The origin of the university in western culture, starting around the second millennium of the common era, is a community of scholars in a committed search for truth. That has been increasingly obscured in the third millennium of the common era with disciplinary monomania, abuse of power by “teachers” over “students” and corruption causing a crisis in replicability of results so profound that even the corporations parasitic on the taxpayers’ money used for their “research” at these “ universities” have begun to fund their own replication studies.
The rampant abuse of power reflects the greater society in which blanket warrantless surveillance is combined with the threat of torture and the militarization of police to create a society even less free than the founders of Cambridge fled from in Oxford. At great risk to themselves, a group of young activists have taken to the streets in the USA to protest the open murder by police of people of colour. One of their meeting places, the Omni building at Shattuck and 49th on the border of Oakland and Berkeley, has also become the location of an educational experiment.
We are trying to see what happens if all the paraphenalia and technologies of power that have grown up around the “ university “ can be dispensed with. In short, no teachers, no students; simply seminars with participants fact-checking on the internet, with one participant also a moderator. No grades, no capacity to enforce silence, no fees, no compulsion of any sort.
Yet the courses will in general be a selection taught for credit at universities considered top-rate. It is hoped that the many gaps in the hugely expensive current PI (Principal investigator) model will become evident as new discoveries are made in cognitive science and biology. We have good reason to be optimistic, as our early seminars have indicated brilliantly intelligent use of web resources to allow participants to “teach” each other things new under the sun.