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One Tiny College's Lessons for Higher Education - College, Reinvented - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"[T]he College of the Atlantic—330 students and 43 faculty members ensconced on Maine's remote Mount Desert Island—has resisted growth, seeing smallness as key to providing an unusual education that cuts across disciplines, rejects academic conventions, and takes a highly personalized approach to teaching and learning.

"What I learned is how to do more with less, and as someone who is now an entrepreneur, I find that extremely valuable," Mr. Motzkin says. "It's about really being able to adapt and change and apply knowledge. In the future, that's going to be critically important."

The emphasis on smallness runs counter to the national frenzy for reinvention in higher education, which seems fixated on going online and scaling up in an effort to mass-produce knowledge (or at least degrees). Offbeat and experimental colleges like COA—think of Bennington, Goddard, Hampshire, or Unity—are often overlooked and fragile. But they bring new perspectives and techniques to higher education, in part because they are small and nimble.

These colleges provide "a kind of biodiversity in the whole system of higher education," says L. Jackson Newell, an emeritus professor of educational leadership and policy at the University of Utah and a former president of Deep Springs College, a tiny work college in California. "Keeping these institutions alive and healthy is a way of keeping the ideas behind these institutions alive, which I would say is critically important for the health of higher education as a whole.""

"Certain ideas were baked into the College of the Atlantic at its founding, 43 years ago, and they seem to have found a currency in the discussion today over what to do about higher education. Critics talk about academics in silos, toiling on obscure research. At COA, there are no departments, and with only one degree—human ecology—students and faculty members form a culture that encourages teaching, interdisciplinarity, and pursuing one's intellectual interests."
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may 2013 by robertogreco
Creating Distinctiveness: Lessons from Uncommon Colleges and Universities [PDF]
"Distinctive colleges and universities, as opposed to the great majority which fit into a more or less standardized mold, possess a unifying theme or vision which is expressed in all their activities. They often respond to newly emerging societal or community needs unmet by existing colleges and universities; they challenge conventional ideas about higher education and inspire greater engagement by students and faculty in undergraduate education. However, distinctiveness can also limit the institution to a very small market niche as well as sometimes making it more difficult for it to adapt to the changes necessary for survival. Strategic management models, such as the interpretive and adaptive models, need to be employed to aid distinctive colleges and universities to survive and grow. Recommendations for higher education leaders contemplating whether to pursue distinctiveness include: (1) identifying institutional values, followed by clarification, communication, and acting on unifying the values and themes found; (2) conducting a situation analysis to determine if the school is a likely candidate for distinctiveness; (3) selecting the desired level of market exposure; and (4) performing market research to uncover markets to which the college or university can appeal. Contains over 150 references and an index."
education  history  antiochcollege  blackmountaincollege  colleges  universities  learning  collegeoftheatlantic  evergreenstatecollege  stjohn'scollege  universityofchicago  universityofwisconsin  experiments  experimental  progressive  progressiveeducation  alternative  via:mayonissen  bereacollege  reed  reedcollege  ephemerality  change  ephemeral  popupschools  unschooling  deschooling  deepspringscollege  1992  barbaratownsend  ljacksonnewell  michaelwiese  gamechanging  distinctivecolleges  highered  highereducation  progressivism  bmc 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Maverick Colleges: Ten Noble Experiments in American Undergraduate Education (1993)
[Second edition (1996) of the book with some additional schools here in PDF: ]

[Wayback: ]

"This book is a product of a University of Utah graduate seminar conducted in the spring of 1991: "Notable Experiments in American Higher Education" (Educational Administration 728). The contributing authors are professor of educational administration L. Jackson Newell and seminar students, each of whom selected an innovative, or "experimental," college for research and reporting."

