earlham education involves an outstanding classroom experience. In small classes students have an opportunity for meaningful personal interaction with both faculty and peers.

Outside of the classroom students experience communities near and far. From Richmond, Indiana, to Dakar, Senegal, from New York to New Zealand, from El Paso, Texas, to Tokyo, Japan. In their experiential education students apply classroom knowledge to “real world” contexts.

An Earlham education is international. Not only do the vast majority of our students participate in at least one program in another country, but a substantial number of our students study abroad more than once. Off-campus travel emphasizes experiencing different languages and cultures, seeing oneself as “the other,” and learning to question assumptions.

An Earlham education is collaborative. Earlham ranks in the very top group of all institutions of higher education in the United States — major research universities as well as small liberal arts colleges — in the proportion of our students who go on to earn a Ph.D. Earlham students have the opportunity to do hands-on research alongside their professors and this propels them to leading graduate schools.

Finally, an Earlham education involves the critical task of learning to know oneself and using such self-understanding as a foundation for making choices in one’s life that will build a better world through understanding, flexibility, adaptability and appreciation.

The College trusts students at Earlham to be honest seekers of truth and knowledge. This trust is extended to all students by other students and teachers, and is evidenced in a variety of forms. Exams are rarely proctored. Unlike many colleges and universities, Earlham does not ask students to sign an oath affirming that they did not cheat on an assignment, since this would imply that people are either inherently dishonest, or that they will be honest only when they explicitly swear to it.

Students must be mindful that, although Earlham encourages cooperative and collaborative modes of learning, one’s work must still be one’s own, unless explicitly assigned to a group. Giving or receiving aid inappropriately on assignments and tests, or plagiarizing by using another person’s words or ideas as one’s own, without credit, constitutes a serious breach of our trust in one another.

Those who believe they have witnessed violations of academic integrity should feel the obligation to speak about this to the student(s). The witness should also feel obligated to report the student(s) to the instructor if the person refuses to report him or herself.

Students should carefully read the syllabus they receive for each course to fully understand each professor’s expectations about the appropriate use of materials and about working on assignments with other students.

Violations of academic integrity are taken very seriously because they undermine our trust in one another and the credibility of the academic enterprise. Penalties for violations range from failing assignments or tests to suspension or expulsion from the College. Students who are suspended as a result of an academic violation may not transfer academic credits to Earlham during the suspension.

At matriculation, every student is assigned an academic adviser who will help the student plan his or her course of study while at Earlham. It should be noted that while academic advisers assist students in this way, the responsibility for meeting all graduation requirements rests finally with the student. Once a student is ready to declare a major, he or she should arrange to have an academic adviser within that field or department. Forms for changing academic advisers are available from the Registrar’s Office. Students and advisers receive an Academic Audit at the beginning of each academic year, outlining outstanding General Education and credit requirements for degree completion.

At matriculation, every student is assigned an academic adviser who will help the student plan his or her course of study while at Earlham. It should be noted that while academic advisers assist students in this way, the responsibility for meeting all graduation requirements rests finally with the student. Once a student is ready to declare a major, he or she should arrange to have an academic adviser within that field or department. Forms for changing academic advisers are available from the Registrar’s Office Students and advisers may review degree progress on Self-Service and Degree Works at any time as these audits are always accurate. Audits are a reflection of completed and in-progress academic work.

The Academic Enrichment Center (AEC) aids students with their learning through peer-to-peer tutoring. Peer tutors integrate study strategies into their tutoring sessions to encourage students to become more effective independent learners. Peer tutors are available for one-on-one tutoring sessions or for pre-arranged group sessions. Peer tutoring is a free service for Earlham College students.

Students who want to discover their learning style and working habits or who want to explore why they are experiencing some learning challenges may make an appointment with the AEC director. The director also assists students with study skills and time management.

Students may appeal grades and evaluations on procedural grounds. That is, they may question whether the grade was awarded fairly, according to clear standards, and in a manner consistent with Earlham’s stated practices, such that, a grade may not be appealed simply on grounds of disagreement of the instructor’s evaluation. An appeal should begin with a conversation between student and instructor. If this discussion leads to no agreement, the student, possibly along with her or his adviser, should contact one of the Deans in Academic Affairs. The Senior Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, the Associate Academic Dean or Registrar may advise the student on the merits of the case and shall, at the request of the student, mediate between student and instructor. This mediation must occur within one semester after completion of the course. A meeting of all parties or separate meetings of the Dean with each party may be arranged. Sometimes the Dean from Academic Affairs may recuse her/himself and refer the case to another dean within the academic administration.

If this mediation does not lead to a result agreeable to the parties, either or both may request a mediation hearing before an ad hoc Academic Mediation Board. A Dean from Academic Affairs (or her/his designee) shall convene a board, comprising two faculty members and two students. The Dean shall choose two faculty members and invite the student members from a short list selected from the Student Judicial Council. Either the student appellant or the faculty member whose grade is being appealed may reject nominations to the Board. Board hearings shall be recorded during the presentation and discussion of evidence with all parties present. The Board shall meet in executive session for deliberation.

