The Latin motto of European-American University – Ipsa scientia potestas est – means “Knowledge in itself is power”.
“We must move away from a view of education as a rite of passage involving the acquisition of enough knowledge and qualifications to acquire an adult station in life. The point of education should not be to inculcate a body of knowledge, but to develop capabilities: the basic ones of literacy and numeracy as well as the capability to act responsibly towards others, to take initiative and to work creatively and collaboratively. The most important capability, and the one which traditional education is worst at creating, is the ability and yearning to carry on learning. Too much schooling kills off a desire to learn…. Schools and universities should become more like hubs of learning, within the community, capable of extending into the community… More learning needs to be done at home, in offices and kitchens, in the contexts where knowledge is deployed to solve problems and add value to people’s lives.” (Charles Leadbeater, The Weightless Society, 2000: 226-227)
European-American University believes that the world is increasingly in need of an institution that carries forward a determinedly holistic and humane vision of education. Such a vision takes as its keystone the privileging of the lifelong learning concept and of the rooting of the learning experience in the individual and the resources of the community. Experience within traditionally-organized institutions has convinced us that, with rare exceptions, the will to rise to the challenges of placing the learner at the heart of their own learning experience (through individualization of programmes and delivery, the synthesis of practice and theory, and full integration into the learning experiences of the community) is not yet present, nor is it likely to be paid more than lip-service without a complete re-structuring and re-definition of the operation and values of those institutions. As a result, the opportunities to bring forward our ideology must be sought beyond the boundaries of current provision.
Those who participate in the programme offered by European-American University will be undertaking a process radically different from that on offer at traditional universities. That process is free from both political influence (particularly in the form of social engineering and the erosion of academic standards), from the rhetoric of postsecondary education, whose purpose is largely to defend the status quo and hinder experimentation, and from extraneous commercial interests in the form of sponsorship and big business control. Rather than pointlessly forcing the human experience to bend to a narrow definition of what is acceptable, we instead base our programme on an enlightened awareness of the holistic role of learning as an integral part of living. Thus we are inclusive, not exclusive, by nature, and the challenges of our programme are different from the mainstream – more searching, more wide-ranging and key to the empowerment of the individual as a world citizen of tomorrow. We take the view that our philosophy of education gives a greater meaningfulness to education by virtue of its emancipation of the student and its placement of the student at the very heart of his or her learning, with satisfaction and self-actualization coming from an award that reflects rigour and excellence as revealed in the completed portfolio, dissertation or terminal project.
We have worked hard and built on a long history of alternative education to create a solution that meets the needs of today. Firstly, we are determined to keep our tuition fees lower than those of many major institutions, so that those from a less privileged background are no longer excluded from a college education. Secondly, we are uninterested in merely providing a narrowly-defined credential for career purposes. Rather, we seek to stand for a set of interior values that harmonize with the concerns of today; concerns for the sort of society that we want to build and the vital role of education within personal empowerment, with a respect for the unique gifts that each one of us has to contribute central to that mission. Higher education demands higher principles and a higher purpose consistent with ensuring sustainability and the betterment of the human condition. We seek to serve our fellow travellers on this planet, grow in understanding and share our vision with others.
The central pillars of our approach, particularly within our distance learning programme, are these:
- You take an active role in your education.
- You take an active role in the design your degree programme using the resources you consider most relevant to achieve your goals.
- You can bring lifelong, community-based and other learning, both structured and unstructured, into the programme.
- You can contract with mentors to maximize the resources that are available to you.
- You and your mentors together assess your progress and how far you have to go to reach the goal that you have set.
- Your degree is totally personalised, concerned with your own holistic education and represents a meaningful step towards self-empowerment and interior growth.
Perhaps as no other institution, European-American University places its trust in the Learner at the center of his or her own learning. We believe along with Carl Rogers that:
“There is another attitude that stands out in those who are successful in facilitating learning…I think of it as prizing the learner, prizing her feelings, her opinions, her person. It is a caring for the learner, but a non-possessive caring. It is an acceptance of this other individual as a separate person, having worth in her own right. It is a basic trust – a belief that this other person is somehow fundamentally trustworthy…What we are describing is a prizing of the learner as an imperfect human being with many feelings, many potentialities. The facilitator’s prizing or acceptance of the learner is an operational expression of her essential confidence and trust in the capacity of the human organism…
“[Students feel deeply appreciative] when they are simply understood – not evaluated, not judged, simply understood from their own point of view, not the teacher’s.”
Carl Rogers: “The interpersonal relationship in the facilitation of learning”
EAU and sustainability
History and structure
The European-American University project itself first took shape in 2003, and in subsequent years incorporated several small and now-defunct correspondence institutions. The ensuing years saw the EAU project undergo a considerable process of development and change, culminating in the adoption of the EAU name itself in early 2007 and the formal launch of the new online presence for EAU later that year.
European-American University is global in its outlook, utilizing the best of both American and European academic practice (and particularly influenced by the traditions of the British academic system), with a strong commitment to sustainability through technology, to curriculum experimentation and to academic freedom. As a global institution operating primarily through the technology of the internet, the University’s campus is ultimately wherever its students may be found worldwide. According to a publication of the American Council on Education, Washington D.C.,
“A few institutions operate without a campus and have many sites similar to off-campus programs; these institutions may consider themselves to be campus-free or a generic university without walls.”