December 2021

The North American university system, as currently conceived, is in the final stage of its life cycle and due for a significant disruption. For all the ink spilled over the last several decades about the “crisis in education” and the various problems that have befallen modern universities, precious little action has been taken.

As a result, the average university is confused about its purpose, failing to deliver an education of any consistent quality, failing to innovate, much too large for its own good, consumed with high modernist delusions of grandeur, embracing an anti-intellectual ideology, abandoning the Western intellectual tradition it should be championing, and leaving its students not only intellectually and economically impoverished, but bereft of even the options a postsecondary education should provide.

Given the major challenges that almost every Western university is facing, it is unlikely that many of them will survive the next two decades, particularly in North America. It is also unlikely that meaningful systemic changes will be implemented on time, on budget, or on objective, which means that true innovation will come from the margins and will serve to further disrupt a troubled sector.

This document aims to be such a disruption.

First, it investigates and exposes the unnecessary, counterproductive, and illegitimate monopoly on higher education that Western universities currently possess. Second, it is a vision: At a time when universities are in crisis, a thoughtful reclamation of the original concept of the university reveals important best practices for people passionate about creating, preserving, and sharing knowledge. Third, it is a rough blueprint for anybody looking to start a university of their own – no endowment required. Finally, it is an examination of the impact a university can have on individuals, societies, nations, and the species.

Indeed, for all the faults and imperfections of current iterations of the university, it is a truly special kind of institution that has a great deal to contribute to humanity.

Table of Contents

  1. An Indictment Against Modern Universities
  2. The Idea of the University: A Reclamation
  3. The Micro-University
  4. Intellectual Wealth
  5. Concluding Thoughts