Grassroots higher education.
The traditional purpose of the university is to be a national resource creating knowledge and providing insights into the nature of the world. To achieve this end universities have offered vocational training, but only as a component of thinking more deeply about what is true, the interconnectedness of our endeavours, and what can be done to ensure the well-being of individuals, the nation, and the Earth.
Another crucial purpose of the university is the forming of bonds among a community of deep thinkers who care about the world and its future. The dialogues among academics of goodwill are meant to evolve thought and thereby achieve enlightened solutions and enlightened action. The results of these dialogues are then to be shared freely, communicating to raise awareness and further the dialogue.
What universities are currently losing is a sense of community. Academic goodwill and mutual support is the bedrock upon which everything else is built. When universities become simple educational assembly lines meant to supply cogs for large corporate machines, our society loses its self-awareness and its way.
What Friends Institute aims to do is bring back higher education as collaborative community, thereby returning to some of our traditional purpose. From that base we then seek to be a resource that helps to look after the well-being of this planet and all living beings upon it.
Friends university has five major objectives driving our goals.
|Caring||Engaging in the life-affirming is core to this institute. It is what caring is all about. We will teach life-affirming thoughtfulness, and demonstrate life-affirming action.|
|We care about the well-being of our students: their intellectual, emotional, and physical health.|
|We care about the well being of our community, society, the world and the environment.|
|We care about the quality of the education we are supplying, and especially the values that are forming that education.|
|We care about the quality of research we are performing, ensuring that it is as free from vested interests as possible and provides life-affirming results of the highest ethical integrity.|
|Cooperating||We seek to train and nurture students and staff in methods of successfully cooperating with one another, forming bonds that will assist them throughout life.|
|We seek to ensure multi-disciplinary cooperation to further a culture rich in ideas and solutions.|
|We seek to support our community by cooperating with those individuals, groups, and institutions who could benefit from our activities.|
|We seek to form relationships with other concerned individuals around the world to help better our collective future.|
|New understandings and insights.|
|New meaningful, emotional, and aesthetic experiences.|
|Sharing||We seek to share our knowledge, insights, experiences, skills, and tools in order to be a resource for the betterment of society and the creation of a peaceful and sustainable world.|
Our focus is to form a reliable community of students and educators who together can turn this institute into a non-profit grassroots higher education cooperative, which will serve its members and the broader community. Universities cannot fully serve their community when they are simply businesses through which an administration is turning a profit.
Certainly any institution needs an amount of money in our culture to function. However when a school is run by business people, the resulting goals strip humanity from both students and lecturers. The school is no longer about universal betterment, but the financial betterment of a few.
Lecturers need to own their institutions, because it is their work that makes a university. You can take away the buildings, you can take away the management, so long as there is even one teacher—you have a school.
Students need to own their higher education, because it represents their future. People have said, how can students possibly manage that kind of responsibility? The answer is: they will learn through their experiences with Friends Institute and other similar institutions. Schools must teach students how to be empowered, how to make thoughtful decisions, how to cooperate, how to be creative, and how to be responsible. At some point they need to know how to take the reins of the future and drive us to a better world.
Friends Institute will begin by offering courses in the humanities and open source computing. Both of these fields rely heavily on collaboration. One provides tools, one uses tools and communicates their value. The humanities are also an important part of helping people to bond through shared emotional experiences and thereby raising our shared values. We also plan to teach people in how to found their own non-profit cooperative ventures.