London is awash with great culture - museums, free lectures, art galleries, concerts. The internet is bursting with free lectures from the best thinkers of today. Loads of academics want to share their knowledge with a wider audience. Could we use these plentiful cultural resources to create an exciting learning experience - a high quality humanities course at no cost to the student? Why not? That is what IF does.
WHAT WE WILL ACHIEVE WITH YOUR SUPPORT
Your support will enable us to launch the IF project with a Summer School in May/June 2014. What we learn from this three-week pilot will be crucial for developing our first year-long course which we hope to open to students in late 2014.
OUR INNOVATIVE MODEL
By drawing on existing resources, online and real-world, IF will offer courses at no cost to the student.
Our courses will
- Seek out the best online lectures from internationally acclaimed academics to become part of our syllabus
- Use London as a giant lecture-hall by guiding students to events and cultural institutions (exhibitions, lunchtime concerts, lectures, etc) relevant to their course
- Bring together a network of academics and thinkers to lead weekly workshops, lectures and seminars with IF students
Studying history, the arts, languages, other cultures, philosophy, music etc used to be an achievable objective for school-leavers from a range of backgrounds, and the grounding on which they could base diverse careers and lives. Today, these humanities subjects risk becoming an education only for the wealthy. The current political emphasis on the future salary advantages of university degrees, coupled with fear of debt, risks pushing school-leavers to opt only for vocational courses.
HUMANITIES - AN EDUCATION WORTH HAVING
We believe access to education is a human right. Studying the humanities is how people get to think about and discuss the big ideas of the day: democracy, identity, beauty, truth, love, death, war. Giving young people this opportunity will enrich their lives and benefit society as a whole.
Our introductory courses in subjects such as history, philosophy, music and the visual arts will cover the core principles of each discipline. Students will develop the capacity to be creative and critical; discover tools for textual, visual and musical analysis and understand the basics of ethical and rational thinking. Such skills will give them the tools to be involved and informed citizens, workers and decision-makers.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT IF
"The arts and humanities are a necessity, not a luxury. This inspired idea will put culture back at the heart of education." Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN
"Soon the only students of the liberal arts will be the sons and daughters of the very rich... I welcome this initiative to involve young Londoners in securing a basic humanities education." Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College, Oxford University, and former editor of The Observer newspaper
"When governments think a subject is not worth studying unless it contributes directly to economic growth, an initiative that makes disciplines such as history and philosophy more widely accessible must be welcomed." Peter Wilby, former editor of The Independent on Sunday and of the New Statesman
"IF is an alternative kind of higher education.. it is a recognition that the education machine no longer serves the economy, employers, social justice or those pre-programmed for the scrapheap." Mary Riddell, The Daily Telegraph, 21 January 2014
"When only the children of the rich can afford to study the humanities we have lost all claim to be a civilised society. I welcome this project." Nick Cohen, columnist and author of What's Left and You Can't Read This Book
NOT JUST ANOTHER MOOC
The mass open online course (MOOC) movement has grown extensively in recent years and made freely available online a wealth of excellent academic material. But its users do not necessarily have a collegiate experience or the social excitement of intellectual discussion. IF will direct students to the best online material and provide weekly opportunities for the kind of face-to-face debate that has been at the heart of a university education for centuries.
JOIN THE IF PROJECT
Academics - Join our growing team of thinkers, lecturers, tutors and mentors. We are asking for a small shard of time from the many rather than a lot of time from the few.
Institutional Partners - If you'd like to bring IF students through your lecture theatres, concert halls, museums etc, we are looking for partnerships and sponsors.
Under 30s - If you are interested in the humanities but don't want to commit to three years and £50,000 worth of debt, IF could be for you. Get in touch and we will keep you informed of course opportunities. Tell your friends and become backers if you can.
Everybody - Help us bring this Free University about by becoming a backer, big backer, champion, patron, or even sponsor!
JUST THE BEGINNING
We hope one day that there will be many more free universities like IF. Your support will push forward the idea of communities of free humanities studies. Thank you for reading and please spread the word!
SELECTED BY THE RSA
IF is proud to be featured on the RSA curated area on Kickstarter, which selects the best new ideas to help tackle social problems that its 27,000 Fellows are looking to deliver. IF Co-Founder Jonny Mundey is an RSA Fellow and has been selected to be a part of this. Click here to see more RSA-backed projects and find out more about the RSA.
Got more questions? Check out our website or ask away below.
Risks and challenges
A NOTE ON SUSTAINABILITY
Our business model is lean. We use low-cost or no-cost resources and are determined to keep our courses free to students. As we mention above we are committed to following the Humanities Summer School that your support will fund by launching our year-long introductory course in the humanities (H101). However, the core costs involved in administrating future courses such as H101 are beyond the scope of the funding we are raising through this campaign. We will build on this campaign to seek and secure funding from sponsors, and trusts and foundations to cover these costs. We are also exploring the possibility of a series of ticketed big-name IF lectures in the public understanding of the humanities, as a revenue stream to support future IF courses. We see the sustainability of IF as a challenge that can absolutely be achieved, with this campaign as the launchpad for that. Thank you for your support.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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