Inclusive Polytechnic University


We cultivate success through a diverse culture of experiential learning, discovery, and innovation.


Cal Poly Pomona will be the model for an inclusive polytechnic university that inspires creativity and innovation, embraces local and global challenges, and transforms lives.


  1. Student Learning & Success
  2. Academic Excellence
  3. Experiential Learning
  4. Inclusivity
  5. Community Engagement
  6. Social & Environmental Responsibility

Elements of Cal Poly Pomona’s Inclusive Polytechnic Education

Each element represents an integral component of Cal Poly Pomona as an inclusive polytechnic university. When applied together and in a synergistic fashion, these elements give powerful expression to the educational experience of our students.

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Evolving definition of Cal Poly Pomona's inclusive polytechnic education

Guided by the University Strategic Plan, Cal Poly Pomona places high importance on inclusive academic excellence. Cal Poly Pomona’s polytechnic approach provides a high-quality, inclusive, up-to-date, relevant, engaging, and immersive educational experience to our students; one in which theory and practice are linked in curricular and co-curricular experiential learning activities. Our polytechnic approach is driven by evidence-based pedagogical practices as well as by innovation, and it is supported, enabled, and enhanced by technology. We use multiple modalities of teaching to facilitate and enhance student learning of theoretical principles, and we design a variety of discipline-specific and discipline-appropriate hands-on, real-world experiences to link theory to practice. We incorporate a variety of enriching and high-impact practices to promote student learning and success. The multi-faceted polytechnic approach prepares students for effective entry into the workforce, as well as for the pursuit of advanced professional and graduate studies. Our polytechnic approach instills a collaborative spirit in students and prepares graduates for lifelong learning and problem solving.

The following are broad elements that define the polytechnic approach at Cal Poly Pomona. Our academic master plan calls for the integration of these elements in all programs (majors and minors), including the General Education program.

Application of Knowledge

At Cal Poly Pomona, our learn-by-doing tradition dates back to the very beginning of our existence as an institution of higher learning in 1938. Our polytechnic approach is driven by our mission to deliver a high-quality education in which theory and practice are linked in curricular and co-curricular activities. Throughout our near 80-year history, our commitment to this hands-on, real-world delivery of education has only been refined and reinforced. We have never deviated from our commitment to expose our students to real-world problems to ensure that they “hit the ground running” when they enter the workforce or when they pursue advanced professional or graduate studies. The phrase “learn-by-doing” has both historical and emotional significance for the members of the Cal Poly Pomona community, and we suspect it will continue to live in our oral and written communications. To ensure that our Academic Master Plan is in full alignment with the University Strategic Plan, we now adopt the use of “experiential learning” to refer to all those activities that involve learning while applying fundamental and theoretical principles to real-world situations, opportunities, and challenges.

Application of knowledge, which includes a deep commitment to hands-on, learn-by-doing, is captured in Cal Poly Pomona's motto, Instrumentum Disciplinae, and is also prominently displayed on our university seal.

Several high-impact practices are used by departments and programs to thoughtfully and systematically embed experiential learning experiences in curricular and co-curricular activities. These include hands-on laboratory, activity, and independent study classes; internships; service-learning activities; community-based learning experiences; collaborative team projects; apprenticeships; work study; and project-focused co-curricular activities.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

We seek to train our students to be problem solvers by applying the fundamental theoretical principles learned in the classroom to real-world situations, opportunities, and challenges. Incorporation of problem solving learning activities in curricular and co-curricular exercises necessitates active learning which reinforces learned facts, theories, and techniques and, in turn, promotes high-level intellectual processes such as reflective and integrative information processing, analytical thinking, critical thinking, and qualitative and quantitative analyses. Whether problem solving activities are used in the classroom or as part of a research or creative project, performance, production, or senior culminating experience, they instill a strong sense of purpose and direction in students. This approach prepares students to use a thoughtful, methodical, and fact-based approach to solving real-world problems.

