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Academics Raise the Bar at the Bar

De notre correspondante aux Etats-Unis, Jessica Gourdon, Translated by Nina Fink
Publié le
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La première édition de Raising the Bar à New York en avril 2014... ou comment populariser le savoir universitaire
La première édition de Raising the Bar à New York en avril 2014... ou comment populariser le savoir universitaire // ©  raisingthebar

Are Millennials over classroom-based classes ? Is it not easier to learn in a fun, friendly setting ? These questions led a group of college students to launch Raising the Bar, a nonprofit that hosts academic lectures in bars in New York City and other cities worldwide. We take a closer look at this new initiative as the April departure date approaches for EducPros’ East Coast Learning Expedition.

For its first edition in April 2014, Raising the Bar invited 50 professors to give free public lectures on topics of their choosing at 50 different New York bars. A total of 10,000 people came out to learn about subjects ranging from urban sociology in the 1930s to the way the brain works and the power of TV shows.

Dr. Sari Locker, Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University, spoke about the impact of the porn industry on society. “There was a warm, joyful atmosphere. People got really involved and were full of energy,” she said.

According to production director Yuli Luvish, “We wanted to show that there’s nothing like a face-to-face class in an unusual setting.” This type of free, social community event appeals to the growing number of young Americans who are taking an à la carte approach to academics by combining MOOCs, online certificates, academic boot camps and workshops.

The project is sponsored by Columbia University and NYU, which see the event as an opportunity to take learning outside the classroom and gain publicity for their professors and research. They hope it may even encourage some people to go back to school at their schools.

The response to Raising the Bar has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Luvish says, “Most of the professors we’ve contacted have come on board.” Lecturers volunteer their time and the nonprofit itself is supported by partnerships with companies such as Uber, Time Out and Time Inc. Luvish and her two full-time colleagues plan to hold the event several times a year. The third New York edition is scheduled for this June and Raising the Bar just launched in San Francisco and Hong Kong. Next up: Sydney, London, Vienna and Berlin.

As for the bars, they could not be happier about the turnout. In fact, the main challenge is finding volunteers to monitor the bars and perform crowd control at the most popular lectures. A five-dollar charge has recently been instituted for online reservations. Bar-based learning is decidedly at the head of its class.

Read the article (in French)


De notre correspondante aux Etats-Unis, Jessica Gourdon, Translated by Nina Fink | Publié le

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