The playbook for reimagining Higher Education

Building the Intentional University, Minerva style

This evening I was privileged to join the team @Minerva Schools in New York as they launched ‘Building the Intentional University’. Personally, I find Minerva one of the most interesting ‘startups’ in the world today. Not just because Minerva is pursuing one of the most important missions in the world today, but because Minerva is so focused on this mission that it has published it’s ‘secret sauce’ for all to use.

What kind of startup publishes 400 pages of its secret sauce?

I first met the founder, Ben Nelson, several years ago and other than being struck by the sheer audacity and courage of the Minerva Project, I was impressed by how meticulously the team had envisioned the way they hoped their efforts would influence a renaissance and re-imagination of higher education. Launched today, Minerva’s book will no doubt start a much bigger conversation around the world that is long overdue. I know that’s what the team at Minerva are hoping for too and why tonight they shared 400 pages of secret sauce.

If you work in or around education, talent or the future of work and have not yet come across Minerva, it’s definitely time to catch up and do some homework on the shape of things to come. Here is a quick primer on The Minerva Project and their book, ‘Building the Intentional University’.

The Minerva Project in Brief.

I meet a lot of folks in education innovation and technology, Presidents and Vice Chancellors, education ministers and most importantly professors, teachers and students who believe Higher Education is in crisis. They argue it is too expensive, ineffective, and impractical for many of the world’s students.

But how would you reinvent higher education for the twenty-first century — how would you build higher education from the ground up?

Many have speculated about changing higher education, but Minerva has actually created a new kind of university program. Ben and the team raised the funding, devised the curriculum and pedagogy, recruited the students, hired the faculty, and implemented a bold vision of a new and improved higher education experience (and outcomes).

The Minerva curriculum focuses on “practical knowledge” (knowledge students can use to adapt to a changing world); its pedagogy is based on scientific research on learning; it uses a novel technology platform to deliver small seminars in real time; and it offers a hybrid residential model where students live together, rotating through seven cities around the world. Minerva equips students with the cognitive tools they need to succeed in the world after graduation, building the core competencies of critical thinking, creative thinking, effective communication, and effective interaction.

For all the entrepreneurs and founders aspiring to help transform the way the world learns, I urge you to make a small investment in yourself, your team and your startup by reading this book. You will be inspired and at the very least save yourself a few years and many dollars, not to mention more deeply understanding higher education.

For all my academic colleagues, I can’t wait to hear your take on a sweeping idea and a blueprint for transforming higher education. We all want to see universities and learners thrive through the 21st century and Minerva’s book is a fantastic provocation for how we might make this happen.