"Common Themes:

As seminar participants exchanged findings about the ten selected colleges, several prominent themes emerged that had not been predetermined by selection criteria but appeared to indicate common postures among experimental colleges. These include:

• Ideals spawning ideas. In most cases, the ten colleges appeared to start with the ideals of visionary founders. For some, the ideal concerned the citizens who would emerge from the learning experience …

• Emphasis on teaching; retreat from research. The vast majority of experimental colleges are liberal education colleges where the art of teaching and the development of students are values of high esteem. …

• Organization without specialization. Not unexpectedly, these experimental colleges also tended to turn away from the disciplinary organization of scholarship that had sprung from the German research university model. …

• Administrative innovations. Freedom from traditional higher education bureaucracy and hierarchy have been common pursuits of the colleges studied. …

Divergent Approaches:

Just as common themes instruct us about the aims and aspirations of various experimental colleges, so too do their divergent approaches. Two notable areas of difference among the colleges focus on who should attend and how their learning might best be organized during the college years."

[Bits from the section on Black Mountain College:]

"Its educational commitment--to democratic underpinnings for learning that comes from "human contact, through a fusion of mind and emotion" (Du Plessix-Gray 1952:10)-- was reflective of a larger liberal environment that managed a brief appearance before the 1950s ushered in fear of Communism and love of television."

"Rice and his colleagues had stronger convictions about how a college should operate than about how and what students might learn. Democracy would be paramount in the administration of the college, and structure would be loose. Students and faculty joined in marathon, long-winded decision-making meetings with decisions ranging from a faculty termination to a library acquisition.

Particularly prominent, and vital to the democratic underpinnings envisioned by Rice, was the absence of any outside governing body. Rice had determined that control exerted by boards of trustees and college presidents rendered faculty participation meaningless, limiting faculty to debate, "with pitiable passion, the questions of hours, credits, cuts. . . . They bring the full force of their manhood to bear on trivialities. They know within themselves that they can roam at will only among minutiae of no importance" (Adamic, 1938:624).

The faculty did establish a three-member "Board of Fellows," elected from among them and charged with running the business affairs of the College. Within a year, a student member was added to the Board."

"The 23-year history of Black Mountain College was one of few constants and much conflict. Three forceful leaders marked three distinct periods during the 23 years: the John Rice years, the Josef Albers decade, and the Charles Olson era.

During the first 5 years of the College, a solidarity of philosophy and community gradually took shape. It revolved largely around John Rice's outgoing personality (much intelligence and much laughter mark most reports from colleagues and students) and forceful opinions about education. He was determined, for example, that every student should have some experience in the arts.

This translated as at least an elementary course in music, dramatics and/or drawing, because:
There is something of the artist in everyone, and the development of this talent, however small, carrying with it a severe discipline of its own, results in the student's becoming more and more sensitive to order in the world and within himself than he can ever possibly become through intellectual effort alone. (Adamic 1938:626)

Although he cautioned against the possible tyranny of the community, Rice eventually decided that some group activity would,
…help the individual be complete, aware of his relation to others. Wood chopping, road-mending, rolling the tennis courts, serving tea in the afternoon, and other tasks around the place help rub off individualistic corners and give people training in assuming responsibility. (Ibid, 1938:627)

"Rice soon discovered what he would later call the "three Alberses"--the teacher, the social being and the Prussian. The Prussian Albers decried the seeming lack of real leadership at the College and the free-wheeling, agenda-less, community-wide meetings. Rice noted later, "You can't talk to a German about liberty. You just waste your breath. They don't know what the hell you mean" (Duberman 1972:69)."

"The war years ushered in a different kind of Black Mountain; one where students, and at least some faculty members, started lobbying for more structure in learning, but yet more freedom outside the classroom. Lectures and recitations were starting to occur within the classroom, while cut-off blue jeans and nude sun bathing appeared outside. Influential faculty member Eric Bentley insisted to his colleagues: "I can't teach history if they're not prepared to do some grinding, memorizing, getting to know facts and dates and so on…" (Duberman 1972:198). Needless to say, with Albers and many of the original faculty still on board, faculty meetings were decisive and volatile.

