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Transcending borders through global diversity in education | Minerva Schools at KGI

Robin Goldberg Portrait 2015

Providing multicultural insights that will serve students for lifetime

Influenced by the vision of Ben Nelson, Founder and CEO of Minerva Schools at KGI, to re-imagine higher education, Robin Goldberg, Chief Experience Officer explained to Brainfeed how they embarked on building a more relevant curriculum, a more engaging classroom, a truly immersive global experience, and a reduced cost structure that would better prepare students and put them on the best trajectory possible for the future.

How is the alternative education in Minerva an education for future?

We’re preparing students for the future by teaching those skills that will enable them to be dynamic, adaptive individuals who can navigate complex situations and make informed, thoughtful decisions. Through rigorous academic and experiential learning programs, students gain the broad knowledge and practical skills needed to solve the most complex challenges.

We believe contemporary undergraduate education needs to be multidimensional, developing students’ intellect across disciplines, facilitating deep exploration and focus in an area of interest, imparting critical life skills, building professional capabilities, and reinforcing key aspects of personal character.

Global diversity of our students:

North American                       21%

Latin America                          12%

Europe                                       24%

Asia                                           27%

Africa and the Middle East    16%

What kind of challenges does Minerva face from parents, society, aspiring students, etc.?

When we first started Minerva, we developed an intentional curriculum, adopted a pedagogy based on the science of learning, built a radically flipped classroom experience, and designed an immersive global residential program to enable our students to get out in the world and put into practice all that they were learning in the classroom. There was initial interest in what we were doing even in our early days, yet we didn’t have proof points. For the first students and their parents, there were dilemmas & lots of questions.

Six years later, we now have those proof points.

  • Minerva students take the collegiate assessment, the CLA+ from the Council for Aid to Education. As the results show, in just 8 months our students are seeing significant progress on the core skills of critical thinking, creative problem solving and effective communication – outperforming student progress seen in four years at other institutions.
  • Employer surveys confirm that our students are performing exceptionally well in summer internships and work/study roles with employers such as Google, PWC, Amazon, Novartis, and Humanity in Action, etc., as well as in research opportunities at places like Caltech, Santa Fe Institute, and a large host of prestigious university science labs.
  • The on-going growth we have seen in applicants – over 23,000 applications last year – reinforces that students are seeking this kind of educational opportunity and excited about the possibilities it offers.

How are the administrative procedures in Minerva different from a conventional University?

Minerva uses the vast resources of major world cities as its educational, extracurricular and cultural infrastructure. This innovation has two benefits: it reduces the cost for our students and increases the quality of the facilities by offering access to the best historic, scientific, artistic, culinary, and cultural institutions in each global location.

The Global Rotation Program is expensive and unaffordable. Is it a myth?

Though the global rotation may sound costly, this is a myth. A Minerva education is actually much less expensive, given the tuition, fees, housing and expenses are about 50% of the cost when compared to other top-tier American universities. As our business model does not require us to invest in campus buildings, gyms, cafeterias and other campus infrastructure costs, it enables us to keep our cost structure down, and in turn, the cost to our students is significantly lower. Even with that, we know that some students require financial aid, and we have a comprehensive program including low-interest loans, work/study opportunities, and need-based scholarships that are designed to enable any student accepted to attend Minerva.

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