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Experimental College Records

Call Number: UA044

Scope and Contents

The collection contains files from the administrative office of the Experimental College. Subject files include general administrative and project topics including early board meeting minutes. Both Series 2 Explorations and Perspectives and Series 3 Courses files contain material pertaining to course content and instructors, and may include syllabi, reading lists, course descriptions, and student's application forms to take the course. Annual reports are available from 1970 through 1996.

Content Warning

This finding aid contains language that may be offensive or outdated. Because such language is in titles or direct transcription of published materials, it has not been changed. Keeping this language intact provides the most accurate depiction of the creators’ intent, and can potentially tell us important things about bigotry and bias on the part of the creators, or in a particular historical context. It can also preserve terms formerly applied by a group to self-identify that have since fallen out of common usage. For more information on DCA's content warning policy please visit our website.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1967 -- 1997
  • Creation: 1958 -- 2014


Language of Materials



This collection contains some restricted material. Restrictions related to specific material are listed in the detailed contents list.

Conditions Governing Use

Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Please see “Reproductions and Use” on the Digital Collections and Archives website for more information about reproductions and permission to publish. Copyright to all materials created by Tufts University employees in the course of their work is held by the Trustees of Tufts University.

Biographical / Historical

Establishment, 1964-1968. The first board of the Experimental College was composed of faculty members representing four different fields: engineering, social science, natural science, and humanities, with one member-at-large. Almost immediately after convening, the board broke from Tufts tradition by including students in the decision-making process of the college. By the spring of 1966, the board unanimously agreed that its four student members be given full voting rights and that a two-thirds majority be required for all major decisions.

Among the students contributions were a movement toward the inclusion of ad hoc problem oriented courses in the curriculum, and the restructuring of the traditional classroom to include peer teaching. It was also at the suggestion of a student board member that the Ex College invited its first visiting lecturer to teach at Tufts.

Student Activism, 1969-1973. Relevance in the classroom, a key demand in the student rhetoric of the sixties, conjures images of gradeless classes, courses on consciousness, and open classrooms. In the Ex College, relevance in the classroom was funneled into an explosion of peer-led classes and courses on contemporary political issues. Its flexibility and openness made it an ideal place to absorb students political activity and demand for academic alternatives. The universitys African American Studies and Womens Studies programs were started in the Experimental College during this period, as was one of its most successful innovations, Explorations, a student-led seminar program that combines advising and academics for entering students, initiated in 1972.

The Struggle for a Permanent Charter, 1974-1979. By 1974, the Experimental College continued to display a capacity for growth and innovation. From its first course on the contemporary European novel to interdisciplinary science courses, to womens studies classes, to seminars on communications and law, the Ex College was able to adapt to a changing student culture. It was through this strength that the Ex College won a permanent charter in 1979. An outside evaluating committee reached the conclusion that for the Experimental College "to have survived and flourished as an innovative, undergraduate educational enterprise was nothing short of remarkable."

Growth and Change, 1979-1993. Along with continuing to emphasize Tufts commitment to undergraduate education through the testing of new ideas and courses, after 1979 the mission of the college took an important turn: developing and housing programs that did not fit well in the regular curriculum. Thus, the new charter meant that the Ex College -- along with testing such courses as American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, ethnomusicology, and jazz -- was now viewed as the appropriate venue for housing curricular innovations. This led to a decision on the part of the board to offer a special course intended to promote honest dialogue on campus, Race Awareness Within American Society. Moreover, the first two of a number of multidisciplinary programs, Peace and Justice Studies and Communications and Media Studies, were established as satellite programs. In 1990 the faculty approved independent status for Peace and Justice Studies, and it is now a major.

The attempt to have a positive impact on campus culture energized a group of student-friends of the Ex College who formed ACOIL (Advisory Committee on Intellectual Life), intended to foster the ideal of challenging oneself. Out of ACOIL grew EPIIC (Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship), yet another successful program, and now part of the Institute for Global Leadership.

The direction the Ex College embarked upon after 1979 hearkened back to the theme of its original charter: enhancing the undergraduate curriculum. In this spirit, the Ex College expanded its first-year programming during 1988 to include Perspectives, an alternative to the award-winning Explorations program. In 1991, the Ex College Board approved a proposal to make the program full-credit and base it on a survey of the movies as business and art.

Media, Technology, and the Future. In 1996, the Communications and Media Studies program, while continuing to be housed in the Ex College, won approval as an interdisciplinary minor. At almost the same time, the university embarked on a wiring project in the residence halls which, in turn, opened up the opportunity for educational access television on campus. After a three-year process of negotiation and study by the faculty, TUTV, the student-run, campus TV station, became another member of the Ex College family.


38 Linear Feet (35 boxes)


This collection is organized in four series: Subject files; Explorations and Perspectives; Course files; and Annual reports.

Processing status

This collection is processed.

Processing Information

Box 31 processed by Archives and Research Assistant Cassandra Anderson in December 2019. Materials were condensed into one box and a folder-level inventory was created.


Repository Details

Part of the Tufts Archival Research Center Repository

35 Professors Row
Tisch Library Building
Tufts University
Medford Massachusetts 02155 United States