Overshadowing this dissent, however, was a new program that was to highlight at least the public notion of a historical "saga" for the College, the summer institutes. Like much at Black Mountain, the summer institutes started more by chance than choice."

"The summer institutes grew throughout the 1940s to include notable talents in art, architecture, music and literature. And it is probably these institutes and the renown of the individuals in attendance that contributed most to Black Mountain's reputation as an art school."

The excitement and publicity generated by the summer sessions, in addition to a general higher education population explosion spurred by the G.I. Bill, put the Black Mountain College of the late 1940s on its healthiest economic footing yet.

Still, Black Mountain managed to avoid financial stability. Student turnover negated some of the volume gains. Faculty salaries rose substantially, but grants and endowments did not. Stephen Forbes, for example, who had always been counted on to supply money to the College in tough times, refused a request in 1949 because he was disenchanted with the new emphasis on arts education at the expense of general education. The ability to manage what money it had also did not increase at Black Mountain, although Josef Albers proposed a reorganization that would include administrators and an outside board of overseers. In the wake of arguments and recriminations about the financial situation and how to solve it, a majority (by one vote) of the faculty called for the resignation of Ted Dreier, the last remaining faculty member from the founding group. In protest, four other faculty members resigned--including Josef and Anni Albers. By selling off some of the campus acreage, the remaining faculty managed to save the College and retain its original mindset of freedom from outside boards and administrators, while setting the stage for yet another era in its history [Charles Olson].

"What Albers lacked in administrative ability, he compensated for in tenacity and focus. What Rice lacked in administrative ability, he balanced with action and ideas. However, when Olson couldn't manage the administrative function, he simply retreated. His idea about turning the successful summer institutes into a similar series of year-long institutes fell on deaf faculty ears. So he gave up trying to strengthen the regular program."

"The vast majority of former Black Mountain students can point to clear instances of lasting influence on the rest of their lives. Mostly, this seems to have occurred through association: with one or two faculty members who made a difference, with a "community" of fellow individuals who were essential resources to one another, or with a new area of endeavor such as painting or writing or farming. Black Mountain, apparently, was a place where association was encouraged. Perhaps this occurred through the relatively small number of people shouldered into an isolated valley, perhaps by a common dedication to the unconventional, or perhaps to the existence of ideals about learning and teaching. At any rate, the encouragement of association with people and with ideas was not the norm in higher education then, nor is it now. Clearly, it is possible to graduate from most colleges and universities today with little, if any, significant association with faculty, students or ideas.

But at Black Mountain, as at other experimental colleges, association could hardly be avoided. Engagement with people and ideas was paramount; activity was rampant. It was social, and it was educational. As Eric Bentley would remark:

Where, as at Black Mountain, there is a teacher to every three students the advantage is evident. . .a means to … [more]
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may 2013 by robertogreco
The Chumbawamba Principle: A Commencement Address : Krulwich Wonders... : NPR
"It's time to design a version of yourself that might work. That might make you happy…To Become Somebody ... defined by you…

In high school, in grade school, you didn't have to design yourself. The folks in charge were happy to do it for you. You were marched into a school building at age 3, 4 or 5, placed at a desk or put in a circle, inspected by your teachers. And after that, you did what you were told, what everybody is told to do: Show up and learn stuff…

You can't always name the thing you're going to be. For most people it doesn't work that way. You have to back into it…

My second thought is that — and I'm sorry to tell you this — the designing never ends…

I've had to redesign myself so many times, I can't tell you how many…

Here's the point: When you are trying to create a version of yourself that will one day make you happy, half the battle is know your insides — know your pleasures.

