It is the mission of Prescott College to educate students of diverse ages and backgrounds to understand, thrive in, and enhance our world community and environment. We regard learning as a continuing process and strive to provide an education that will enable students to live productive lives while achieving a balance between self-fulfillment and service to others. Students are encouraged to think critically and act ethically with sensitivity to both the human community and the biosphere. Our philosophy stresses experiential learning and self-direction within an interdisciplinary curriculum.
Prescott College began in the 1960s, a time of optimism and growth, when leaders of a small town in the stunningly beautiful pine and chaparral country of central Arizona were searching for a new cultural identity. Dr. Charles Franklin Parker, minister of Prescott’s First Congregational Church and Prescott College founder, announced the ambitious project of creating the Harvard of the West – Prescott College. With the group of visionary leaders, Parker drew on the Congregationalist tradition of founding over 50 leading colleges and universities in America, beginning with Harvard in 1636, and including such institutions as Middlebury, Dartmouth, Amherst, Smith, Yale, Oberlin, Grinnell, Whitman, Colorado, Pomona and Scripps.
Many of the College's core philosophical and educational principles emerged in 1963, in a conference of state and nationally known leaders from higher education funded by the Ford Foundation’s Fund for Post-Secondary Education, Business and Industry. These principles crystallized around a central goal: To produce the leaders increasingly crucial to successfully meeting the challenges of the changing world. Dr. Parker’s vision “for a pioneering, even radical experiment in higher education “ and “to graduate society’s leaders for the twenty-first century who would be needed to solve the world’s growing environmental and social problems” seems especially prescient today, as humanity comes to terms with global warming and its potential for large-scale, adverse health, social, economic, and ecological effects. Society looks to new models of education to better prepare students of all ages for their role as global citizens.