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Preliminary Prospectus:




Please return comments and suggestions to:

    Project Renaissance, Box 332

    Gaithersburg, MD 20884-0332


Come join us in creating Renaissance University







Photo courtesy of Elan Sun Star
Photo courtesy of Elan Sun Star





It has been the dream of some of us, for more than a third of a century, to create the first of a new kind of university.


·         A university in which all participants can actualize a far greater proportion of their intellectual and human abilities.


·         A university whose practices reflect that vast majority of scientific findings about the human brain and mind and about human learning, performance and productivity, which have emerged over the past several decades but which have not found their way into standard classroom practice.


·         A university where enough of the right things are done together to make a meaningful human difference.


·         A university whose people are stimulated and encouraged to help initiate a new renaissance in science, culture and the arts.


·         A university which, in a changing world society and economy, will create and graduate not narrowly-based specialists but true masters of several fields simultaneously, true Renaissance men and women—polymaths who can not only navigate readily the sea-changes now running in both science and the economy, but take brilliant advantage of the synthesis and productive isomorphisms to be found between disciplines.


During that third of a century we have been finding—and sometimes creating—the best methods and techniques on Earth for learning, teaching, training, and for human growth and development. Each of these makes a major positive human difference, and positive change in educational and intellectual outcomes. Some of these methods are rooted in the time-honored Socratic Method, now finally understood after twenty-two centuries.


We had thought to share some or all of these methods freely and widely with many existing schools at all educational levels. We found, instead, rigid and ill institutions generally unable—or at best unwilling—to test and use even the simplest and most obvious of these, regardless of immediate and long-term and in some instances well-demonstrated benefits. These "institutions of learning" and school systems have treated our suggestions and proposals the way they have treated the positive sound suggestions and proposals of practically everyone else who had anything to offer. We salute the few, courageous, outstanding exceptions. We think there is still positive opportunity for major useful positive cooperative endeavor, very good things which can be done in existing colleges and universities and high schools, and in major technical and scientific corporations.


Should some existing college or university undertake to not only test 1-2 of our Project Renaissance educational methods but to test enough of them together to make a significant human difference: we could still swing our efforts back from creating a new university to help make that existing university the finest school on the planet. Past a certain point, however, it is more practical to continue our efforts to create a new university altogether. We will nevertheless, even past that point, willingly help existing colleges and universities and schools to improve their own educational outcomes, even while we go hard to work to produce our own.


Starting a new school is an effort and endeavor not lightly undertaken. Had other schools actually lived up to their own rhetoric, especially as regards quality teaching and learning, that would have contented us.  But schools have not exactly been lining up to seek out and adapt the best available methods of teaching and learning, whether ours or anybody else's.  For such methods—and all that they can mean to the human condition— to be actualized, a new and model institution is required.


A working new model is required as soon as possible. Many independent observers see existing schools and school systems slipping toward cascading difficulties. As do we in Project Renaissance, who have been working to head that cascade off (see “The Shape of Things to Come”). Good working alternative models need to be visibly in place soon, to provide visible and viable options should the main system falter.  In any event, when learners can with appropriate methods make many times finer progress than by the methods now in standard practice, to not pursue the appropriate methods by whatever venue and with whatever expedition would be an unconscionable waste, on both practical and human bases.


To start a new school is a herculean endeavor facing extraordinary challenges. Many of those challenges will be gratuitous; some will be disingenuous; a few will actually be germane and appropriate. It'd be so much easier to sit back and just write some more books. The need, however, is too compelling and too urgent.  It is also too great for us to handle alone. We need you to make this your university, not only ours. Other individuals in many roles and capacities, and other groups and organizations with well-founded visions of their own, are essential to this very challenging effort.



Why a University?


George Crile, in his A Naturalistic View of Man, argued that a good nursery school is far more important to one's life, more formative and enriching, than is a good college. He is correct. But launching a university lets us address education at all levels, via a brace of laboratory schools. Further, the current form of at least the Project Renaissance methods, part of the starting-up core of what will be used in the University, are presently best developed at adult, collegiate and secondary levels and so can make their readiest contribution at those levels. Moreover, it will be easier to learn from our students and peers at collegiate level in a healthy egalitarian milieu, and to avoid the stultifying authoritarian structures which prevail elsewhere.