Creativity, Discovery, and Innovation

At the core of providing experiential learning opportunities in preparation for the real world is the desire to create learning environments for students which promote creativity, discovery, and innovation. While there are many ways in which these goals can be accomplished, none is more effective than creating opportunities for close student-mentor interaction in pursuit of research, scholarly and creative activities, applied projects, senior culminating experiences or capstone projects, performances, productions, and other types of focused, engaging, and immersive educational experiences guided by expert faculty and professional staff. Such activities are well-known high-impact practices that promote and enhance multiple dimensions of our student success framework at Cal Poly Pomona. They also promote and support our commitment to the teacher-scholar model, which ensures that faculty members remain highly-qualified, intellectually engaged and productive, and at the cutting edge of their disciplines.

Diverse and Multi-disciplinary Perspectives

Today's opportunities and challenges can seldom be addressed by using the principles and tools of only one discipline. Often, not only is it necessary to include fundamental principles as well as techniques from multiple disciplines, but it is also necessary to include diverse human perspectives as well as to draw synergistic links and connections between areas of human expertise. Advances in human understanding and, indeed, paradigm shifts occur when multiple minds bring diverse perspectives and, in addition, the knowledge base, tools, techniques, and approaches of different disciplines to illuminate the problem at hand. While specific expertise in various disciplines is necessary to bring about successful inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary collaborations, it is not sufficient. We believe that, in addition, there is a need for a strong presence of the liberal arts and humanities in our curricular and co-curricular activities in order to ensure that goals, objectives, and efforts are aligned with broader moral, ethical, legal, and societal contexts.

Integration of Technology

Technology plays a large role at a polytechnic university. Our pedagogical practices and designs are based on evidence. However, innovation and creativity, enabled and supported by the latest technology, play important roles in delivering the quality polytechnic education associated with Cal Poly Pomona. At all times, it is important to recognize that pedagogy drives the teaching and learning agenda. Technology merely enables, supports, enhances, and brings to fruition evidence-based or innovative pedagogical designs and practices. Technology also plays an important facilitative role in performing and analyzing assessments and reviews both at the class and programmatic levels. Incorporation of established and emerging tools in our curricula will continue to be a hallmark of our polytechnic approach.

Collaborative Learning

Common intellectual experiences, learning communities, collaborative projects, and collaborative assignments have all been recognized and documented as high-impact practices that promote student learning and success. Teamwork and group approaches to learning and solving problems are at the core of instilling strong interpersonal and leadership skills in students, and preparing students for productive and fulfilling lives and careers. They are also at the core of imparting the realities of innovation in a modern and fast-paced world. The ability to work effectively within multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary teams is the first prerequisite in tackling opportunities and challenges in a complex modern world. Such synergistic collaboration is also an essential ingredient in creating an environment that promotes creativity, discovery, and innovation.

Community and Global Engagement

The University Strategic Plan calls for creating conditions that help our students become responsible and ethical citizens who are civic minded and are engaged with the local and global communities. The strong liberal arts and general education components of our polytechnic approach place heavy importance on these values. Cal Poly Pomona is a comprehensive university committed to strong engagement with our local communities. We understand the importance of our reciprocal interactions with our local and surrounding communities. We know that Cal Poly Pomona serves as an intellectual and economic engine for the local region and, in turn, we recognize that local internships, service-learning activities, and other community engagement opportunities serve as critical components of the polytechnic education we offer our students. Moreover, industry partners enrich and expand opportunities for students, faculty, and staff. We aim to make Cal Poly Pomona more of a destination and focal point for our local populations. We are also keenly aware of the global nature of our modern opportunities and challenges. Through international exchange and study abroad programs, we wish to have a global presence, which will in turn expose our students to different cultures, views, ideals, and approaches of diverse peoples of the world.

Professional and Career Readiness

When properly incorporated into curricular and co-curricular activities, the polytechnic elements listed above ensure that our graduates are ready to enter the workforce as effective, responsible, and ethical citizens. The polytechnic method instilled in our students ensures that our graduates are not only ready to seek solutions to challenges and problems, but also have their eyes on the horizon for emerging trends, opportunities, and challenges. The polytechnic approach instills a desire in our students to be not only astute students of today’s issues, but also lifelong learners who can tackle the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow.