Why Give a Damn:

There’s an unexpected revolution in higher education growing every day that will shape the course of history in the 21st Century. Read on to learn more.

The author of this post, Eric Glustrom, is an Unreasonable mentor and the founder of Watson University and Educate!

There’s a profound revolution happening
in colleges and universities.  Tweet This Quote

Tune in to a conversation about higher education today and you’re sure to hear about MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) that enroll tens of thousands of students from across the world, all for free. There’s no doubt the internet has the potential to disrupt higher education as it did the publishing industry, or political leadership in the Arab world, by delivering access to information and democracy. Yet there’s another revolution happening in colleges and universities that is potentially more profound.

This revolution is not just about putting higher education as we know it online, it’s about re-imagining the very purpose of the university.

In late February, 650 people from 40 countries representing 150 institutions of higher education descended on the Ashoka U Exchange hosted by Brown University. Participants included university presidents, professors, students, and social entrepreneurs. They wanted to learn how higher education can help students develop as change-makers, entrepreneurs, and innovators.

Tuition and fees for higher education have increased 12-fold in the last 35 years.  Tweet This Quote

Just six years ago, the Ashoka U Exchange included 40 people; now it’s at 650 and growing. That’s a 1,600 percent rate of growth and a telltale sign of the consumer demand for a smart alternative to higher education. Tuition and fees have increased 12-fold over the last 35 years and student loan debt in the U.S. is now greater than both auto and credit card debt. But the demand for Ashoka U represents the need for an educational experience that is not only affordable, but also equips students with the ability to solve climate change, poverty, and rethink the systems that make up society in order to lead us forward into a sustainable future.

Universities must evolve into communities where students create solutions to the world’s toughest challenges alongside peers, leading mentors, entrepreneurs, thinkers, and practitioners from around the world. Why? So they may learn to design and develop ideas to help make the world a better place—from entrepreneurial ventures to research projects and everything in between.

Universities must evolve into communities where students create solutions to the world’s toughest challenges.  Tweet This Quote

It is for these reasons I founded Watson University. Watson is working to realize this new vision for higher education—a vision built on the belief that we can design a better model of higher education that doesn’t leave students on the day they graduate with tens of thousands of dollars of debt, little direction, few relevant skills, and only a lamb-skin degree to show for it.

Watson University is a new university model in Boulder, Colorado for change makers aged 18-23 year old.
Fifteen carefully selected Watson scholars have the chance to learn from mentors like Jerry White, who helped lead the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and co-received the Nobel Peace Prize. They will apply the skills of empathy, grit, bootstrapping, team-building, fundraising, and human centered design to their ideas to solve the toughest challenges the world faces.

We can design a better model of higher education that doesn’t leave students in debt, with little direction and few relevant skills.  Tweet This Quote

Watson scholars are not only entrepreneurs, but all types of change-makers, from poets to policy advocates. The result is deep peer-to-peer learning and collaboration. In our first semester, over 75% of Watson Scholars who were searching for funding received funding while at Watson; 88% were connected to new partner organizations, and all Scholars came away with a new network of world-class mentors.

Watson is currently accepting applications for the Fall 2014 semester. We are searching the earth for 15 of the world’s most promising young change-makers aged 18-23 who will convene to a beautiful campus in Chautauqua Park nestled against the mountains of Boulder, Colorado. We provide full and partial scholarships as well as innovative financial assistance through a partnership with Upstart.

Luckily, Watson isn’t standing alone. Ashoka U works closely with a network of over 20 Change-maker Campuses from Brown to Tulane. Each of these campuses and programs like Watson are re-thinking the university for today’s world. As a result of this unexpected revolution, the university experience is beginning to look very different. By the end of this decade we envision a powerful force of graduates equipped to solve the challenges that will determine the course of history in the 21st Century.

We envision a powerful force of graduates solving the biggest challenges of the 21st Century.  Tweet This Quote

Eric Glustrom

Author Eric Glustrom

Eric Glustrom is the founder of Watson University and Educate!—two sister organizations transforming education worldwide. Recognized as an Ashoka Fellow, Echoing Green Fellow, and one of Forbes’ 30 social entrepreneurs under 30, Eric’s work is driven by a simple belief: to solve the toughest challenges facing humanity, the place to start is within the hearts and minds of the next generation.

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