The Mediation Board will review the documents of the case and listen to both parties. It then meets by itself and frames a recommendation. The Board shall consider itself charged to act equitably and in the interest of both parties as it seeks to determine if grading procedures were somehow faulty and if a remedy is feasible. By Earlham’s bylaws, grading is in the province of the faculty, and a Board’s recommendations may not force an instructor to change a grade.

If the Board finds itself unable to reach a consensus, or if either party is unwilling to accept the recommendation of the Board or the other party’s response to it, then the convening Dean shall confer with the Academic Dean and the Clerk of the Faculty to devise a way forward.

If the faculty member is no longer at the College, a Dean from Academic Affairs will consult with the department convener to review work and work toward a resolution.

Students can change academic advisers when they have decided upon a major or determine a faculty member with whom they are excited to work as they advance through their academic career.

The Academic Enrichment Center (AEC) is the College’s disability services office, with the Director serving as the 504 Coordinator for students with disabilities. While the College does not provide a comprehensive disability program, it is committed to equal opportunities for students with disabilities through a supportive academic and social environment. Faculty and students work together in partnership to determine students’ needs and attempt to see that those needs are met.

AEC coordinates the delivery of accommodations for students with disabilities. The Center manages the documentation of disabilities, processing accommodation requests, and the hiring of note-takers and other persons or services as needed. Students can initiate the accommodation process by submitting Earlham’s Disability Disclosure Form.

Academic accommodations and auxiliary aids may include (but are not limited to):

  • providing note-takers and computer assistance
  • assistance in obtaining books on tape
  • extended time for exams and quizzes and/or assistance via computer technology
  • a testing environment with limited distractions
  • the substitution of appropriate courses for the second language requirement.

Technological assistance available from the Academic Enrichment Center includes:

  • Kurzweil 1000 and 3000: scan/read software
  • Limited Braille text with Duxbury Software and Braille embosser
  • Tactile Image Enhancer
  • Livescribe Pen: technology for note-taking

For a full description of Earlham’s policy on accommodation for students with disabilities read the Students with Disabilities (PDF).

Students should contact the AEC director to obtain disability status, 
to request disability accommodations or to initiate a grievance.

The mission of the Quantitative Reasoning Center is to be a prominent resource for both faculty and students to achieve quantitative literacy across the curriculum. The QR Center follows the lead of the Academic Enrichment Center to aide and enhance the broad range of quantitative skills necessary for all Earlham College students to be successful both in the classroom and society. For more information, visit the Quantitative Reasoning Center’s website.

The Writing Center supports students and faculty with every aspect of writing across the curriculum. Regardless of the type of writing task, whether it’s an Earlham Seminar exploratory essay, a science lab report or a senior thesis, the Writing Center offers a comfortable space where student writers of all levels of experience can discover ways to improve their writing. Not just for those struggling with a problematic paper, the Writing Center is a place to come for clarifying and polishing techniques that make your writing really shine.

Peer writing consultants are available Sunday through Thursday evenings on the main level of Lilly Library to help students at any stage of the writing process, from brainstorming about a topic and refining a thesis statement to organizing and editing a final draft. You can simply drop in or you can sign up for an appointment on the Writing Center website.

The Writing Center website continues to expand its online help with tips for revising as well as links to resources on grammar and research issues. In addition, the Writing Center offers faculty workshops and forums on approaches to teaching and assessing writing. Faculty may also request a writing consultant to visit classes to present various brainstorming or peer review techniques.

Some Common Misconceptions about Writing Consultants
Writing consultants are just proofreaders.

Writing consultants help you learn how to proofread yourself, and work on a lot of other concerns with writing papers besides proofreading, like organization and clarity.

Consulting sessions take a lot of time.

Sessions take between 25 and 50 minutes, and much of that time is actually saving you time working on your paper on your own.

My paper has to be finished before I can get help.

You can drop in to the center even without an appointment, though we strongly encourage you to sign up in advance. Consultants can help you at any point in the writing process, from brainstorming and organizing your ideas through the final draft.

Tutoring is for poor writers only.

Nonsense. The most skilled writers share their drafts with other writers and revise according to the feedback they receive. Discussing a paper with an experienced peer is a great way to make sure your writing communicates your ideas clearly.

For more details, including locations and times the Writing Center is open, please visit the Writing Center website.

Earlham College enters into a relationship with each student with the conviction that the College provides the best environment for pursuing life goals.

Strategies for Enhancing Student Success

Early Alert: The Vice President of Student Life oversees the Early Alert team. The Early Alert group coordinates College intervention efforts for those students who might benefit from specific College resources as they seek success at Earlham. Such identification may come through contacts with College personnel (faculty, academic advisers, residence life staff, coaches, etc.), student peers (friends, roommates, teammates), through others at the College, or through concerned family members. In each case, an effort is made to utilize College resources and to engage with students as fully as possible as they work toward success at Earlham. All members of Early Alert can be reached by sending an email outlining the concern to [email protected].

Next steps

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.