Amos Bronson Alcott Centre for Educational Research

The Amos Bronson Alcott Center for Educational Research was initially established as a research centre of European-American University in 2007. It has as its main area of research interest independent post-secondary education within the university sector in all of its aspects. This is set in the context of general enquiry into postsecondary education developments around the world with particular regard to institutional status, award applicability and relations between the public and private sectors.

The CER has published articles on relevant matters, including providing advocacy for the self-regulating private university sector, and conducted commercial consultancy for individuals and organizations in its areas of interest. From 2009 onwards, it has also offered services in the evaluation and interpretation of international credentials.

Who was Amos Bronson Alcott?
Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888) was one of the pioneers of non-traditional education within a spiritual setting. Along with Emerson and Thoreau, he was part of the Transcendentalist group of philosophers, and as such was a remarkable advancer of individualism in education. Acting largely alone and unsupported, Alcott undertook experiments in radical person-centered education at private schools that directly prefigured the non-traditional movement. Elizabeth Peabody said, “What I witnessed in his school room threw for me a new light into the profoundest mysteries that have been consecrated by the Christian symbols; and the study of childhood made there I would not exchange for anything else I have experienced in life.”

Alcott’s teaching methods and publications issued an explicit challenge to the conservative educational establishment of his time, and were met with repeated hostility and financial difficulties. However, he never wavered from his adherence to his principles. He asserted, pre-echoing many later non-traditional educators, that “Education, to be decidedly religious, should reach man’s universal faculties, those faculties which contain the laws that connect man with his maker.” In this way, Alcott was referring to the concept of holistic education, as well as confirming that the religious principle cannot be confined to a narrow training in religious subjects, but instead must permeate all educational processes.

Resources on Alcott:
The Amos Bronson Alcott Network (includes e-texts of Alcott’s books)
Encyclopedia Britannica article
Bibliography by Paul P. Reuben

Recent work of the Centre
Recent work has included the provision of consultancy services to other universities, advisory work on international education systems for a range of purposes, research into university privatisation in several locations, qualitative appraisals of private education providers for third parties, the nature of present and past oppositions to private tertiary education, and the relevance of radical educators espousing student-centered principles, particularly Malcolm Knowles and Carl Rogers, to models of progressive education at the tertiary level.

Opportunities for research students at the CER
Special partial-fees scholarships are offered for students who wish to carry out research of benefit to the University on the subject of independent tertiary education towards the degrees of M.Phil. or Ph.D. The CER offers a unique focus on this area with staff who can offer experience and academic expertise. Please apply in the normal manner, detailing your proposed research project and requesting consideration for a scholarship. There are no full-fees scholarships currently available.

Foreign credential evaluation
The Centre offers services in the evaluation and interpretation of foreign educational credentials. In mid-2009, the Centre absorbed the work previously undertaken by Marquess Educational Consultants, a foreign credential evaluation firm established in 2005 by the University’s Chancellor, and therefore builds on an established reputation in the field. The Centre has worked particularly with the most complex and difficult cases in credential evaluation, and provides consultancy and expert opinion on an advisory basis. Over the years, the Centre and its predecessor have provided several thousand expert opinions on education for use before the United States Government Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and consulted on over ten thousand cases.

At present, the Centre accepts requests for evaluation only from existing clients, and not directly from the public.

From its inception, the Centre has published online a number of general articles concerning self-regulating private sector universities, distance learning, nontraditional education, accreditation and related subjects. These articles are intended as advocacy and a platform for informed opinion, and do not necessarily represent the views of the University or its officers.

The Centre also republishes several named-author articles that are not otherwise available. The series of articles by the former Columbia Pacific University focuses on that institution’s philosophy of education, which has been strongly influential upon the Centre and the University today.

Introductory series

Non-traditional education series 

Columbia Pacific University series