My Vision for a new university would be a combination of the current university instruction approach in concert with empirical learning. There would be core academic topics that each student would have to master. Students would be presented with modified teaching materials that promoted openness and acceptance of controversial results. The curriculum would present multiple theories that explain the same phenomena/observations, and the advantages/disadvantages would be discussed for each theory.
Each theory would be accompanied by their supporting data and assertions. The student would not be required to accept mainstream accepted theories as immutable doctrine, and in fact would be encouraged to “find his own truth”.
After students learned the core material, they would be required to create demonstrations to validate their knowledge. The need for tangible experiences to provide feedstock for their creativity database is a key tenet. The next requirement is that all students must possess a certain baseline of hands-on technical skills. In order to promote building prototypes and new experimental setups, the students must be instructed in machining and fabrication skills. There would have to be an on-site machine shop, and workspaces allotted to students for assembly of their projects.
Because the university is being founded to teach ideas counter to mainstream science, the first course that students will take is a history of science as a discipline. This will include historical re-examination of past scientific organizations that opposed new scientific discoveries [Earth is round]. In addition, it will be examined what social conditions caused this opposition by the establishment, the detriments and impedance this had to advancement of knowledge, and potential solutions for mitigating future “suppression” – by defenders of accepted knowledge. Explored will be the insecurities that cause otherwise intellectual people to subvert the science discipline, and some possible remedies to this opposition. The existing social limitations are as big an impediment to new advances in the sciences as are the current technological limitations.
After the students have completed training in the core material and gained the required hands-on competencies, now is where the university starts to create its own body of work. This will occur twofold:
- Experimentation and Testing: The students will now choose a core scientific principle to demonstrate, and improve upon any currently available demonstration. This can be a complete redesign, a modernization of archaic demonstrations, or improved measurement techniques. The experiments must include baseline testing data from the demonstration apparatus, detailed procedure to allow for replication, materials used and measurement methods, summary of findings, and a list of next steps and possible improvements. These “knowledge exhibitions” are to be performed in front of the rest of the students, sharing the experience with the student body and also giving the presenter valuable presentation skills. Different theories can be explored to explain the experimental observations taken.
- Vetting of Outside Technology Submissions: The goal would be to create a pipeline with a large number of inventors submitting devices that they are unable to build, but have solid theoretical basis for its operation, and need a prototype built to test the design. Essentially this university would become the foremost authority on exotic devices. There would be formal reports documenting the device, how it is made, proposed claims, a disciplined testing procedure, testing results and data evaluation, and finally conclusions about the functioning of the device.
Core Research and Experiments
The science based curriculum would be the most difficult to put together. The main difficulty is this: there is no repository (that I know of) right now that is aware of all, or even a majority, of non-conventional phenomena that would be suitable for instruction at the university. It would probably take a search of internet forums, consulting leaders in non-conventional or free-energy science, visiting all sorts of people across the country/world to even begin to establish a significant index of the potential things to teach. Then there is the complication of being able to master and recreate the anomalous phenomena consistently. It would be wise to visit each discoverer and learn the nuances of the effects. There may be some things that require the building of specialized apparatus. Basically we would be creating the definitive storehouse of non-conventional physics
- Cross disciplinary approaches to problems
- Effective skills for working in groups
- Accurate measurement techniques
- Common Principals of nature
- Problem mapping and solution skills
This area probably wouldn’t be as difficult, as I’m sure plenty of material could be found that details the techniques for these skills, but experts would have to be hired. I feel like it would take more than psychologists/sociologists to create the curriculum however; concepts such as learning intuition, finding one’s life purpose, and contemplating the impacts of one’s actions on the world seem to have a somewhat new age/spiritual connotation, and would likely require very specific people to teach.
Of all the obstacles, putting together the curriculum is the most difficult, but it is certainly do-able. It would be an education not available anywhere else in the world that’s for sure! And it would be something that contributes to the betterment of the world with every graduate. I see it as an excellent area worthy of investing effort into, but the compilation of the curriculum is a major challenge.
My vision of the university would consist of teaching in a three phase approach:
- Presentation of teaching materials
- Demonstration workshops
- Experimentation and Testing Laboratories
- Brainstorming new ideas that improve the current experimental setup, followed by constructive group discussion and evaluation of ideas.
