ABSTRACT

At Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, the undergraduate College and its curriculum have symbolic weight. Established in 1764 as the third institution of higher learning in New England, Brown (then the College of Rhode Island) was an open place from the start: it was the fi rst school in America to accept students regardless of their religious affi liation. Brown today includes a graduate school, a medical school and a school of engineering, but it continues to be known for its College and for the cohorts of creative, independent and entrepreneurial students who are drawn to its unique philosophy of undergraduate education. Some people call that philosophy the open curriculum. Others may refer to it as the new curriculum, recalling the moment in 1969 when the faculty and students joined together to rewrite their educational contract and create a new, more open climate of engaged and activist learning. Most people today, though, know it as the Brown curriculum, and for good reason. The spirit of reform written into its principles is now a tradition that defi nes the ethos of Brown as an institution.