Home Education Traditional University: Page Turned, Yesterday’s Newspaper

Traditional University: Page Turned, Yesterday’s Newspaper

Prof. Gabriel Mario Rodrigues

Gabriel Mario Rodrigues – Chairman of the Board of Directors of ABMES

“You do not feel or see. But I can not help saying, my friend. That a new change will soon happen. And what for some time was young and new, today is old. And we need all to rejuvenate present, the mind, the body is different. And the past is a garment that no longer serves us.” (Belchior)

Global warming, globalization, the advances of neuroscience, technology, medicine and social psychology are stimuli to rethink not only our economic and political choices, but our whole way of acting on the world and about the world. Parodying Belchior: the models of the past no longer serve us.

In the moribund paradigm in which most nations still live, the concept of an essentially selfish man, driven by punishment and competition, is aimed at immediate profit (result), caring more about the present and neglecting/compromising countless times the future of the planet and of future generations. This concept contrasts with that of the essentially altruistic and collaborative human being, stimulated by curiosity and cooperation that the new millennium demands.

This context is not the reality of the economy alone, but of pedagogy as well. Which makes us question, once again, our role as educators.

In the twenty-first century of the information society, based on the production and dissemination of content, knowledge has been democratized, so we can have access to it in a variety of ways. This access, reachable by all, comes dethroning the university from its role of principal producer and guardian of knowledge. On the other hand, it offers it another function as noble as the previous one – that of a space for debate to deepen the knowledge that will catalyze changes in society.

In Brazil we talk a lot about innovation and that the university must worry about new models if it wants to survive, reason to offer some initiatives that break with the classic concept of university.

For Ben Nelson, creator of Minerva Schools, in partnership with the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), “universities need to stop disseminating content and charging for it. They should not create a syllabus around content, but around filters that teach how we should think the world around us.” According to him, “Instead of locking up students on campus for four years, we must put them in the world to live and learn in big cities. Instead of teaching them content that can be found in books and online courses (MOOCs), we need to use lesson time to teach and reinforce fundamental thinking concepts. We are the only university to teach students the skills that will gradually lead them to think creatively and communicate effectively. ”

Minerva Schools [1], as well as others around the world, is an alternative university that works with freer learning methods to train happy, creative, and out-of-the-box professionals.

42 [2] is a revolutionary university, without teachers, without books, without diploma and where nothing is paid. During the course, the students always work in groups and collaboratively, evaluating the works of each other. Its first campus was created in Paris in 2013 by Xavier Niel, a businessman and technology millionaire. In 2016, another campus opened in Silicon Valley, California. 42 – which aims to stimulate active rather than passive education, more common in higher education institutions – wants to receive every year 1,000 students interested in computer programming and software development.


The Alternative University [3] of Romania, founded in 2008 by young educational activists, like Minerva, aims to revolutionize education in the Eastern European country with student-centered learning. Their guiding ways are “autonomy and trust rather than control; diversity and customization rather than standardization; and critical thinking instead of indoctrination,” to help people be happy and change the world.

In order to achieve these two objectives, the University bets on four principles that conform its educational philosophy: autonomy; community and collaboration; impact on society; and learning environment.” The Alternative University “is a rich, personalized, professionally designed learning experience to provide support for the growth of young people capable of impacting society,” the official website says.

These are initiatives/experiences that can/should stimulate discussion about the role and future of our university. Henry Etzkowitz, a Stanford University researcher, argues for the triple helix concept where the university is shaped by innovative governments, high tech industries, and entrepreneurial universities.

It defines three points of what universities should look like in the future. They would have a new structure, which would unite teaching, research and entrepreneurship. Educational institutions would also function as incubators, receiving government incentives, and making investments in the creation and accommodation of startups in search of new ideas.

The university, with its eyes turned to the future, if it wants to survive, has to create challenges to the height of the complexity of the world today, motivating the student to think, to analyze and to apply creatively what he has learned.

