The School for the Future: Education for a More Beautiful World

The commentable google document of this article is here.

The School for the Future is a 21st century training ground for entrepreneurs and activists to learn the most sophisticated, high leverage tools for positive impact.

I have always wanted to live in a community where the central value of the community was how to do the most good in the world. I think the sense of commitment to do the most good would make the community healthy, resilient, and most likely to feel increasingly better to live in. There are objectively better and worse ways to live and more and less effective ways to do good, so the community should also always be trying to get better at knowing what good options are out there and how best to get there. The long term vision of The School for the Future is to become that community. Beginning as an online school - launching in November 2017 - we’ll grow into a think/do research tank, business and movement incubator, and distributed network of confederated villages that share this core value.

Movements like Effective Altruism are pioneering research into how to perform informed, intelligent, effective altruistic action. However, their approaches have so far tended to consistently recommend only a few areas of especially large impact, for example minimizing the existential risks to humans due to artificial intelligence and donating money to a particularly effective nonprofit dedicated to preventing malaria. Unless you are working directly in those fields, it is much more difficult to know how you can spend your time, rather than just your money, most wisely.

The School is taking a slightly different, complementary, and simultaneously narrower and broader tack by training individuals who are working in the fields where we already generally try to have the biggest, positive, most innovative impacts on society: entrepreneurship and activism. Rather than focus primarily on areas of impact, we focus on just two methods of impact and train individuals to accomplish the unique/diverse beneficial goals that they care about and have the motivation and capacities to accomplish with those methods.

In general, we aim to train people to think experimentally and act iteratively in their missions. All of our courses will be significantly project-based. Students will be be accepted on the basis of their readiness to get the most value out of their courses, their commitment to starting or continuing an activist or entrepreneurial project, and the potential size of the positive impact of their project. Our initial instructors share interests is complex, adaptive responses to challenges, integrating the virtues of diversity and hierarchy, and the necessity of personal, collective, interior, and exterior transformations. We aim to be on the leading edge of our understanding of how to bring the most value into the world.

In particular, we are integrating self-transformation as a fundamental area of practice for entrepreneurs and activists. This means that students will learn to shape their personal experience and behavior over time in service of their missions. The school takes the position that it is almost always both extremely useful and ethically necessary to train individuals to be deeply happy, wise, and well intentioned. Example self-transformation course subjects include cultivating pro-social virtues, distinguishing feelings and ideas about the world from perceptions of the world, increasing the capacity to respond flexibly to complex situations, and learning to integrate multiple modes of perception and evaluation and assess their relative utility in a given situation.

The School will try to be as participatory, innovative, and effective at fulfilling its own mission as possible as well. Soon founders, instructors, investors and advisors, staff, and students will have ownership and governance rights of the school. We also aim to be appropriately transparent about our operating structure, goals, and decision making process and welcome feedback and helpful suggestions from anyone, including admirers and constructive critics supporting from a distance. This introduction contains links to several google documents you can comment on. These living documents are in their initial conditions. We will publish revisions of them over time based on input and our ongoing experience. Additionally, here is an earlier, much longer, and more detailed description of the entire intended structure of the school.

On November 12, 2017 we are launching our first course, Entrepreneurial Liberation, which focuses on starting a business so that it becomes a path for growing wisdom and compassion. It blends meditation training, using the six paramitas (Mahayana Buddhist virtues of generosity, discipline, patience, effort, concentration, and wisdom) as a foundation for building networks of mutual benefit, entrepreneurial theories including effectuation and disruptive innovation, and specific skills including design thinking and customer development through study and intensive experiential learning projects. To learn more, meet the instructor, and apply for the course visit the course page.

We are excited about creating a deep community innovating to create a wildly better future. If you would like to participate as a student please apply. If you would like to participate in some other way please contact us. Questions, comments, suggestions, partnerships, and inquiries to join the team or teach a course are all welcome. 

Zach Schlosser