Virtually all of this present Prospectus will revolve around very positive considerations, description of one ingenious feature after another which will render Renaissance University one of the best possible learning experiences to be found anywhere on Earth. In this Prologue we did need to take into account the degree of challenge awaiting us in the task ahead. We enter this with our eyes open. We also enter this with some sense of urgency, given the current state of educational affairs and the situation of priceless human beings caught up in those arrangements. We also still have out a standing invitation to existing institutions of learning, at all levels, to explore happier and higher ranges of learning achievement than you are presently finding in most of your classrooms.  YOURS can be one of the finest learning experiences on Earth. Many of our proffered methods are yours for free on the Net and with them you can, if you care to, achieve extraordinary things.


But we can no longer wait for you to get around to doing so.


Renaissance University can be founded as early as June 2015—with partners and considerable help—or as late as 2025, if need be by Project Renaissance on its own.  Here is some of what we intend for this university.......



Photography courtesy of Elan Sun Star
Photography courtesy of Elan Sun Star



The General Program of Renaissance University


Renaissance University is to be a graduate and undergraduate, multi-campus, multi-national, degree-granting liberal arts university. While operating independently, once established and demonstrating its main programs, this University also intends where possible to form alliances with existing universities. Renaissance University will be residential but will also feature, and likely build from, a strong distance-learning program.


Renaissance University will also host many topical symposia on the frontiers of scientific and academic inquiry. These will be an important and extensive feature of our instructional program. This will also help us engage many leaders at the top of their respective fields as visiting faculty.


Because our instructional methods make it possible, our students will also fully participate in these symposia with their own original and well-considered research, as part of a program wherein they will become professionally published in the fields into which they will soon graduate. Special formatting will make these symposia uniquely productive—and attractive to those cutting-edge top-of-the-field leaders.Formats will include certain forms of colloquium structure, and also the structures developed by Project Renaissance in its own annual conferences.


In each site where Renaissance University can establish a strong residential program, it intends to cultivate an atmosphere and custom and practice, year-around, closely corresponding to the best aspects and best years of the annual ten-day Creative Problem-Solving Institute in its earlier (1970s-'80s) form held by the Creative Education Foundation. For the most part, elements which favor a flowering of creativity also favor a flowering of learning, and vice-versa.


Uniquely equipped with the best methods of instruction and human development, Renaissance University from the onset will aim for the very highest standards of intellectual achievement. Early on, we intend for its graduates to compete successfully with the graduates of Ivy League schools, Berkeley and the University of Chicago. When one considers how much value each of those schools has added to national and world culture and the economy, our success in this—made possible by our instructional methods—is a win for everyone. As the program gathers strength, our intention is to raise those standards even higher.


Yet at the same time and to the extent possible, Renaissance University will also pursue a relatively open-door policy and a very low failure rate, though we do recognize legitimacy of universities' roles as gate-keepers as well as instructional institutions and research institutions. What will make possible such a relatively open-door policy and low failure rate while pursuing such high standards, is not only our instructional methods but a very strong program for neurological, intellectual and human development.


(Small examples of one, Socratic, aspect of our instructional methods are found in St. Andrew's Country Day School Test Results and The Bottom Line re: Teaching and Learning, among other articles on this web site. See also our maieutic version of Socratic Method.)

Full-time students, especially in the liberal arts program, our degree candidates, and many in the community will be pursuing closely monitored and intense developmental programs and practices under personal contract. Staff and faculty and part-time students will also be encouraged to pursue such programs. We will not waste the time and energies of our academic faculty whom we intend to be top quality: by the time a student enters their classes, s/he will be fully competent to function there. We will maintain a second tier of special-purpose classes and community classes for part-time students, however, open to people not already qualified through the developmental programs, where we will rely on the strength of our instructional methods and of our instructors.





