After a generation of the "me" mentality of American life, we are coming full circle to the realization that the collective "we" has been systematically and tragically ignored in American life in recent years. Taking this from the macro-community of America to the micro-community of our campuses, there is, for the first time in many years, a real change toward a new definition of the common good, of community, and of the sense of the mutual bonds that bind responsible people to their society. We are changing from an "I want" philosophy to a more collective "We should have." These are exciting words and times, and we must capitalize on the welcome return of this societal ethos in our schools of nursing.
In a recent document published by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, titled Campus Life in Search of Community, six principles are identified that provide an effective formula for day-to-day decision-making on campus. These principles define the kind of community every college and university should strive to be. They are:
1. An educationally purposeful community, where faculty and students share academic goals and work together to strengthen teaching and learning on the campus.
2. An open community, where freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected and where civility is powerfully affirmed.
3. A just community, where the sacredness of the person is honored and where diversity is aggressively pursued.
4. A disciplined community, where individuals accept their obligations to the group and where well-defined governance procedures guide behavior for the common good.
5. A caring community, where the well-being of each member is sensitively supported and where service to others is encouraged.
6. A celebrative community, one in which the heritage of the institution is remembered and where rituals affirming both tradition and change are widely shared.
The report draws attention to factors that have influenced changes in campus life. All of us know that today's undergraduates are more mature than the students who enrolled several decades ago. These students bring a determined independence to their campus Ufe. Many of our students are now enrolled part-time, and their demands specify complicated schedules. Fortunately, our students are now coming from almost every racial and ethnic group and from many different countries. A diverse student body requires different approaches to building an effective campus community.
The Carnegie report points out that what is needed is a more integrative vision of community in higher education. To achieve this, it states that the focus must shift from the length of time students spend on campus to the quality of their encounters when on campus. The six principles provide a springboard for discussion and decision-making for the campus as a whole and for each of its schools.