L&T About the Program

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The Bard College Language & Thinking Program, founded in 1981, is an intensive introduction to the liberal arts and sciences with a particular focus on writing. It is attended by all incoming Bard students during the last three weeks of August. Students read extensively, work on a variety of projects in writing and other formats, and meet throughout the day in small groups and in one-on-one conferences with faculty. The work aims to cultivate habits of thoughtful reading, clear articulation, accurate self-critique, and productive collaboration. 

The creation of the Program was a response to the problem of inadequate literacy among students, first explored in A Nation at Risk, a 1983 report written by the National Commission on Excellence in Education. Bard College President, Leon Botstein, characterized entering students’ writing at the time as preoccupied with correctness at the expense of substance.

Botstein met Peter Elbow at a conference on “The Crisis of Authority in Education” at the Annenberg Center in the University of Southern California. Elbow, the author of Writing without Teachers and Writing without Teachers, argued for freeing students from their internal editor and developing writing practices that allowed students to put greater emphasis on invention, critical thinking, and discovering one’s own ideas. Inspired by Elbow’s boldness, Botstein invited Elbow to design the three-week, pre-semester Workshop in Language and Thinking, as it originally was called. 

Satisfactory completion of the Language and Thinking Program is required for matriculation into the College. Students who do not meet this requirement and wish to matriculate are given the option to take one year of academic leave and to enroll in the program again the following year.

For additional information, please contact the program at ltdirect@bard.edu.

Contact Us

Language and Thinking
Bard College, P.O. Box 5000
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504
ltdirect@bard.edu | 845-758-7141