Warren Wilson College is located in the Swannanoa River Valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The campus consists of 1,130 acres situated on the outskirts of Asheville, Western North Carolina's historical, cultural, and creative center. The campus features 25 miles of trails winding through forest, farm, and gardens. The campus includes housing for 900 students and for many faculty, staff, and their families. Along with residence halls, the central campus comprises classrooms, laboratories, studios, faculty offices, administrative offices, dining facilities, the library, and a student center.
The College's educational program, the Triad, consists of three interwoven strands of experience: liberal arts academic study, a campus-wide work program, and service learning. Grounded in principles of sustainability and guided by core values of diversity, community, and cross-cultural understanding, Warren Wilson's work and service-based programs deepen each student's engagement in academic learning and in personal growth and well-being.
The Triad: Academics
Strong Liberal Arts Curriculum, Practical Applications
Warren Wilson's curriculum challenges students while creating a foundation for lifelong learning. The academic program teaches students to think critically, evaluate information effectively, and communicate clearly while providing opportunities to make connections between the classroom and hands-on experiences. The College's liberal arts focus encourages students to explore various fields of study before choosing from over 20 majors, including traditional arts and science disciplines, pre-professional studies, and interdisciplinary programs. The four-term calendar allows concentration in fewer subjects at one time, with smaller class sizes and ample opportunity for independent study, internships, and other field work.
The Triad: Work
Building Skills, Creating Community
The work program has been fundamental to the College since its founding in 1894. Students work 15 hours per week on one of over 100 work crews responsible for the daily functioning of the campus and essential operations of the College. Through the work program, students take ownership of their college community while developing respect for the value of work. The work program builds confidence while advancing skills in problem solving, organization, and communication. At work, students build specific skills that reinforce their classroom experiences and see academic theories come to life.
The Triad: Service
Passionate, Creative Community Engagement
Service has always been a core value of the College and a graduation requirement for nearly 50 years. Service integrates experiential, real-world activities into the College's academic offerings and work crew experiences with projects that facilitate the development of problem solving and analytical skills. Students serve in the local community, across the country, or internationally as part of a study abroad experience. Through service, students engage in issue education through workshops, alternative fall/spring break service trips, and weekly projects integrated with first-year seminars.
Study abroad is a major component of the Warren Wilson College experience. By immersing themselves in the history, culture, language, and social issues of a particular region, students become aware of their own cultural footprint. They become independent thinkers, observers, careful travelers, and comfortable inhabitants in their host country. Managing travel and living abroad builds effective decision-making and problem-solving skills while fostering confidence and independence. Study abroad opportunities include faculty-led, short-term and term-length courses, single-semester or year-long independent study abroad programs, and academic internships.
The College and its landscape is a living laboratory where sustainability infuses nearly every aspect of campus life, from academics, work, and service to daily living and long-term planning. Students grasp how complex issues such as poverty, environmental degradation, overpopulation, and illiteracy have common, interconnected strands: economic, environmental, and social/cultural elements that define community well-being. They learn these connections in the classroom, explore them on their work crews, and engage these complex community issues through service. As a roadmap for community engagement, Warren Wilson's sustainability focus prepares students to make responsible life choices for future generations.
The College has long demonstrated its commitment to provide a deeper student experience by embracing and engaging diversity in race, national origin, cultural background, disability, gender, sexual orientation, social class, religion, opinions, and ideas. Openness and inclusivity are encouraged and supported. Preparing students to solve problems can't happen without providing a rich, dynamic educational experience including exposure to a range of valid opinions, ideas, and identities. This preparation, in turn, builds real-life skills in problem-solving, facilitation, and articulation of one's position against a backdrop of vibrant and sometimes unpredictable discourse. The College strives to create a comfort level in which students have the opportunity to become more balanced, grounded, and well-rounded.
The College is a learning community that provides a host of opportunities for personal, physical, moral, and spiritual development. About 87 percent of students live on campus alongside many faculty, staff, and their families to create a balanced, well-rounded social experience. The College's academic, work, and service philosophy affirms and supports the dignity and worth of each student, with individualized attention in the classroom and accessible administrators and faculty.
The College's distinctive governance system promotes lively discourse and honors individual viewpoints among students, faculty, and staff. Through Student Caucus and other avenues, each student has an important voice and helps to shape campus life and college policies. Any member of the community can initiate proposals for new ways of doing things, and everyone has the opportunity to participate in making decisions that affect the future of the institution.
(See also section 1.07.06)