The World’s First, Global Debt-Free College Owned by Faculty and Graduates Offering EU Accredited Degrees.
Re-Define Education with GCAS
At GCAS, we are cultivating a different kind of higher educational institution, one that is not concerned with material gain, but rather making a difference first and foremost in the lives of the younger generation and for the future flourishment of all living beings in our world.
“Perhaps this is your moment to live into who you are and not what the standardized system tried to make you believe about yourself.”
GCAS was founded in 2013 by over 100 leading intellectuals, writers, philosophers, and social scientists with a two-fold aim: (a) providing students with the highest quality education at the lowest costs possible (debt-free); and (b) providing a learning environment bold enough to forge new horizons of thinking and existing in the world.
What began as a dream has developed into a global network in which hundreds of seminars, workshops, lectures, conferences and hundreds of thousands of people have engaged and extended a needed and new paradigm of thinking together, collectively.
Unique Aspects of GCAS
Online learning is the fastest growing segment of higher education. The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010, reveals that enrollment rose by almost one million students from a year earlier. The survey of more than 2500 colleges and universities nationwide finds approximately 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in Fall 2009. The 21% growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the 2% growth in the overall higher education student population. 75% of institutions report that the economic downturn over the past few years has increased demand for online courses and programmes.
GCAS’ vision is to provide a better version of higher education, challenging existing institutional structures and exorbitant costs, forcing change. Given research that shows the demand for education worldwide far exceeds the present resources to meet that demand, it is clear that we are on the cutting-edge of an educational revolution, one made possible by online technological resources combined with high quality delivery, faculty and student support. GCAS has created a low-cost, low-overhead higher educational school that will lead this revolution.
GCAS is a hybrid online/in-residence institution located in different locations around the planet. This “hybrid” model provides further opportunities to reduce overhead costs by offering courses in residence and online anywhere in the world. Over the past ten years we have offered courses or programming in multiple locations including Vancouver, Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, Denver, New York, Berlin, Havana, Athens, Slovenia, Paris and in Santiago, Chile.
Put differently, the university of the 21st century must be reimagined on all levels: architecturally, financially, ethically and pedagogically relative to the actually existing conditions on the ground from new technological developments to student financial resources, healthy business partnerships and practices and lower overhead cost possibilities. Just as Thomas Jefferson architecturally reimagined the modern university in founding the University of Virginia (1819) so too we need to be bold enough to shape a new model of higher-education for our time.
To the left is the medieval architectural model that defined the university for nearly eight centuries, that is until the early 19th century. It is a model in which knowledge is acquired and preserved in the “Ivory Tower” purposefully closed off from the outside world. Naturally this has everything to do with the epoch in which the medieval academy emerged on the world stage and yet the language it speaks does so that reflects a distinct medieval outlook.
By contrast, Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia (1819), was designed to be open to knowledge not acquired from within the self-enclosed walls of a fortress but rather acquired by infinite possibilities some yet unknown (see Figure 2). The so-called “modern” university developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, reflected the historical context in which it emerged. This context, in western Europe and in North America reflects a break with learning that was centered on the theological and emerged with a more democratic outlook.
Just as the medieval and the modern university reflected the milieu of its day, so too the university of the 21st century reflects aspects of its own time period. By drawing on a variety of factors including technological developments, global market demands, and other resources, we are proposing that a university in our time be re-conceptualized architecturally, pedagogically, linguistically, administratively and economically.
Reimagining the university for the 21st century must be conceptually materialized simultaneously on the ground, locally as well as globally. By globally, we mean a hybrid and nomadic, a/synchronic operation that strategically moves to significant locations offering intensive studies for shorter periods of time that can be taken physically and online anywhere in the world.
In this manner, GCAS keeps operating costs to an absolute minimum while at the same time maximizing resources qualitatively in terms of high quality pedagogical education delivery. We do not have the traditional overhead costs of in-residence “bricks and mortar” universities because we primarily function online and secondarily physically (in temporary residence) which is our hybrid foundation. This hybrid operation is strategic and tactical financially and significantly limits financial risks. By removing or substantially reducing these extra costs, GCAS passes the savings on to the students, while at the same time, offering faculty members as well as students more security and quality. In other words, GCAS is about education and not about perpetuating a system that requires student loan debt by the student. In this way, we solve multiple problems while dramatically improving quality and learning outcomes.
What We’ve Achieved
GCAS started as an experiment in 2013 by Creston Davis as a response to the existing problems within academia. As those problems were experienced by many others, a community of like-minded academics, intellectuals, artists and business specialists immediately began to take shape around the idea of a self-sustaining, faculty-owned higher-education institution. Since then, GCAS has featured such illustrious names as Oliver Stone, Richard Wolff, Chris Hedges, Lewis Gordon, Antonio Negri, Slavoj Zizek, Catherine Malabou, Jean-Luc Nancy, Bracha Ettinger and Alain Badiou.