It is our intent that no one campus becomes so large as to lose its sense of community.  Our current thinking is that this may set the upper limits between five hundred and a thousand full-time students per campus, and this is likely to be in the neighborhood of where we actually set our limits as we gain experience with the program. Yet for pursuit of diverse unique and highly specialized studies, the advantages of a much larger university are clear. We intend to enjoy the advantages of both, via the following provisions:


1) We intend to form working alliances with other universities in and around the community.


2) We intend to form multiple campuses within the one community, differentiated by content, style, ideology, method and educational theory, and in a friendly competition with each other.


3) We intend to develop campuses of Renaissance University in multiple locations around the country and in different countries and cultures around the world.


4) Besides developing our own distance-learning resources, we will supply our own instructional tools to and facilitate courses in much of the extraordinary wealth of distance-learning instructional resources now and soon existing.


With regard to #3, where will these different sites be, and where will the initial—and presumably headquarterssite be?  We have been looking at several locations, including the Washington, D.C., area near where Project Renaissance is presently located, but we are approaching this question opportunistically. These campuses, and our initial campus, could be placed in a lot of very different possible locations, inside or outside of the United States, and we will welcome offers and suggestions.


With regard to #4, the main thing lacking from present distance-learning courses is having several students at each computer terminal, cued to interact face to face before they have to, between them, generate a joint response to key questions in the lesson. One of the starting-up strategies through which we will approach the founding of Renaissance University is the anticipated starting-up date of year 2015, but we think other groups and programs will rise to the opportunity to help create this extraordinary university, whose help will enable its creation much sooner. In any event, these specialized education-related services, both before and following creation of Renaissance University, will be a valuable contribution ongoing in the locations where they are provided.



Launch Strategies:


There are many ways in which the launching of Renaissance University might be achieved. One of the easier possible tracks under review is to create, one by one, a curriculum of courses for distance-learning, modeling our instructional methods and requiring joint study with another student or students as learning partners; together with adapting some existing distance-learning courses which we would then provide through a facilitation service as mentioned above. Students with these courses would initially have the option of taking, at the end of each course, and retraining coursework where necessary, old forms of the CLEP tests until performing at or above the 95% level, then standing for examination for advanced placement in an existing university of choice which makes that provision in its catalog. They would also have the option of obtaining a specialized certificate for successful completion of that course, not to be confused with a degree, until Renaissance University itself is created with degree-granting powers.


Creating one course at a time, and creating a base to work from, would be easier than trying to launch a whole college or university at one stroke. This "curriculum," however, would not be the Renaissance University program, and would not include the supervised developmental programs which will be so important to the high achievement levels sought by the University once under way.


With the launching of the University, if this path is followed, we would attempt a round or so of summer residency featuring an upgrading of the proficiencies already built through such courses, further facilitation of more such courses, some of our various accelerated/enhanced learning procedures so the students can go on to function well in any educational setting, some of our CPS/creativity methods and practices, and some elements at least of our developmental programs.


One of the early tasks of Renaissance University will be to develop a sociology of each profession into which the University will be graduating students, and including that sociology in the instructional program of its students so that they are far better prepared to function in their chosen professions. We are well aware that a main cause of "getting fired" is failure to get along with one's co-workers and employers, and an appropriate sociology is one of several elements of intended training addressed to this point which will greatly strengthen the professional effectiveness of our graduates.



Our Product:


Renaissance University will include as appropriate various specialized programs with specialized certification and degrees not requiring all elements and standards of our arts degree programs, but the main thrust of Renaissance University will be in terms of the B.A., the M.A., and Ph.D. in the liberal arts and sciences.


A graduate with a full liberal arts degree at Renaissance University will be a Renaissance man or woman in the regard that he or she will be superbly proficient in several disciplines, not in just one narrow specialty.  They will have published professionally in one or more of the fields into which they will graduate. They will have fulfilled personal contracts in the developmental programs of Renaissance University—even entering at a high level, they will be pursuing yet higher-level goals for personal development. They will have interacted extensively with some of the world-class leaders attracted into our topical symposia. They will demonstrate a high-level proficiency in one or more fields, proficiencies that the University can fully guarantee to prospective employers and/or to other universities. Around that high-level guarantee, Renaissance University will build its program and its standing in the world community.


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