About Southwestern

Education for Tomorrow

Ours is a history of firsts. We are the first institution of higher education in Texas, home to the first Rhodes Scholar in Texas, and the originator of the very first homecoming celebration. This tradition of firsts continues as Southwestern University creates a new and dynamic educational experience designed to produce a 21st century thinker.

Education For Tomorrow

  • The Southwestern Experience offers an expanded perspective from which to explore existing knowledge while enhancing the mind’s ability to see and create new knowledge.
  • We inspire and nurture the ability to see things differently, question the status quo, create new ideas, and change the world through personal transformation. 
  • Students develop the abilities, skills and intellectual practices necessary to explore regions of original thought and creative expression.

Paideia — Enhanced Thinking Through Connective Insights

Spend a little time on Southwestern University’s campus and you’ll undoubtedly hear the word “Paideia” referring to our interdisciplinary approach to education. If the term seems Greek to you, you’re right. Paideia (pīˈdāə/) is a Greek word referring to the education of the ideal citizen who is well versed in the arts, humanities, and sciences thereby creating an enlightened outlook born of the ability to see things from multiple perspectives.

Put simply, Paideia is all about making connections between different ways of knowing and understanding complex issues. Making connections between your academic coursework, campus life experiences, and between your own life and the world around you.

“We have figurative lightbulbs going off all the time on campus–we call them Paideia Moments.

- Edward Burger, President & Professor


At Southwestern University, you’ll be encouraged to explore and connect seemingly unrelated subjects. You’ll learn how to think outside the narrow focus of your primary discipline and through the broader lens of your entire academic experience. The intellectual practice of making connections is the very foundation of innovation, original thinking, and creative expression.

Innovation at the Crossroads 

It’s easy to find impressive examples of real-world innovation made possible by the ability to make connections between disparate ideas. Picking burrs from his dog’s fur in Switzerland inspired the creation of Velcro. An engineer with a love of bird-watching used lessons learned from diving kingfishers to make bullet trains 30% more efficient. Would the exquisite aesthetic and typography of Apple® devices have been possible were Steve Jobs not as equally infatuated with calligraphy as he was with computer science?

Inquiry-Based Learning- How to Think, Not What to Think

The concept of inquiry-based learning is something you’ve already experienced. As a child, you would ask questions in order to better understand and make meaning of the world around you.

With traditional teaching methods, a professor passes information from textbook to student. Success is measured by the student’s ability to recite this information back with an emphasis on producing one correct answer. As a consequence, much of that information is never retained. 

“Inquiry-based learning turns the traditional teaching model on its head: The student becomes the producer of original ideas rather than a passive consumer of ideas that have been created by others.”

- Edward Burger, President & Professor


Inquiry-based learning is more dynamic and actively engages students in their own learning. It starts with a question, puzzle, or scenario, and in doing so ignites a student’s natural curiosity. Working together, students learn not just from a lecture, but through their own collective investigation, often creating new answers, as well as new questions, and new knowledge along the way.

At Southwestern, we are designing an intellectual experience that greatly enhances your ability to understand, interpret and evaluate ideas and information and our interconnected curriculum affords students an expanded perspective from which to explore.

Diversity of Culture & Thought

At Southwestern, we believe that diversity is an integral part of our enriched learning environment, and is an indispensable element of our inquiry-based initiatives. Diversity expands our worldliness, enhances social development, increases our knowledge base, challenges us by engaging with different ideas and perspectives, and better prepares our students for life in a global society. 

“Here you’ll find a diverse community, as well as a true commitment to creating an inclusive environment that is equally welcoming to all.”

- Edward Burger, President & Professor

Undergraduate Research

Southwestern University undergraduate students are not only conducting original research, but often have the opportunity to publish and present their work alongside faculty as well. These research opportunities extend well beyond the sciences to include the arts, humanities and social sciences. Learning through discovery continues for students who conduct research with faculty mentors in SCOPE, our inquiry initiative’s summer research program.

“Southwestern not only offers you the opportunity to participate in research as an undergraduate, but to be recognized for that work as well.”

- Edward Burger, President & Professor

Effective Failure

On the SU campus, experimenting with new ideas and concepts is a major focus. We prioritize original thinking and encourage mistakes. Our faculty understands that trying new things is the best way to learn.

“Students at Southwestern learn to lean into risk, past uncertainty, to ask new questions, think beyond conventional wisdom, imagine different realities, and create their own answers…without risk there can be no creativity and no discovery.”

- Edward Burger, President & Professor

High Impact Experiences

Our rich, interdisciplinary focus includes both in and out of classroom learning with high-impact experiences such as internships, civic engagement, study abroad, undergraduate research. Nearly all Southwestern students participate in 2 or more of these high impact experiences during their Southwestern Experience.

“High Impact experiences greatly enhance a student’s ability to synthesize, interpret and evaluate information from the world around us and our interdisciplinary focus affords students an expanded perspective from which to do this.”

-Edward Burger, President & Professor