Statement of WISR’s Purpose and Philosophy of Learning
WISR’s programs are designed to provide community-involved adults with high-quality learning opportunities, combining academic theory and research with experience-based knowledge and insights, to help people develop satisfying personal careers while providing leadership toward educational innovation, community improvement and constructive social change.
Higher education should help community-involved adults become aware of their intellectual strengths, of what they already know and can do, by thinking, talking, and writing about those strengths, and applying them to problems that the students are personally concerned about. Higher education should help adults assess their personal goals, and the kinds of further learning that they need to pursue those goals and attain them. All students should be encouraged to stretch themselves, to become broadly acquainted with fields of knowledge and intellectual methods that are relevant to their areas of interest.
We believe that facts and methods of analyzing are best learned as parts of a broad, developmental approach to knowing, as a natural, dynamic process that all of us engage in throughout our lives. Critical inquiry can be a focal process in the education and self-development of community- involved adults.
We believe that all learners’ intellectual interests are ethically and politically informed, and that these aspects of knowledge should be openly and hospitably explored in the educational process.
Intercultural understanding and multicultural learning experiences are important to adult learning in today’s world, especially between members of different genders, economic classes, and ethnic and racial groups. Every student should understand how the most basic facts and ideas that we know are shaped by our individual experiences and the group cultures in which we take part.
We believe that adults learn best when their study is closely connected to their own personal and group interests, and connected as well with work in which they are actively engaged. We believe students should be encouraged and supported in doing work that contributes not only to their own advancement, but also to the improvement of their communities, and to long-term social change for the benefit of all peoples.
We believe it is important to consciously and continually help students to design learning activities—action projects, research, and writings—that help to build bridges to the student’s desired career path.
We believe it is important to offer advanced studies for learners who aim to develop, or further develop, expert knowledge and skills–and to provide high quality education to learners pursuing many different types of future goals, including but not limited to: changing careers, pursuing advancement in one’s existing career, becoming more capable and more meaningfully engaged in one’s existing job or career niche, or making contributions to others and to the larger community as an unpaid expert drawing on one’ professional knowledge, skill and talents.
We believe that people should not have their visions limited by the definitions of existing jobs and careers, and that they can and should be enabled to be both visionary and realistic in pursuing a life path that makes sense to them.
At WISR, we are committed to engaging in learning processes with our students that will enable them to become effective, expert professionals, and who are effective as professionals because they are also engaged citizens and community leaders, able to live personally meaningful and fulfilling lives. This means developing professionals who have a vision for both using the knowledge of their professions, while also going beyond the limitations and blind spots of their professions, to work for a better tomorrow for everyone.