Communities around the globe organized to empower individuals to work in fields they are passionate about and inspired by – a world where all individuals “live their gifts,” for the raising-up of humanity.
The Sphere College Project provides discovery and higher education to adults of all ages and means, in a friendly, face-to-face environment through a network of skilled and experienced community mentors. At Sphere College Project, participants discover and pursue their passion and vocation for their own enrichment as well as that of the community, and participate equally to mentors and employees in steering the project’s success. Sphere values diversity, inclusivity, togetherness, communication, mutual respect for ideas and creativity, training, tools, and empowerment by creating an atmosphere of shared learning and investment in success. We believe that every individual has the ability to make a unique and positive impact in the community, and that our entire community benefits by educational programs that meet the unique and ever-shifting needs of its members.
The Sphere College Project provides guidance about life-path along with college-level programs by expert community mentors for adults of any age who, at any given time, or for any given reason, are not a good fit for today’s traditional higher education models.
The essential idea behind the project is to create an institution of higher learning that not only helps participants learn and develop tools but also supports them to identify what they wish to accomplish with their lives. Participants work closely with mentors (faculty) to identify key strengths and interests and to build an individualized, interdisciplinary program of study directly connected with their goals. Once participants have gained enough experience in the class setting, they are charged with developing and realizing a project that puts their passions into action in a specified community using the skills they have acquired. The project, which can be seen as an equivalent to an active dissertation, may be small and local, or large and global in scope.
The Sphere College Project is available to any adult, regardless of financial means. Participation is determined individually, based on a number of factors, and maintained through a contribution of time, money, and/or energy, depending on personal circumstances. Sphere is dedicated to an environment where everyone’s contributions are personally elevating, supportive of the Project’s goals, and are valued equally.
Picture this, first in the short-run, then, in the longer range:
- 100 participants, and 15 mentors (and growing) with a diverse knowledge base and a passion for making a difference in people’s lives.
- Core and specialty classes offer a variety of topics in several different locations, including in Sphere’s main headquarters in Asheville.
- Participants and mentors gather in small groups, discussing topics from their classes, fostering a strong learning community.
- Participants, mentors, and Sphere staff working together to develop community outreach initiatives, along with partnership strategies with local organizations and businesses to grow and fortify Asheville’s workforce.
- Participants, mentors, and Sphere staff connect with Asheville’s city representatives to reinforce the value of an integrated and united community, recognizing that when we care for everyone, we are ensuring a social structure that is not only sustainable, but inspiring and harmonious, with respect for everyone.
- Under the mentorship of faculty members and local community leaders, participants identifying and pursuing their passions and becoming leaders, or contributors, in community-enhancing projects like community gardens and youth education activities and events.
- The College Project taking on projects that will financially sustain it and help it to grow, and continuing to unfold in a way that serves the entire population of Asheville and the community, at large.
- Sphere College Project becomes known as the most innovative “college” in America, with the most diverse curriculum of any college, the largest number of community members served, and the largest network of part-time community-based faculty in existence.
Together, we can do this! And when we have proven its success here, our plan is to duplicate it in other communities throughout the United States, when the time is right.
What Makes The Sphere College Project Different?
The students associated with the Project discuss this question in one of our classes. See and hear what they say in this video: http://www.vimeo.com/9087364
The Sphere College Project began in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania in 2007, where it is soon to be revived. Classes have met in the Colonial Theatre,Wolfgang Books, Steel City Coffeehouse, and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. This article in the Chronicle of Higher Education from May 2011 does a good job of describing our initiative.
Currently, we are launching our initiative in Asheville, NC and are looking to secure a home, within walking distance of downtown Asheville. If you have ideas on locations that might meet our needs, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!
Sphere College Project
Email: info AT spherecollege DOT org
THE SPHERE COLLEGE PROJECT IS NOT A DEGREE-GRANTING ORGANIZATION.