Community Values

The Community at Northwestern

One goal of a university education is to help each student develop as a unique individual — to be educated as a whole person, intellectually, emotionally, socially, ethically, and spiritually. Development and learning as an individual occurs, in part, when a student engages in relationships with others and in activities that optimally challenge that student. To enhance growth and learning, students should become actively involved in the life of the Northwestern community and engage fellow students, faculty, staff, and Northwestern’s various communities of interests and form relationships that both challenge and support your growth.

A student's journey of individual development does not occur in isolation; it takes place within a dynamic learning community. As a large, complex, and diverse institution, Northwestern attempts to balance its needs — to foster freedom for individual growth, to support its various communities of interests, and to fulfill its broader teaching and research mission. What principles should guide our mutual efforts to meet the diverse needs within our learning community? A group of students presented these statements, as a work in progress for further discussion and study, and for thoughtful consideration by all members of the Northwestern community.

Statement of Community Principles and Values

A university is an educationally purposeful community, a place where faculty and students share academic goals and work together to strengthen teaching and learning on campus.

  • Commitment to truth and knowledge is unwavering.
  • Respect for individual achievement and excellence is the cornerstone.
  • Lifelong learning is expected.

A university is an open community, a place where civility is powerfully affirmed and where freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected.

  • Civility and respect are expected behaviors.
  • Individuality is affirmed while all strive to build a stronger sense of campus community.
  • Freedom of choice is balanced with responsibility to the community.

A university is a just community, a place where the sanctity of the person is honored and where diversity is aggressively pursued.

  • Individual differences and unique perspectives are respected.
  • Our common humanity is the basis for community relations.
  • Inclusion is the foundation for decision making.

A university is a disciplined community, a place where individuals accept their obligations to others and where well-defined governance procedures guide behavior for the common good.

  • Freedom is balanced with duty.
  • Integrity and honesty are expected.
  • Consideration for the needs and rights of others is the norm.
  • Disagreement and conflict are acknowledged in respectful discourse.

A university is a caring community, a place where the well-being of each member is sensitively supported and where service to others is encouraged.

  • “Do no harm to others” is a nonnegotiable value.
  • Accurate self-understanding is the foundation for empathy, compassion, and understanding others.
  • Social responsibility and an ethic of service to others are extended to all members of the community.
  • Emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing is cultivated in academic and extracurricular life.

A university is a celebrative community, one in which the heritage of the institution is remembered and where rituals affirming both tradition and change are widely shared.

  • History, traditions, and the contributions of the past are honored.
  • Unique cultural and ceremonial practices are affirmed.
  • Individual religious and spiritual beliefs are accepted.

These values were derived from: Ernest Boyer (1990), Campus Life: In Search of Community. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.