More About Our Curriculum
"Evergreen is a place for you to explore and pursue your academic interests. Your studies here will lead you to new discoveries, and our faculty and staff members will support you on this journey. You will find many advantages to our interdisciplinary curriculum and our emphasis on applying what you learn to real-world situations."—Thomas L. Purce, Ed.D., President
The Evergreen State College is designed for students who are curious about real life. A public, four-year liberal arts and sciences college located in the Pacific Northwest, Evergreen offers a dynamic curriculum that focuses on solving problems, themes and experiences in the world. The faculty is dedicated to teaching and working closely with students-in the classroom, the lab and in the field.
Evergreen students work with faculty to set their own academic goals, chart their progress, evaluate their achievements and shape their studies to explore specific areas of interest. When they graduate, Evergreen students understand how their studies relate to people, events and issues.
- Learning at Evergreen
- Designing Your Education
- Research and Field Work
- Study Abroad
- Narrative Evaluations and Your Academic Statement
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Instead of taking four or five separate, unrelated classes each quarter, you'll take one program that unifies these classes around a central theme, taught by two or three faculty from different academic disciplines. Since you do all of your academic work in one program, your faculty team will know how much work is being assigned to you, so there's no possibility of two tests on the same day or having to choose between a field trip and a conflicting class. This interdisciplinary approach sets learning at Evergreen apart from other colleges.
Many Evergreen programs continue for two or three consecutive quarters. This allows you to build specific skills to produce highly sophisticated work, even in introductory offerings. You'll work most often in small groups with your faculty, beginning your freshman year.
At Evergreen, you'll be encouraged to voice your opinion. Your background, ethnicity, social class and preferred lifestyle will add to the multicultural perspectives here. You will find that attention to diversity, in the broadest sense, runs throughout the curriculum.
Because your learning is too important to be reduced to an arbitrary number or letter grade, you'll receive narrative evaluations from your faculty. Faculty will detail your accomplishments, list subject areas you studied and assign the credits you earn toward your bachelor's degree. Narrative evaluations give graduate schools and employers a comprehensive picture of your undergraduate education.
Your education at Evergreen is distinctive. When you work with your faculty and an academic advisor, you develop an educational plan that fits your needs, interests and future goals. You have the entire curriculum from which you may make your academic selections and you aren't limited to fulfilling graduation unit requirements. You may also include independent research or study abroad to augment your learning.
Graduation requires that you must earn 180 credits. Typically, 45 credits will be in a broad coordinated studies program-like those programs offered to freshmen. Your sophomore year may be more focused and you may select a program from a specific fields of study. During your junior year at Evergreen, you will mostly likely select an advanced program. Finally, during your senior year you may select another advanced program or conduct independent research or participate in an internship. It is during your junior and senior years that you will also earn upper division credit.
Whether you are destined for graduate school or if your educational goal is career-oriented, it's always best to seek assistance from your faculty, from the Academic Advising counselors and from the Career Development specialists. Reviewing The Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate with an academic advisor will also assist you in designing your education.
Evergreen students put their classroom experience into action. Undergraduate students regularly get involved with faculty research projects and creative efforts, providing a wide range of opportunities usually reserved for graduate study. You will find that field studies are embedded in the Programs for Freshmen as well as in intermediate and advance level programs.
Studying and learning in the field is central to every Evergreen program, not just science programs. Faculty and students regularly leave the classroom to explore the environment and build their knowledge of communities, cultures and issues. These are examples of research and field studies:
- Advanced Field and Laboratory Biology in Southwestern Ecosystems
- Climate Solutions
- Undergraduate Research in Scientific Inquiry with Clyde Barlow
- Understanding Language
- Landscapes of Faith and Power in the Eastern Mediterranean
- Native Decolonization in the Pacific Rim: From the Northwest to New Zealand
- The Spanish-Speaking World: Cultural Crossings
All of these programs offer a travel component. You will be expected to speak the language as well as develop your study objectives prior to travel.
Students may also opt to travel independently without faculty and college peers. In this case, you will need to define your study objectives and contract with a faculty member before you leave on your journey. You are advised to prepare well in advance of your trip. Academic Advising offers assistance to students who wish to study abroad.
"Letter grades are meaningless-is a 'B' good or bad? Did an 'A' student slip or a 'C' student stretch? Evaluations are especially valuable to graduate schools because they specifically address the student's ability to carry out independent research and describe how well they perform the practical, hands-on side of their subject." —Nancy Murray, Ph.D., Neurobiology
Your learning is more important than a letter grade.
At the end of every quarter you will meet with your faculty member to discuss your progress one-on-one. Did you meet the academic expectations and learning objectives? Did you attend lectures and participate in class discussions? Did you take the initiative to conduct additional research? Were you able to integrate lectures, reading and lab assignments and demonstrate this learning in the writing assignments? What are your academic goals for future studies?
Evergreen's noncompetitive atmosphere fosters collaboration and allows students to truly reflect on what they have learned. Faculty will prepare written comments for the evaluation discussion, and students will also deliberate on their achievements. At the end of the program, your learning culminates in the Faculty Evaluation of Student Achievement (PDF). This evaluation is your Evergreen transcript.
"Evaluations are one more piece of teaching. They can also be a wake-up call. The conference around the evaluation is very powerful, getting to talk to students about their progress." —Lisa Sweet, M.F.A., Printmaking
A Narrative Evaluation is Not Pass/Fail
The evaluation documents your achievements. The faculty member may describe your achievements as superlative, or as mediocre, or as needing marked improvement. And because you may expect one- to two-pages of comments, this transcript is most certainly not at all like receiving a 'P' or an 'F.' For students who do not complete assignments or miss lectures and seminars, the faculty member may determine that a reduction in credit is necessary and will include comments to this effect.
"I can look back and see my academic path, the projects and readings I've undertaken all year. Evaluations help me to understand myself and my learning, and to clarify what I want to do." —Heidi Haberbush, senior, Cheney, Washington
Evergreen Takes a Stand on Narrative Evaluations
The entire learning community-the faculty and staff, who are dedicated to your academic success and growth, and students, your peers who are likewise committed to collaborative learning-support narrative evaluations as an integral of your educational experience. Therefore, narrative evaluations are not translated into a letter or numerical grades. Faculty and staff assist graduate school admission committees or future employers who may not be familiar with narrative evaluations. And, you are preceded by over thirty years of Evergreen alumni who are successfully employed or who have attended graduate or professional schools all over the world.
"The whole year of work has been a process and a grade wouldn't reflect the progress I made. I'd like an employer to read my evals, so I could be hired on what I've learned and the ability to apply what I know." —Josh Giuntoli, junior, Walla Walla, Washington
"Good evaluations are like having 20 letters of recommendation." —Trish Towanda, senior, Colorado
Your Academic Statement
Your transcripts will include your academic statement. You will write an Academic Statement about your Evergreen education and revise this statement annually with support from the faculty that you're currently working with. You will decide how best to document how you are earning a bachelor's degree from The Evergreen State College. The final version must be submitted to the College as a condition of graduation, and this statement becomes the cover page of your official Evergreen transcript where it will introduce your undergraduate career to an outside audience.
The Academic Statement will enable you to critically reflect on and assess your decisions, experiences, and accomplishments at Evergreen. This ongoing work of critical reflection and assessment is meant to foster thoughtful work that will help you better develop creative and fruitful academic pathways, and write a compelling Statement. Nancy Koppelman, Project Director for the Academic Statement and Member of the Faculty, narrates this short video on the power of the Academic Statement.
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