Working relationships between faculty, staff, and students are an important component of graduate education at Penn State. The quality of these relationships can make or break the graduate school experience. The development of a positive learning environment depends on a shared vision of educational values, objectives and expectations. It is the joint responsibility of faculty, staff, and students to work together to nurture this vision, and to encourage freedom of inquiry, demonstrate personal and professional integrity, and insure a climate of mutual respect.
The following six principles are essential elements in a productive environment for graduate education at Penn State:
Understanding the work environment.
Faculty, staff, and students must each take the initiative to learn the policies, rules, regulations, and practices that affect them, their work, and the units in which they work. Graduate program handbooks, pertinent University publications, funding agency references, and other resources can typically be obtained from graduate program officers, the Internet, registered student organizations, department faculty, other students, faculty advisors, and thesis committee chairs.
Academic honesty, professional integrity, and confidentiality.
These qualities are the responsibility of all faculty, staff, and students. Each member of the graduate community must endeavor to adhere to the highest level of these ideals in all their personal and professional activities.
A clear course of study.
The student and their faculty advisor should develop and agree upon a clear plan of academic study and the responsibilities associated with it. Careful planning and discussion throughout a graduate program are the best ways to avoid later misunderstandings and problems.
An atmosphere of openness.
Students and faculty must work to establish and maintain an environment that is open, sensitive, and encourages free discussion between members of the graduate community. Clear, two-way communication is a critical ingredient in a successful graduate experience.
Acknowledgement of intellectual rights and property.
Students and faculty should discuss issues associated with academic freedom, intellectual property, authorship, and publication as part of the student's academic plan. Resolution of these issues early in the graduate program is often the best way to avoid later disputes.
Opportunities for evaluation.
Evaluation, reflection, and feedback are integral parts of the academic process. These items should be a regular part of every graduate program. Early, frequent, and constructive feedback help to prevent small differences from becoming serious problems.
While these six guiding principles are not exhaustive, they do reflect a spirit that can make the graduate education process at Penn State more rewarding and productive for everyone.