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Floating University

Welcome to The Floating University: Big Think Launches E-Learning Platform

It is the premise of the course that there are precious few important ideas relevant beyond their specific disciplines, but that it is these very ideas that are the foundation of a modern education.    

What’s the Big Idea?

What if the world’s greatest thinkers and leading practitioners all taught at the same school? What if anyone, anywhere could enroll in this school? This fall, Big Think is proud to announce the launch of The Floating University, a new educational media venture that creates and distributes online multimedia curricula featuring the best experts, scholars and professionals that the world has to offer.

The Floating University’s first course, Great Big Ideas: An Entire Undergraduate Education While Standing On One Foot, will be used to teach courses at Harvard, Yale, and Bard this fall and will be available to you, the general public, beginning today.

What’s the Significance?

For the first time in more than three centuries, Harvard and Yale will concurrently offer the same course — and its primary “text” won’t be a book, but rather a video lecture series comprising the world’s greatest thinkers and leading scholars.

Students are already responding. At Yale, 145 students have already registered for Great Big Ideas, for a class limited in size to 18 – making it the third most popular course on campus even before its first day of class. (Intro Economics and Intro Psychology are #1 and #2).

Great Big Ideas delivers an undergraduate liberal arts education in 12 weeks. It’s a survey of twelve major fields delivered by their most important thinkers and practitioners, including former Big Think guests Leon Botstein, Steven Pinker, Michio Kaku, Larry Summers, Doug Melton, Paul Bloom and many others.

Each lecture explores the key questions in the field, lays out the methods for answering those inquiries and explains why the field matters.  It is an effective introduction to thinking differently, and a primer in the diverse modes of problem solving essential for success in the 21st century. And, while the company is partnering with major universities, they are also challenging the basis of their traditional models of education.

Great Big Ideas is just the first of what will be a vast library of Floating University courses, available to the general public to take along with other participating individuals and institutions. The Floating University is founded upon the belief that technology is and will continue revolutionize the way that people become educated. As a longstanding nexus for thought leadership, it is a only natural progression for Big Think to lend its hand in the democratization of education.

“We presented each lecturer with a challenge,” said Peter Hopkins, Co-Founder of The Floating University and President of Big Think. ”’Tell us everything a non-professional needs to know about your subject in less than 60 minutes.’ As a result, our video lectures are highly focused, and rich in content, animation and graphics that make knowledge come alive. It is like reading a 600-page book in one hour.”

This blog is meant to keep you updated on the latest Floating University developments. Stay tuned for more on The Floating University, its lecturers, courses, and offerings. To watch all 12 lectures in The Floating University series, visit Big Think on YouTube.


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