Living Our Values

In the year leading up to the launch of the Burlington City & Lake Semester, the faculty spent hours building a beautiful list of core values. Although painstaking, it was one of the most important things we did, since those values became our North Star. When the BCL faculty makes design decisions, we do so with these values in mind. 

As a part of the program’s ongoing process of evaluation and continuous improvement, we asked students which BCL values are most alive, and how they are embodied in their experience. Although we are only a few weeks into the semester, their responses are clear reminders of what matters.  

At Battery Park, BCL9 students heard the geological story of the Champlain Basin, and the Abenaki origin story of Petonbowk, the Waters Between…
…and reflected on what we can learn from each worldview.
Gratitude for our partners from Shelburne Farms, Aimee Arandia Østensen and Courtney Mulcahy.

SYSTEMS THINKING: We’ve focused on systems thinking a lot. We thought about what makes systems thrive and systems within our own community. We’ve also explored systems of racism/ poverty and how that affects different communities.

– Vivian

CURIOSITY: I think curiosity is shown a lot in our journals and in our Expos. We have a lot of freedom linked to those two things in particular. and I think it helps open our mind up and leads us to be more curious thinkers.

– Camryn

CURIOSITY:  Most of the time in BCL we get confused and start being curious and starting to ask questions.

– Damascene

DEEP LEARNING: An example of this in BCL is the time we spent today with guests who were talking about equity, equality, justice, and belonging. When they asked me how I would define belonging, it made me think for a long time and it felt like a really deep question.

– Hank
In small groups at the Surf Club, students analyzed different city systems….


…and renewed their relationship with natural systems

INCLUSION: In BCL, we talk not as much about people being included, but a lot more about how people are not included and how we can include them. We go over ways that people are discriminated against and don’t have the privilege to be included, and how we can fix that.

– Reid

LOVE: Where do I see the value LOVE in the BCL ? I saw love when we were hugging the trees at the Surf Club. We showed our love for nature. BCL is about getting to know all about the Burlington community and the Lake. I love my hometown. BCL helps me love it more. To have love as a value in the BCL program makes me feel happy and it feels like a safe place.

– Cosmo

CURIOSITY: When we get exposed to different perspectives, that allows us to learn new things. 

– Yacin

JOY: To me, joy is more than just feeling happy. It’s a sense of belonging and feeling genuinely good.

– Sarah

DEEP LEARNING: Every day is engaging and thought provoking. I always come away with more to think about. All the learning also helps me find more value in the class.

– Scout

INCLUSION: Why inclusion? Because everyone in BCL finds a way to include people no matter what it is.

– Tai
A contemplative moment on the shoreline
Roxanne Scully led our group in yoga…
…and facilitated dialogue about well-being. 

CURIOSITY: One value we’ve been really embodying at BCL has been curiosity. We’ve placed a lot of value in asking and investigating questions. One example of this is how it’s a main idea on the Expos [our weekly analytical assignments].

– Sophia

EMPOWERMENT: BCL also does a good job of empowering the members. It feels good to be empowered and makes me feel like I can make change in our community.

– Isaac

FUN – One prominent value of BCL is surely fun. Entire chunks of time are devoted to having fun and building community. Often we start the day with a fun activity… While a short 10 minute chunk of time may not seem like it could accomplish much, it helps set the mood for the entire day.

– Kai

CURIOSITY: I think asking questions is something that we do a lot and practice. I’ve never thought of curiosity as a skill or something that needs to be practiced. I also really enjoy the way the questions we ask often have no need for an answer and often even spark more questions! In BCL questions are what start discussions that can be super deep and meaningful.

– Rosie
We took full advantage of our time at the Surf Club to play.
Dov and Cosmo in a test of strength (that ended in a mutual laugh!)
Hitting the water…
…and taking a different perspective on the lake, and on what it feels to be in community.

FUN: this value is reflected nearly every day at BCL and is something that I look forward to. Even on the first day of games, I felt more acclimated to the other people. And playing Survival and volleyball really helped me make friends.

– Evan

EMPATHY: For the whole time I’ve been here we’ve done a lot of talking about how we’ve felt. And throughout that process I have been able to understand and be empathetic towards everyone.

– Nash

FUN is a value that I see in BCL constantly. It shows up in the activities during Morning Meet and during the Fun Blocks. I see that having fun is something that is made a priority. 

– Lilia

LOVE: You need to have love for everyone around us. And in our BCL community. We approach everyone with love no matter what.

– Dyllann
Back at the ONE Center, students brought in objects, each of which holds many stories…
…and then interviewed one another to learn more about those stories.
The one and only – BCL9!

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