Problem: The idea of creating a top university without a fixed campus where teaching was based on online classes and the resources available in large cities, was hatched in 2012 by the American entrepreneur Ben Nelson, with advice from former US Treasury Secretary and former president of Harvard University, Larry Summers. The project aims to revolutionize higher education, by lowering costs and teaching young people to think critically and become leaders.
Solutions: Minerva courses do not have regular classes, but interactive online seminars that bring together a maximum of 20 students for high level discussions with teachers who can be based anywhere in the world. Students can set their curriculum in five major areas - computer science, social sciences, arts and humanities, natural sciences and business - and learn theoretical concepts individually through MOOCs and other digital learning platforms. Interaction with colleagues also takes place in the home environment, as students live in traditional college dorms.
As the standard infrastructure of a campus, such as areas for sports, restaurants and cafés, the idea is that students take advantage of the structure of cities, such as museums and businesses, to learn and have fun. They also personally develop by interaction with different cultures in large cities: the first year of the course took place in San Francisco; in the second (2015), students are divided between Buenos Aires and Berlin; in the third, they will go to Hong Kong and Mumbai; and in the final year, will live in London and New York. Throughout the course, they will participate in internships in companies and develop real projects.
Outcomes: The aim of the project is that students will benefit from the autonomy offered during their studies and the coexistence with colleagues and different cultures to become great leaders. Since there is no campus, the yearly fee is $10,000, 25% of the amount charged by the major American universities. The first group had 2464 applicants from 96 countries, with 30 students from 14 countries being accepted.