And the other half is to know your outsides — to find allies, partners, mentors."
teaching  cv  adaptability  schools  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  howwelearn  alternative  alternativeeducation  unorthodox  tcsnmy  chumbawambaprinciple  chumbawamba  deschooling  unschooling  schooliness  education  self-knowledge  happiness  work  learning  collegeoftheatlantic  2012  commencementspeeches  robertkrulwich  self-defintion  failure  mistakes  yearoff2  yearoff  change  self-reinvention  reinvention  radiolab  jadabumrad  why  yesbut  whynot  commencementaddresses 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Human ecology - Wikipedia
"…interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary study of the relationship btwn humans & their natural, social, & built environments…

Human ecology is composed of concepts from ecology like interconnectivity, community behavior, & spatial organization. From the beginning, human ecology was present in geography & sociology, but also in biological ecology & zoology. However, it was the social scientists who applied ecological ideas to humans in a rigorous way. Throughout 20th century, few biological ecologists really tackled human ecology, but they tended to focus on humans’ impact on the biotic world—which is only half of the picture. Paul Sears is the perfect example of this, an ecologist who realized disastrous effects that humans were having on environment & called for human ecology to act as a means to solve them. However, some social scientists expanded human ecology to include also the physical environment's impact on people."

[Ken Robinson and K-12 reference at end of the article]
ecology  environment  human  philosophy  psychology  humanecology  collegeoftheatlantic  education  learning  interdisciplinary  systemsthinking  systems  interconnectivity  interconnectedness  glvo  behavior  spatialorganization  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  kenrobinson  tcsnmy  socialsciences  zoology  anthropology  sociology  interconnected 
february 2011 by robertogreco
College of the Atlantic - Wikipedia
"curriculum is based on human ecology, & all freshmen are required to take an introductory core course in human ecology during first term. Other requirements include 2 courses in each focus area (Environmental Studies, Arts & Design, Human Studies), 1 quantitative reasoning course, 1 history course, & 1 course that involves extensive writing. The intention is for students to explore & integrate ideas from different disciplines & to construct their own understanding of human ecology.

W/ focus on interdisciplinary learning, CotA does not have distinct departments…faculty members consider themselves human ecologists in addition to formal specialization.…professors of art, art history, anthropology, creative writing, political science and peace studies, economics, green & sustainable business, ecology, biology, botany, environmental science, sustainable food systems, film, law, environmental studies, international policy, languages, philosophy, history, education, music & psychology."
education  socialecology  collegeoftheatlantic  alternative  colleges  universities  glvo  socialentrepreneurship  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  projectbasedlearning  studentdirected  community  highereducation  highered  curriculum  tcsnmy  lcproject  maine  sustainability  ecology  social  pbl 
february 2011 by robertogreco
AshokaU | Supporting leaders in social entrepreneurship education.
"VISION | Ashoka U envisions a world where colleges and universities everywhere serve as an enabling environment for social entrepreneurship and everyone has access to the learning opportunities, role models, resources and peers needed to actualize their full potential as social entrepreneurs and changemakers.

MISSION | Ashoka U’s mission is to support universities and colleges that seek to be leaders in social entrepreneurship education. We foster and accelerate teaching, research, and action in social entrepreneurship to help institutions set a new standard of excellence in the field."
education  socialentrepreneurship  entrepreneurship  collegeoftheatlantic  georgemasonuniversity  thenewschool  dukeuniversity  duke  babsongollege  arizonastateuniversity  tulane  universityofmaryland  boulder  marquette  social 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Alternative university - Wikipedia
"Alternative universities which may be known by other names, especially as colleges in the United States are institutions which offer an education and in some cases a lifestyle which is intentionally not the mainstream of other institutions. Through the use of experimental and nonconvential curricula and offering much choice to students as to what and how they will study, such institutions distinguish themselves from traditional faculties…

Alternative universities, colleges and institutions in the USA: Antioch College; Bard College; Bennington College; College of the Atlantic; Deep Springs College; Evergreen State College; Eugene Lang College, which is part of The New School; Hampshire College; Goddard College; New College of Florida; Naropa University; Oberlin College; Reed College; Sarah Lawrence College; Union Institute & University BA Program; Warren Wilson College; Western Institute for Social Research"
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september 2010 by robertogreco

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