Intellectual Philosophy

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The unique contributions of the College’s different programs enhance our ability to respond to the diverse and complex needs of the people we serve, but our collective efforts are grounded in an overarching belief system that articulates what we understand and value about learning and ways to support learning. We view the following tenets about learning as fundamental to the development of all individuals; we hold the tenets about the support of learning as basic to the practices of all educational and human services professionals.  Our philosophy integrates multiple theories and approaches to learning; it is consistent with the philosophical underpinnings of institutional, state, and professional standards.

Learning is active and personal . . .

  • It proceeds from the vantage point of the learner in that it is filtered through an individual’s prior knowledge, experiences, and beliefs as well as the individual’s physical, social, emotional, moral, and cognitive development; builds on, extends, integrates, and transforms what is known and believed.
  • It includes learning content and learning to reason about content (e.g., inquiry, problem solving, critical analysis, synthesis, and evaluation).
  • It involves taking risks by exploring new questions, new solutions, and new perspectives.

Learning is collaborative and social . . .

  • It is influenced by conversations with others and the degree to which these conversations promote open-mindedness, reasoned thinking, and active engagement of all members.
  • It is grounded in learning communities seeking to better understand and respect the complexity and diversity of the world and solving practical problems through sharing, valuing, and exploring different perspectives.
  • It is governed by responsible and ethical actions that demonstrate social responsibility, promote dignity of all people, and protect the integrity of the learning process.

Learning is ever-evolving . . .

  • It progresses toward more complex and integrated conceptualizations including relationships among concepts and multiple perspectives.
  • It progresses toward more creative and reasoned uses of knowledge including identifying and solving problems as well as generating new knowledge.
  • It progresses toward greater discernment of thought including development of ethical and moral reasoning; understanding of how personal experiences influence what is known and believed; and recognition of bias, illogical arguments, over generalizations, and unjustified conclusions.

Learning is supported when . . .

  • Learning communities are safe, stimulating, and enriched with diversity.
  • Professionals facilitate collaborations that ensure dignity of all by advocating for and embracing the rights and responsibilities of individuals as well as groups.
  • Feature high levels of thinking and thoughtful exploration of informed ideas, and draw on the rich resources of diverse people and value the reciprocal nature of learning.
  • Decisions about teaching and other professional practices are reasoned and purposeful.
  • Professionals match what is being learned with appropriate, evidence-based approaches to learning (e.g., thoughtful selection of materials, instructional strategies, experiences, and assessments).
  • Professionals consider how to help individuals understand content and engage in high levels of thinking as they reason about content.
  • Professionals provide learning opportunities that promote physical, social, emotional, moral, and cognitive development.

Teaching and other professional practices are enacted in proactive, flexible, and self- regulating ways when . . .

  • Professionals draw on in-depth content, pedagogical content, and professional knowledge in thoughtful, integrated, and creative ways.
  • Professionals vary roles such as informing, modeling, probing, facilitating, and coaching to foster thoughtfulness and independence.
  • Professionals monitor the effects of their professional practices on all individuals and make adjustments as needed.


The unifying purpose across all departments and programs in the College is the development of competent, committed, and reflective professionals–professionals who have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to activate the transformative, inclusive, collaborative, and technological aspects of the College’s mission and its intellectual philosophy. Our mission and our philosophy provide the grounding for how we define the key characteristics that we aim to develop in our program candidates and strive to model in our own work.


Competent professionals demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to facilitate the learning of the individuals they serve. Their competence enables them to model and promote active, collaborative, and ongoing learning. Their efforts are enhanced by their abilities to foster learning communities that are safe, stimulating, and enriched with diversity; engage in reasoned and purposeful decision making; and implement their professional practices in proactive, flexible, and self-regulating ways. We recognize that the development of professional competence is linked to levels of preparation and experience. We also acknowledge that competence continues to develop over the course of an entire career.


Committed professionals make reasoned decisions based on thoughtfully- constructed values. As a College, we strive to nurture values that support the learning of all people, honor diversity, protect the integrity of learning, and expand the scholarship of our professions. We view these values as professional dispositions, and we define them as filters for responsible decision making. Our College emphasizes the conscious development of commitments related to professional responsibilities and ethics, collaboration, diversity, and intellectual vitality.


We choose to frame reflection as a critical and pervasive habit of mind that permeates and fuels the ongoing expansion of competence and the continued development of reasoned commitments. Reflective professionals subject their own competencies and commitments to continuous scrutiny as they systematically monitor the impact of their professional practices on the individuals they serve and make adjustments as needed. Thoughtful reflection emphasizes reviewing and analyzing past practices in ways that influence and improve future practices. This stance inspires self-initiated professional growth and results in increased capacities for addressing the complexities and dilemmas situated within the work of educational and human services professionals.