Mission Statement

Fairhaven College cultivates critical consciousness through transformative, creative, inquiry-based learning to empower students to pursue social, economic, and environmental justice.  Our students practice accountability and leadership in their quest for critical interdisciplinary understanding by developing their own areas of study.


Our collaborative learning community is defined by five attributes:

(1) Interdisciplinary inquiry, creativity, and scholarship

(2) Student-designed studies and evaluation of learning

(3) Examination of power and privilege in a diverse society

(4) Development of leadership and social responsibility

(5) Active, innovative, and experiential learning through small seminars and independent study


Interdisciplinary Curriculum:

Fairhaven's interdisciplinary curriculum is centered on the process of inquiry as well as on the development of knowledge. Courses and experiences are designed to introduce and encourage students to:

  • Think using strategies from various disciplines and areas of study, and application of these thinking and problem solving skills to larger issues and questions.
  • Learn on their own and move from the skills of critiquing and interpreting knowledge to constructing knowledge. Listen carefully and engage respectfully in discussion, and to value and respect different worldviews, and appreciate multiple voices reflecting the diversity of experience in our society.
  • Communicate clearly in various modes and to value modes effective in other cultures.
  • Develop curiosity about and tolerance for diverse ideas and values, and the ability to engage in dialogue about controversial issues.
  • Learn to recognize that maintaining healthy diversity is essential for all living systems--ecological, cultural, ideological, genetic--to provide flexibility and adaptability.


Student-designed studies and evaluation of learning:

  • Students are encouraged to design an interdisciplinary concentration integrating the contributions of several disciplines to a central problem, issue, or theme, or to choose a major in another college.
  • Seminar formats encourage collaborative assignments and enhance active student participation.
  • Narrative assessments, including a student self-evaluation and written responses from faculty, foster the process of motivating students to develop their own goals for learning.


Examination of issues arising from a diverse society:

  • Cultural pluralism is an important part of Fairhaven's curricular focus. A positive learning environment embraces difference. We recognize that survival requires diversity -that difference is essential, and is in the best interest of the planet.
  • Courses and other learning experiences provide an examination of the impacts and contemporary and historical roots of race, class and gender relations.
  • Social issues such as homophobia, ageism, and internalized oppression are examined along with strategies for conflict resolution.


Development of leadership and a sense of social responsibility:

  • Courses and experiences encourage students to practice and assume leadership roles, and to challenge leaders responsibly and intelligently.
  • Students will be encouraged to find their connection with the world, to understand relationships of thought and action, theory and experience, to cultivate opportunities to apply what they learn, and to develop a strong sense of themselves as individuals in a community, including the benefits and responsibilities that come from membership in it.


Curricular, instructional and evaluative innovation:

  • The college seeks to help students learn in a collaborative and noncompetitive way, examining the new and different while avoiding new dogmas and conformities.
  • The college assumes a responsibility to provide leadership for Western Washington University in diversifying the curriculum, faculty, and student body, as well as demonstrating models for alternative curricular forms and course structures.
  • Fairhaven's programs offer alternatives for students seeking more responsibility for their educations.
  • Fairhaven's curriculum seeks to help students develop a strong sense of history and its importance in understanding the present, and the desire and ability to define connections between social phenomena.
  • Courses and experiences should help students become aware of connections and encourage them to act in relation to their interdependence with all around them.
  • The curriculum seeks to help students develop an intimate knowledge of the physical world and effects of science and society on it, and an ability to use these tools to resolve human and environmental issues.
  • The curriculum seeks to help students develop an appreciation for and experience with literature, the arts, and movement, and an exploration of these as modes of expression and communication in the worlds of ideas and social action.