Recent discussions of higher education “innovation” usually have something to do with digital learning and using technology gadgets to educate more people for less money. But other innovations are perhaps coming too.

According to an article by Kaustuv Basu at Inside Higher Ed:

Timothy Cook is the founding director of the Saxifrage School, and right now his institution operates out of a donated office space. But his plans are ambitious and unconventional.

The nonprofit college he envisages will offer students a four-year degree in a dual-major program where students develop a particular kind of career skill but also study the liberal arts. They will have to learn Spanish as a component of the major. “We want every student to know how to make what is valuable and to question the value of what is being made,” Cook said.

Cook (below) is 27 years old.


A former exhibits technician at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Cook, who studied English and philosophy in college, came up with his idea for a new school because he apparently wanted to address three particular problems: high student debt, decrepit neighborhoods, and high college dropout rates.

He and several volunteers plan to charge an annual tuition of $6,500. They’ll operate in “bars and churches.”

This fall Cook will teach a class on web development. The next semester he plans to teach one course in organic agriculture and another in carpentry and design. Eventually, perhaps by the 2013-14 school year, his school will offer the basic classes that might be a part of the four-year program. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer