Shimer College

How it Works

Self-Governance at a Small Alternative College in Chicago

There are no bystanders at Shimer College. 

Shared accountability shapes every aspect of our communal life. We hold ourselves responsible for shaping every part of the Shimerian experience, from classroom discussion and Solidarity to school policy and marketing efforts. The more we participate, the richer our lives.

Every voice heard. Every vote counted. 


In addition to being an institution of radical and rigorous education, Shimer is a political community that represents ideas and beliefs from across the spectrum.

Our self-governing body, called the Assembly, meets regularly to make decisions on matters that affect our community. The Assembly includes all members of Shimer College. Each person has one vote.

On Citizenship

We cannot overstate our belief in open dialogue and the exchange of ideas.

Being such a small school, every decision impacts us all. Our leaders respect our autonomy and expect us to uphold it for ourselves, at Shimer and for the rest of our lives. It is by virtue of our shared accountability that we learn to rigorously prepare for any debate or discussion, ready to define our terms and cite our sources.

In respecting Shimer’s social contract, we learn to formulate and argue our opinions, listen to the opinions of others, adapt our perspectives, and evolve. By being a part of this community, we learn that the whole is only as strong as its parts, and so we dedicate ourselves to knowledge, compassion, and progress.

This is true learning by experience.