Academics

Johnston 101

Johnston students at Bekins Hall

At the Johnston Center, each student collaborates with faculty, staff and peers to shape a unique undergraduate education. Through the course contracting process and the graduation contract, Johnston students craft their studies through an emphasis, liberal arts breadth and a cross-cultural experience.

While no student’s experience is the same as any other, there are several components to a Johnston education:

Class Contracts

Johnston students negotiate class contracts with their professors and receive narrative evaluations instead of standard grades. A class contract is an opportunity to work closely with faculty members to shape course-work in a way that meets individual learning goals.

The Graduation Contract 

With the guidance of an advisor, each Johnston student writes a Graduation Contract in the sophomore year and passes that contract through a committee of faculty, staff and other students. Graduation Contracts reflect the academic and personal passions of the student. They include Johnston seminars, classes from across the College of Arts and Sciences and a cross-cultural experience. Students often contract to complete internships, activist projects and experiential learning into their undergraduate education as well.

The Graduation Review 

In addition to the larger college and Johnston graduations, each Johnston student has an individual graduation. When a Johnston student completes the work of the Graduation Contract, we have a meeting with faculty, students, staff – and often families – to publicly acknowledge the work of that student. Graduation Reviews are a great community ritual at Johnston!

Recent Graduation Contract Titles have included:

  • Film, Aesthetics, and Gender Studies

  • Immigration and Foreign Language

  • Neuroscience: The Mind of Biochemistry and Psychology

  • Cultivating My Literary Garden

  • Community Organizing and Creative Social Change

  • The Poetics of Transformation: Creative Writing, Religion, and Social Justice

  • International Studies and Human Rights

  • Human Ecology and Interdisciplinary Food Studies

  • Art and Consumerism

  • Existential Business and Art

  • Middle East Social Justice and Peace Studies

  • The Cranky Tinker: Getting’ Radical

  • Pulling the Puzzle Apart with Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science

  • The Art of Reading: When Literature Becomes Philosophy


Do you know the Och Tamale?
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The non-sensical Och Tamale chant was originally titled the "Psalm of Collegiate Thanksgiving."

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