The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents


Johanna Duncan-Poitier


Master Plan Amendment: Sunbridge College, Spring Valley, New York, Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in Liberal Studies


June 27, 2005


Goals 2 and 4





Executive Summary


Issue for Decision


Should the Regents authorize the amendment of the master plan of Sunbridge College, Spring Valley, New York in order for the College to offer a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree program in Liberal Studies?


Proposed Handling


This question will come before the full Board of Regents on July 21, 2005 as a consent agenda item.


Procedural History


Master plan amendment is required because this would be the Collegeís first use of the Master of Arts degree.


Background Information


Sunbridge College was granted a provisional charter in 1991. The charter was made absolute in 1999.  Sunbridge currently offers four graduate programs in education leading to the Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.) The Master of Arts degree program in Liberal Studies will address the needs of students who wish to study the work of Rudolf Steiner in areas other than education, such as architecture, evolution of consciousness and history, and sociology. 




The Department has determined that the proposed program, if approved, would meet the standards for registration set forth in the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.


VOTED: that the master plan of Sunbridge College be amended authorizing the College to offer a Master of Arts (M.A.) program in Liberal Studies. This amendment will be effective until July 31, 2006, unless the program is registered by the Department prior to that date, in which case master plan amendment shall be without term.



Academic Review


The mission of Sunbridge College is to help individuals deepen their relationship to the world through an encounter with Anthroposophy, and to prepare them for vocations of service to humanity. To fulfill its mission, Sunbridge College currently offers Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed.) degrees in Waldorf Education; Waldorf Early Childhood Education; Remedial Education; and Waldorf School Administration and Community Development.  However, students and prospective students often express an interest in studying Rudolf Steinerís work in areas other than education, such as architecture, evolution of consciousness and history, and sociology. 


A. Curriculum


The Master of Arts degree in Liberal Studies will be offered through Sunbridge Collegeís Barfield School, a fully integrated part of Sunbridge College course offerings. The curriculum will give special attention to the role of reflective and contemplative practices in learning and research as complementary to critical reasoning and quantitative analysis.


The curriculum is divided into four categories, totaling 32 credits: the Core Experience, Electives, Directed Study, and the Thesis Project.  The Core Experience comprises residential coursework over three summers and two winter residential workshops.  It will consist of courses in philosophy and cognition, contemplative inquiry and meditation, biography, and vocation and the arts as tools of imaginative cognition.  Following successful completion of the first-year core curriculum, students will work closely with a distinguished faculty member to design an individualized course of study that will incorporate their unique interests and aspirations, culminating in a masterís-level research paper or project.  Electives may be chosen from such subjects as The Evolution of Consciousness in History and Literature; Buddhism and Christianity; the New Physics; and Society and its Contemporary Pathologies.  Directed Study will take place between students and Sunbridge faculty mentors through the Internet services of e-College.  The Thesis Project will require an original piece of academic or action research. 


          B. Students


Admission will require a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from a recognized college or university, a minimum 3.0 average in a major, two letters of recommendation, and an original essay on the individualís background and interest in the program. 


Sunbridge surveyed 10,000 individuals about their interest in a masterís program of this kind, and received over 500 responses.  Based on this survey, the College anticipates that the student body will be predominantly women from outside New York State who are already interested in the work of Steiner and Anthroposophy; the average age is expected to be in the 40s.  The College projects an enrollment of 10 in year one, increasing to 40 by year five.


C. Faculty


Students will be guided in their studies and research by over 20 faculty, nearly all with terminal degrees in their disciplines.  Since the residential portions of the program take place over summers, with continuing studies taking place through a hybrid of residential and online during the fall and spring, Sunbridge College is able to engage the services of distinguished faculty who have a commitment to the Rudolf Steiner approach. 


          D. Resources


The proposed program will use classroom and meeting space on the Sunbridge College campus as well as the Collegeís administrative support, including that of career placement.  Students will have the use of a variety of library resources, including the Sunbridge College Library; the Rudolf Steiner Library in Harlemville, NY; the Entrepreneurial Library Program at Johns Hopkins University by special arrangement; and local public libraries.  The Rudolf Steiner Library is a regular mail request lending library.  Students will also have access to Web-based library resources through e-College, a respected provider of support services to institutions offering studies online.


Planning Review


          Only one institution, the College of New Rochelle, responded to a canvass of all institutions in the Hudson Valley region. It did not express any concerns about the proposed program.