Calvin College

CALVIN - Minds in the Making

Strengthening Liberal Arts Education by Embracing Place and Particularity

Case Study

Transforming a nursing department by emphasizing place and partnership


Calvin College houses a nursing program which awards baccalaureate degrees to approximately 60 students annually.  The 4 year nursing program is grounded in the liberal arts.  The first two years of coursework are devoted strictly to the liberal arts.  All of the nursing coursework occurs during the last two years.  By having a strong emphasis on liberal arts prior to the nursing program, students come into the program with a rich knowledge base.  Health is complex and may require various disciplinary approaches.  Students are more effective in their nursing care when they have an understanding of the deeper issues that affect the health of individuals, families and communities and how to address them.

In 2002, the nursing department initiated a new community-based nursing curriculum.  The curriculum was designed in response to trends in health care, current nursing literature, and recommendations from accrediting bodies of nursing (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 1998; Pew Health Professions Commission, 1998; Community Campus Partnerships for Health). 

In addition, the curriculum was created to flow from the vision and mission of Calvin College.  Calvin College seeks to not only serve the internal community, but to also serve the external community, promoting social justice and reconciliation (Calvin College, 2002). 

Lastly, the new curriculum was influenced by a unique neighborhood partnership piloted by a couple nursing faculty a few years prior to the curriculum revision.


Next: Transformation of a Nursing Department