Why IDEAS Is Important

Democratic education celebrates the joy of learning and enables students to play an active role in shaping their own learning by creating a framework for the sharing of ideas, learning philosophies, teaching practices and community visions. These programs give students more ownership over their education and they are a vehicle for students to share their passions, experiences, and wisdom with their peers in ways that aren’t always possible in a traditional classroom setting. 

Why IDEAS is Important for Enrolled Students

IDEAS courses foster intellectual discussions among peers where everyone plays an equal role in teaching and learning. IDEAS classes promote open discussion and multiple opinions which leads to greater class participation. This type of environment has led to students being more confident after taking part in the classes. Students who take part in these classes tend to gain confidence and are more willing to offer opinions during discussions than in traditional classes. 

Students often have the ability to shape the direction of courses. Facilitators are incredibly responsive to their students and often cater their courses to what the students would like to learn. The practice of democratic education increases student engagement because students take ownership over their education and create the course alongside their peers.

“At Stonehill, learning is built on the foundation of the Cornerstone Program, which emphasizes intellectual engagement, effective communication, leadership and collaboration, social responsibility and personal growth and discovery.”
IDEAS Participant

Why IDEAS is Important for Student Instructors

IDEAS courses makes Stonehill graduates more attractive to graduate schools and employers because of the initiative reflected in teaching a course as well as  the skills developed in the process.  The program provides an opportunity to gain confidence and teaching experience as well as skills that can be used on a broader scale to engage and lead groups through effective management, cooperation, and administrative skills.


“We do not know everything [about the subject we are teaching] but collectively [the students and facilitators] are learning, which is what democratic education is all about.”
 IDEAS Participant


Why IDEAS is Important for Faculty

The IDEAS program not only benefits Stonehill students. It also invites faculty members into a conversation about democratic education. By creating an inclusive, judgment-free environment, similar to the IDEAS program, faculty may discover that discussions are more fruitful in the traditional classroom.

IDEAS classes are heavily based on collaboration and effective communication. Better collaboration undoubtedly leads not only to improved group projects and assignments but greater mastery of the course content. Additionally, courses often require oral presentations, a task feared by many students. If students become more comfortable participating during an IDEAS course, they will not only be more inclined to share their opinions during traditional course discussions but also will become better at classroom presentations. 


“There are a lot of skills that are valuable to any job or occupation – engaging and leading a group of individuals – you create your course and see it through to the end, whether you are learning managing skills, cooperation, administrative skills – there are plenty of things that are applicable to just about anywhere.”.
 Stonehill Faculty Member