A Strategic Direction for the Future

We are working together as a community to build a vision for Carleton’s future that is comprehensive, generative, and exciting. Together, we will define and pursue the transformative change we seek, assess external trends that may impact Carleton, and focus our energies and purpose. The resulting strategic direction, which has three central themes, will be infused into our structures and governance processes so that implementation becomes an organic and intentional part of how we operate in the future.


Theme I: Building a Community of Belonging

What does an equitable community look like? What are the attributes of a community where everyone feels a sense of belonging and ownership?

Framing Questions: Carleton for Every Carl

What barriers do we see to the kind of community we want?

In light of the disruptions we have undergone, the evidence of student learning loss resulting from the pandemic, and the current crisis in student mental health, what changes in our advising structures, our student support systems, and in the relationships students build on campus can help to ensure that every student gets the support they need to flourish?

How do we balance key aspects of Carleton culture such as the deep commitment to students, the dedication to excellence, and the reliance on collaborative involvement and shared governance, with the need to ensure a reasonable, rewarding and generative work culture for faculty and staff?

Theme II: Advancing the Liberal Arts

What does a robust, 21st Century liberal arts education look like? What do today’s students need to know and to learn? What can a liberal arts education empower them to become and to do?

Framing Questions: An Education for Life

What will bring students to Carleton 15 years from now? What will distinguish Carleton not just from liberal arts college peers, but also from private universities, state universities and even non-degree granting certification programs?

Do our current enrollment patterns across a student’s four years suggest that students are getting a well-rounded liberal arts education? Do our current degree requirements ensure appropriate breadth and balance? What current or emerging interdisciplinary fields are in need of greater attention and support?

Carleton’s strong sense of place informs the curriculum in a number of ways, and provides opportunities for experiential learning in the Arb, in Northfield, and in the Twin Cities. Are there other ways and places to expand these kinds of connections?

How might instructional technology complement, supplement, or change classroom pedagogy for the better?

How might AI, data analytics, or increasing automation of education-related processes change the nature of faculty and staff work, or faculty expectations of students?

How can Carleton’s reputation for excellent undergraduate teaching and student research be a more prominent point of distinction?

How can we offer stronger support for, and increase the visibility of, faculty research?

What campus wide efforts can help give students and families an understanding of the range of postgraduate opportunities opened up by a liberal arts education in any major?

Theme III: Expanding Carleton’s Reach

At a time when support for education, and respect for expertise, is in question, what role can the liberal arts college play in conveying the importance of the kind of education Carleton offers to the public beyond our campus? How can Carleton become a model for thoughtful and responsible contributions to civic life?

Framing Questions: Carleton at the Center

How can Carleton’s central location, strong sense of place, commitment to sustainability, and programmatic connections to its surrounding landscape and communities be highlighted as a key source of authenticity and distinction?

What kinds of partnerships with other organizations and other, non-LAC higher ed institutions, could broaden our commitment to the community beyond Northfield, as well as help expand our pipeline of prospective students and prospective faculty and staff hires?

How can analysis of our current profile be used to increase the College’s visibility nationally and internationally, particularly among specific demographic groups and geographic regions where we seek to become better known?