Measured Risk In A Complicated World

Centre College is committed to educating global citizens who are prepared to contribute meaningfully in a diverse marketplace of ideas where innovation and creativity are influenced by a broad array of perspectives.

Even more, we want our graduates not just to be able to thrive in such a setting; they should be prepared to assume leadership roles because of what they've experienced on our campus, in their classes, in their everyday interactions with our faculty and staff, and when they study abroad.

We succeed in this at Centre by creating an educational setting in which students can push boundaries in a safe and healthy environment.

I must confess, however -- and this personal conviction makes many uncomfortable -- that being completely safe in our increasingly complicated world is impossible. Yes, I wish for simpler days when the terror and mayhem that is now commonplace had not hardened us. But, those days are past.

Still, this cannot lead to isolation. And at Centre, we don't shy away from considering education an adventure. Of our recent graduates, 87 percent of the Class of 2016 studied abroad once, 28 percent studied abroad two or three times, and three students actually studied abroad four times. In all, the class as a whole spent a combined 2,268 weeks abroad during their four years at Centre.

In terms of physical safety, we take every precaution and err on the side of preparing for the worst all while hoping for the best. We constantly review our crisis management protocols, our Department of Public Safety conducts regular tabletop safety exercises, and we have an increased focus on Title IX-related issues.

But since our approach to education is holistic -- focused on developing mind, body, and spirit -- attention to health and safety takes on other dimensions.

Above all, by a safe environment we strive to be a place where students have the capacity and courage to be kind and generous, along with the ability to disagree without becoming disagreeable.

Fundamentally, this means that our campus is not only a place where our students can move about freely but also, and even more important, where they can work on the human experience at all levels by being free to take measured intellectual risk.

This works because of the underlying choice we have made as a college to respect the dignity of each member of our community and be a place where all are welcomed. Only because of this are we a place where people feel free to express an opinion without fear of repercussion and where students who have questions about themselves or their personal or mental health seek answers and help, earlier rather than later.

These safe and healthy boundaries are also the expectation when our students are away from campus at one of our residential sites or abroad on a CentreTerm trip led by our own faculty.

Four years in such an environment has, we hope, positive outcomes. So much so that when we send off our graduates with best wishes and Godspeed -- next year, the year after, and decades to come -- we expect that they will make a difference for good not just in their careers and communities but also in the hearts and minds of all whom they encounter.

At Centre College, that's what global citizenship and leadership is all about.