Ecology, the study of the relationship among living organisms and the environment, is the foundation upon which Sterling's educational philosophy is built and the theoretical platform for a curriculum focused on environmental stewardship, the ethical production of healthy food, and the advocacy for both in the context of a civil society.
A Sterling education is deeply experiential in character. Study of the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences is based in observation and experience, with an emphasis on the natural world as the primary classroom, laboratory, and research setting. Whether offered in a seminar setting on campus or on the side of a mountain, classes at Sterling are small and foster deeper inquiry and closer relationships between faculty and students.
Sterling links intellectual growth and skill building to daily work responsibilities that encourage reflection on the relationship of the individual to the community. Throughout their tenure at Sterling, students are engaged in experiences that allow them to strengthen useful interpersonal skills that will help to instill life-long environmental stewardship.
Students participate in a core curriculum and elective choices in each area in the first two years of study, building toward an advanced study and a focused concentration that culminates in a final capstone research project. Like other liberal arts colleges, Sterling College offers a Bachelor of Arts degree and is exclusively focused on undergraduate education. Upon application students may identify the area of study in which they believe they wish to focus, or they may elect to remain undecided.
The Sterling curriculum demands commitment, physical, intellectual, and emotional, for problem solving in the ability of its graduates to:
Practice both critical and systems thinking;
Compile, assess, and use data to make decisions;
Communicate accurately and effectively in writing and in speech;
Understand historical and global contexts of current social issues;
Show leadership through active participation in the community;
Develop and appreciate creativity in work and problem solving.
Students may elect to follow a curricular path toward an area of study that is well established, or work in conjunction with a faculty advisor to integrate coursework from one of more resource areas to form a path that leads to an individualized area of study.