At SSU we offer something so different from a large public university that it can be quite hard to explain what’s going on here!  We often get asked what students should expect from such a unique learning community – a small, private liberal arts university with a focus on inner transformation and community engagement.  This whole website should help build a picture of SSU, but this page is dedicated to a list of some values and goals that we aim towards as a community, and that you should therefore reasonably expect to find here…


  • A commitment to academic freedom and critical thinking that encourages everyone to let their worldviews shift and expand.
  • A place that allows you to grow, work and travel together, free to make mistakes and learn from them without judgment (and with support).
  • Unforced spirituality in an atmosphere that is shaped by the values of justice, beauty and compassion, centred on loving and accepting others and a desire to intentionally grow in maturity and engage with the world around us.
  • Opportunities to explore and experience various forms of spirituality and spiritual expression.
  • Respect for different belief perspectives, sexual orientations, cultures and backgrounds, in a community that tries not to make assumptions about where you are at, what you should believe, or who you should become.
  • Facilitation of holistic development of who you are, academically, personally and spiritually.
  • Shared celebration and lamentation – a place that is real and doesn’t pretend that life should be a fairytale, but invites you to share the difficulties of life as well as the fun times.

Do NOT Expect:

  • Everyone to think like you, act like you, talk like you or dress like you.  (We value diversity and authenticity).
  • Lots of rules and a strict behaviour code. (We value respect for each other, and the responsibility that comes with living closely together).
  • A distinct sacred/secular divide that can lead to “over-spiritualisation” of daily life.  (We value the beauty of the here and now, on this earth, and we look for God everywhere in it).
  • A hierarchical, individualistic or authoritarian approach to learning.  (We value the input that comes from each individual in a group learning environment, rather than relying on all wisdom and knowledge to come only from professors).
  • Mandatory religious practices such as chapel services.  (We offer some regular optional practices such as our School of Contemplation, and we facilitate other activities that are usually requested and led by students).
  • A dogmatic worldview with a narrow understanding of spirituality.  (We value the breadth of understanding that comes from a diverse community living together, and the expression of that understanding in ways that people are passionate about).