Sphere College Project

A New World of Learning


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The Time is Right

Education and freedom in America have done marvelous things:  cured diseases, put a man on the moon (Yeah, I know — cliché — sorry. But you have to admit that this really is astounding.), created the Internet, … well, a lot of wonderful things.

But they have also done some less-than-marvelous things: produced influential individuals who, for whatever reason, believed that torture is not only ok, but is good for the U.S. And they were unwilling to participate in an open and honest discussion about the validity of their views. And we as a nation (I include myself in this, of course) did not (peacefully) force them to. This, to me, seems to be a rather monumental failure of our system of higher education.

Another, more recent example, (skip this paragraph if you’ve had enough) is the fact that our system not only produced, but for decades fully supported, an individual who perpetrated a staggeringly huge fraud (to the tune of $50B) while those who should have been in a position to ensure such a thing never happens (that is, all of us) missed all the warning signs. Need I go on?  I think not.

The question before us is: What are we collectively going to do now? Is it going to be good for humanity, and is it going to be sustainable?

I certainly don’t purport to have the answer, although I have some personal opinions. It is hard for me to imagine, however, that providing free, extremely high-quality education for adults would do anything other than help lead to a reasonably good collective answer. It seems, as a side benefit, that it would also be good for the U.S. economy — and that of the world — in the process.

This is why I’m working extremely hard to make Sphere College a reality as soon as possible. I’m certain it’s going to happen — the only question is “When?”. It seems to me that sooner is far better than later. Why am I in such a hurry? I’m so glad you asked…

  • I believe the economy is probably going to get worse before it gets better, but that eventually it *will* get better. While it’s getting better I would like to see people gaining the skills to help them understand the world around them and prepare for the coming economy.
  • I already mentioned this in a previous post, but… there’s a lot of money coming down the pike for education in the stimulus package. Sphere College could put some of that money to very good use, but needs to be able to demonstrate this before being awarded any funds. That means we have to move very quickly: right now, today.
  • Education can and should be fun, and people can stand to have some good, healthy fun these days.

Now, I’m happy to report a number of very positive developments in the College:

  • About 23 students signed up now.
  • Five area businesses and organizations are offering free use of their space for classes (In order of appearance): Steel City, Wolfgang Books, Artisan’s Cafe, Griffins Gallery and CC-OIC.
  • Chester County Life is planning an article in their July/Aug issue focusing on Phoenixville.
  • A documentary film is in the works. Ellen Reynolds, documentary filmmaker and member of the UPenn faculty is acting as Technical Consultant.
  • I have two interns lined up, one of whom (Abby) is starting right away. It seems likely that several more may be coming aboard as well. This is going to help *enormously*, and I believe it will also be a great experience for them.
  • I am meeting in the very near future with influential members of the business and political community.
  • Lindsey Stone completed the design of my business cards (many thanks, Lindsey — very nice work!), so I actually have something to hand to people now.
  • There was so much interest in the college from students younger than 21 that I’m working with Orion Communities and other entities to start a pre-college division.

So sure, this is a huge, very daunting project and I do get exhausted from time to time. But the words of support (and actual effort) I get from so many people *really* help to keep me going. I can’t say this enough: thank you.

I look forward to reporting many more positive developments in the next installment. Until then, I am

Yours optimistically,

Richard