The vision of the Ithaca College physics department is that our physics graduates, service students, and integrative core curriculum students are successful in a wide range of career paths and have the ability to adapt their skills to jobs that have yet to be created. We also envision that our focus on student centered learning and student-faculty research using a mixture of traditional, current, and integrative pedagogical techniques informed by on-going education research will create a model for physics and astronomy education that is nationally recognized in both public and professional circles. 


In the spring of 2004 the Department of Physics unanimously adopted a new mission statement, which we reaffirmed during our 2012 planning:

We are dedicated to teaching and learning physics in a collaborative, performance- based community1. We encourage observation and analysis of the natural world, and we seek to provide the tools and skills for advancing our knowledge of the universe and for providing solutions to challenges we face as individuals, communities, and societies. 


As we serve our community, we strive to hold to the following values

  • Fostering a sense of community
  • Striving for excellence in performance-based teaching and research
  • Maintaining high levels of professionalism and integrity
  • Creating an environment of active learning and effective communication
  • Striving for the highest qualities in all aspects of our work

While our mission statement successfully conveys a feeling for what our department does, it would be made more clear to a wide range of readers by including a definition of ’performance-based’: Performance-based teaching and learning involves students practicing their new skills and knowledge as they learn during every class meeting. This term derives from the history of Ithaca College as a music conservatory in which musical performance is an integral part of music education at all levels. Active performance of physics enhances the learning process by compelling students to practice their new skills in an environment where they can interact with teachers and classmates. This approach enhances the traditional, lecture-based mode of teaching in which students hear about physics. In a performance-based classroom students learn physics by regularly doing physics.