The current educational paradigm uses the issuance of grades to assess student abilities as well as to motivate student performance. This practice has been accepted without question, but needs review. The use of grades to judge academic achievement has a serious flaw: it places the focus on getting a good grade rather than a good education. For this reason grades will not be used. The shocking realization will manifest: “I actually have to learn this stuff!” The student has to realize his education is his responsibility, which is more than just a grade, and he will be at a disadvantage if he doesn’t properly learn the curriculum. [See: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance]. Certainly there will be tests and incorrect answers will be marked, but no grades will be issued. If the student isn’t motivated to acquire his own education what is he doing at a university? Certainly if a student is falling behind there will be an intervention by both students and professors to see what the best solution is. Learning will be more teamwork oriented rather than individually oriented.
Because of the numerous new skills and concepts to be taught at this university, it would be a heavy burden on the university to also provide a conventional college education as background material. This would have to be done before being able to cover recent advances and ideas. For instance it would not make sense to teach Circuit Analysis or Physics 101 at this new university, that education can be acquired at a variety of other institutions. Therefore it would be advantageous to require a certain level of existing education before enrolling as a student of this new university. Accordingly, the new university can place its focus on delivering its specialized topics. This pre-existing education need not necessarily come from a higher learning institution, it could also be self taught, work experience, or otherwise, so long as the student already has some foundational basics with which to contrast new topics against.
Presentation of Teaching Materials
The different subject materials presented would each focus on a specific core research topic. As the university progressed sub-core research topics would be presented as well.
The presentation of the subject would highlight natural phenomenon and provide pertinent real-world examples to give a reference framework. Then observations would be presented that have already been made by scientists during research into this topic. This step is the differentiator from other teaching practices; this is the presentation of different theories to explain the same observations. Each theory will have the following:
- List of each theory’s supporting observations/information
- List of observations/information that does not fit theory or needs to be explained or further examined
- Limitations of the theory
- What the theory interprets correctly and what it fails to interpret correctly
This is meant to present the student an option of which theory makes the most sense to them. If the student does not agree with any of the theories presented, this would represent a deficiency in the current understanding of a core topic and an area for investigation.
The current orthodox theories would be included, as well as their predecessors, and contested alternatives. The purpose is to promote critical thinking and problem solving, not rote memorization and conformance to conventional ideas.
The textbook will also include a flowchart and timeline of how we arrived at the current orthodox theories. The flowchart will highlight significant experiments, their observations and the conclusions that were drawn. It will also inform the student how those conclusions were addressed by other theories. Dissenting opinions of the theory must be presented as well.
It is important for the student to understand the societal factors that influenced science as well. This will involve providing adequate back story as to why there was acceptance of theories that were still contested and did not adequately explain observations.
To gain deeper understanding it is very important to have firsthand experience of phenomena as much as possible, particularly with phenomena that is counter to conventional science. Demonstrations will accompany each core research topic. The demonstrations will display behaviors that are to be observed and contemplated. No theories or hypotheses are made initially by the student; instead the focus is on witnessing the phenomena, taking careful measurements, and recording the data. Since demonstrations are simply well practiced experiments, it is important that each student is able to recreate the demonstration for his/her himself. This will develop their technical abilities of fabricating tangible equipment. It will also develop their attention to detail and troubleshooting skills when recreating a demonstration. The practice of forcing students to produce real experimental devices mirrors what happens in industry: building something that works! A completely new depth of comprehension is acquired when students construct a functioning piece of demonstration equipment. Understanding the underlying mechanics of how something works is the first step to improving upon it.
Experimentation and Testing Laboratories
This also serves as a form of continuous improvement because there may be enhanced demonstrations that the students can develop. Also this is the opportunity to begin making hypotheses about the phenomenon they have observed in the demonstration. Is there a way to measure the effect? Are there better experiments that could lead to better understanding of the observations?
Experimenting and Testing is one of the most important aspects of this new university. In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s nothing was “figured out” and there were new findings, new observations, new experiments being presented very frequently. This gave rise to very intelligent people designing experiments to create, leverage, and enhance observed phenomenon. Since there was no “standard body of knowledge” yet, there was openness to scientific discovery. Creativity, attention to detail, intuition, and insight into nature’s fundamental principles were key assets to scientific advancement.
Books to read and be part of the curriculum
The Fourth Phase of Water – Gerald Pollack
Thunderbolts of the Gods – David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill
The Electric Universe – David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill
The compiling and coalescing of material to create the curriculum will be a large undertaking