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WISR’s Distinctive Methods


A number of things about WISR, and its ways of helping people learn, fit together to make it a very special place.

WISR is for community-involved adults.  WISR’s students are strongly motivated, mature people who are actively engaged in the work of the communities where they live, as well as in their own personal growth.

WISR combines theory and practice.   WISR demonstrates that high-quality academic study and full-time work on community problems can go together — that each, in fact, enriches the other.  All students do active reading, writing, thinking, and discussing while they continue wrestling with  specific, practical problems in their work, with the guidance and support of faculty and their fellow students.

WISR is intensive and individual.   Learning at WISR starts with a look at one’s past experiences, personal goals, individual strengths and needs for acquiring new skills and knowledge.  Each student builds a personal learning plan and works with faculty, other students, and community resource people, on the problems s/he deeply cares about.

WISR is a small, multicultural learning community.   WISR is designed as a living experiment in co-operation among people of different races, cultures, and personal backgrounds.  People know each other personally, procedures are human-scaled, and every person makes a difference.  Active collaboration with others, not competition and distance, lend richness and interest to each person’s learning process.

WISR is inquiry-oriented.   Learning at WISR builds on the excitement of actively doing your own re-search, seeing what can be done without fancy statistics, and developing skills of “action research” that are useful in your daily work life.  Students learn how to bring data-gathering, analysis, and the best of scientific reasoning into the work of community agencies.

WISR focuses on professional education that promotes career development, along with community and civic engagement, and personal development and lifelong learning. Professional knowledge and expertise are developed with a mindfulness of issues of social justice, quality of life, and personal values and purposes.

WISR is dedicated to social change. WISR students and faculty are people committed to changing today’s oppressive patterns of race and gender relations, of wealth and poverty, of extreme power and powerlessness, in peaceful and constructive ways.

WISR helps students build bridges to the next important things they want to do in their lives.  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 and life paths.

Not many universities or colleges combine these kinds of commitments and ways of learning and teaching.  The founders of WISR were people who had worked in other “innovative” colleges, and who got together to fill some gaps they saw being left open, even by the most worthwhile attempts to create innovative educational programs.  The result after 40 years is a vital, changing, and deeply involved group of people who are helping each other to operate a living laboratory for multicultural education and social change.

We invite you to join us!

 WISR Collage