The co-founder of Urban Outfitters is helping to build a new college campus in Pennsylvania where students don’t take tests, get assigned homework, or even go to class.
Instead, students who enroll in Scott Belair’s “Mountaintop Project” will spend an entire semester innovating and dreaming up solutions to the world’s problems, The Allentown Morning Call reports.
Belair has given Lehigh University a $US20 million grant to turn former steel research labs into a satellite campus that will operate like a study abroad program.
“There will be no lecture halls and no lectures,” Belair, who graduated from Lehigh in 1969, told the newspaper. “And it’s not just new ideas and new products. It’s a new way to educate people. It’s limitless,” he added.
The school is using Belair’s grant to execute his vision within the 120,000 square feet of space inside two factories that once belonged to Bethlehem Steel.
“I envision a 24-hour campus with hundreds of students,” Belair told the Morning Call. “A place where the ideas never stop coming. This is just the beginning. This is the future.”
Several students spent the summer working on pilot projects at the new campus, which is located east of Lehigh’s main campus and is still under construction.
According to the university, some of the ideas that came out of the summer program were prototypes for durable refugee housing and a new system for crop production and water filtration.
Another team of students produced a documentary film about the first four female faculty members who joined the university’s English department.
Ivy Ochieng, a senior who is studying humanitarian engineering and architecture, said the program was nerve-wracking but inspiring.
“When I first heard of it I was really nervous, because I wasn’t sure about the expectations. But at the same time it was exciting because the options are limitless,” she said in a promotional video created by the university. “You are the master of your own fate you make the rules.”
In a statement, Lehigh University President Alice Gast called the Mountaintop Project a rare moment in history and said she is “enormously grateful to Scott for his vision.”
We have reached out to Belair to find out more about the campus and are waiting to hear back.
To see more of the campus, watch Lehigh’s promotional video:
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