Brown 2069. What innovations will mark the next 50?

Brown Alumni Magazine

Thanks to the Open Curriculum, the University has spent 50 years ahead of the curve in higher education. What innovations will mark the next 50?

Jonathan Collins, Assistant Professor, Brown University Department of Education

“I think the University’s purpose has been and should be trying to solve some of the biggest problems that we’re facing in the world,” says Collins, a political scientist. Understanding those problems well enough to solve them, however, requires, among other things, that we continue to increase the diversity of the student body, he believes. “Who knows better what’s happening in communities than the kids who spent 18 years there?” Adding a multiplicity of student perspectives to the deep knowledge base and multidisciplinary inquiry at Brown takes the Open Curriculum to a new level on campus. The next step, Collins suggests, is to reach back out to interact with and “empower people who will never even get an opportunity to walk on this campus.” One result might be more effective public policy. For decades, he says, “the public policy agendas that have been pushed on national platforms further and further reflect a divided nation.” This polarization is “only going to deepen if we continue to live in silos, making assumptions about people who are different from us as opposed to having substantive relationships, friendships, dialogues,” he says. “If you come to a place like Brown, the probability of you going on to live in a community where you would interact with people who didn’t graduate from high school is slim to none. So it’s important that while you’re on this campus you get a really thorough understanding of how people are having to navigate their everyday lives. Because our society has become structured such that you will never get the opportunity to do so once you leave these gates.”