[1] Minerva Schools at KGI is a university program that was founded in partnership between the Minerva Project and the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI), a member of the Claremont University Consortium. It offers a four-year undergraduate degree as well as a master’s degree program in science. It is a for-profit corporation that uses the technology platform on which the school operates. Minerva Schools at KGI is a non-profit institution that relies on the Minerva Project for services. The Minerva Institute for Research and Scholarships is a second non-profit organization that offers scholarships for students from the Minerva Schools, supports academic faculty research and awards the Minerva Prize for excellence in education.

Minerva’s founder, Ben Nelson, describes Minerva as “the first elite American university to be launched in a century.” Larry Summers, former President of Harvard University and Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, chaired its first advisory council, accompanied by Bob Kerrey, a former Democrat senator from Nebraska and president of the New School.

[2] 42 is a private, non-profit and free computer programming school created and funded by French billionaire Xavier Niel (founder of Illiad telecommunications company) with several partners, including Nicolas Sadirac (former Director General of Epitech School in France), Kwame Yamgnane and Florian Bucher (former executives of Epitech). The school opened in Paris in 2013.

Of the more than 80,000 applicants in France, 3,000 were selected to complete an intensive four-week computer programming bootcamp called “the swimming pool”. Anyone between 18 and 30 years old can be registered to the swimming pool after completing the logical reasoning tests on the site.

The school has no teachers, no diplomas or degrees and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Training is inspired by new, modern ways of teaching, which include peer pedagogy and project-based learning. The School has been secured by many key people in Silicon Valley, including Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Snapchat, Keyvon Beykpour, co-founder and CEO of Periscope, Stewart Butterfield, co-founder and CEO of Slack, Brian Chesky co-founder and CEO of Airbnb , Tony Fadell, founder and CEO of Nest Labs, Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter, Paul Graham, venture capitalist and co-founder of Y Combinator, venture capitalist Bill Gurley and general partner in the benchmark.

The school is a non-profit organization and is totally free, funded by billionaire Xavier Niel with hundreds of millions of dollars. All intellectual property belong to the students. 42 Silicon Valley is the American campus of 42 chartered as a nonprofit public utility corporation in the State of California and was created and funded by the same team from France as well as a new partner, the operations director of the American school. and former Paris student Brittany Bir. 42 Silicon Valley opened in the summer of 2016 in Fremont, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The name 42 is a reference to the science fiction book “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxies,” written by the British author Douglas Adams: in Book 42 is the Answer to the Final Question of Life, the Universe and All.

In addition to the two official campuses in Paris, France and Fremont, California, the school model was adopted in Lyon, France, as well as in Romania, South Africa, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Moldova, Belgium, Russia and Morocco with the help and support of 42. (Source: Wikipedia)

[3] Universitatea Alternativă is an informal education project developed by CROS – Centrul de Resursières pent Organizaţii Studenţeşti, an Education NGO in Bucharest, Romania. The project aims to provide a different learning experience focusing on the autonomy and freedom of its students.

Wishing to meet the demand for reform of the public education system in Romania, demanded by some students, a group of five students from the Politehnica University of Bucharest decided to establish CROS (which would later develop the Universitatea Alternativa) as an environment for student-led NGOs.

Currently, Universitatea Alternativa is organized into 6 learning communities: Incubatorul de Afaceri (Entrepreneurship); New Media School (Communication and Media); .edu (education); SyncerSchool (Management); HRemotion (Human Resources); and Vânzări (Sales and marketing).

Universitatea Alternativă focuses its vision on the student’s needs, allowing them to propose courses and ensuring that resources are available. All programs start from a real world model, gradually building a theoretical model, through analyzes of different situations, relevant to their students.

During a year, students embrace the values of relationship, learning, playing, sharing, and dreaming.

Despite claiming to be a university, Universitatea Alternativă is not recognized as such by the Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research of Romania, nor is it legally able to grant officially recognized diplomas of education, unlike most alternative universities worldwide. (Source: Wikipedia)