And in this corner, Minerva, goddess of wisdom…

Another online education venture in the news yesterday as “The Minerva Project” announced it had recruited Steve Kosslyn (most recently director of Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and before that Dean of Social Sciences at Harvard) as first dean ( 

The “Minerva Project (dot com)” : has been around for about a year now. Their advisory board includes Larry Summers, former president of Harvard, and Bob Kerrey, ex- of the New School. Unlike Coursera and EdX, their model seems to be a little more of a direct competition with the “college experience.”

They have a focus on quick progress to advanced courses that starts with a fixed introductory curriculum (“During their freshman year, all students will follow the same core curriculum focused on subjects including multimodal communications and complex-systems analysis.”) and movement among several physical campuses around the world. Some sources have price point about $20k and initial recruitment focus on brightest minds in the developing world. Iniital campus (2015) to be in San Francisco.

It would behoove us (faculty) to stay on top of developments like this. The alternative is that we are going to hear about it from boards of trustees and college presidents who have been wowed at conferences and in the higher-ed-admin-media (a phenomenon we might call UVAitis). Consider this from Kerrey:

“What he’s got is one of the best private-education ideas I’ve ever heard,” says Kerrey. “I think he’s going to be successful, and as a consequence, university presidents across the country are going to be able to say to their boards and their faculties, ‘We have to change.’ He’s going to have a very, very positive impact on all of higher education in America.” Leigh Buchanan, “A True Elite Education at Half the Price,” Inc. Magazine, 30 October 2012 (


  • ( “Minerva Project Wins Leading Stanford Scholar,” EdSurge Blog Tony Wan, EdSurge 12 March 2013 
  • ( “Minerva Project: Positioning and EdTech Questions” Joshua Kim, Inside Higher Ed, April 4, 2012 
  • ( “A New “Elite University” Gets $25 Million in Seed Funding,” Inside Higher Ed, Audrey Watters April 3, 2012 
  • ( “An Idea Too Sensible to Try, Until Now,” Kevin Carey, Chronicle of Higher Education, November 11, 2012

Author: Dan Ryan

I've been an Academic Program Director at, a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. My current mission is to figure out how to reorganize higher education and exploit technology so that we can teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

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