The Floating University

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Floating University?

The Floating University is a new educational media venture which produces and distributes online multi-media curricula featuring video lectures and texts from leading scholars around the world.

Who founded Floating University?

Floating University is a joint venture between The Jack Parker Corporation and Big Think, a global knowledge forum where great minds engage the public about critical issues of our time. Floating University's founders Adam Glick, Peter Hopkins and Victoria Brown aim to provide everyone, everywhere access to the leading scholars and biggest thinkers of our time.

Are Floating University courses offered to the public, or just to universities?

Universities can offer full-credit video course offerings by The Floating University for students and alumni or for wider audiences. Floating University lectures are also available to the general public via the Internet, though the course pack must be licensed by the individual.

What kind of courses do you develop?

Courses feature provocative high-definition video lectures by today's biggest thinkers and leading scholars with related texts to provide students a mezze-plate introduction to the world's most important ideas and disciplines. Topics integrate the complex fields of Physics, Economics, Biomedical Research, the Arts, and more, taking students on a journey of discovery into myriad disciplines to let them explore unfamiliar territory, pose the difficult questions and engage in critical thinking and robust debate.

What is the idea or concept behind Floating University?

The concept of a modern university as the nexus of research and teaching is no longer relevant in a world of Google and Yahoo! where all of the world's information is available at the click of a mouse. A new era has been ushered in. As the best teachers are now producing coursework that they can license independently of the institutions where they reside, our idea was to bring these courses to everyone, everywhere, anytime. The freedom that comes from this is nothing less than revolutionary.

How do you get the best minds and leading scholars to participate in your lectures?

We presented each lecturer with a challenge: Tell us everything a non-professional needs to know about your subject in less than 60 minutes. What results is a multi-media presentation, produced with the highest quality video and graphics that is ultimately focused, engaging, intelligent and provocative.

Are Floating University courses competing with established undergraduate courses?

Floating University courses are complementary to existing undergraduate courses and may be offered as full-credit or unaccredited courses at major universities. Floating University enhances the university experience by providing students and professors access to the leading scholars and best thinkers in their fields, from physics and economics, to Linguistics, Law, the Arts and extending the dialogue from the classroom into debate clubs, courtyards, dining halls, residences and then onto social media. Having your ideas challenged and being forced to vigorously defend them in any venue is critical to education.

What are Floating University's course offerings?

We launched in the fall of 2011 with a multi-media lecture series called "Great Big Ideas, An Entire Education While Standing on One Foot." 

How will Floating University courses change the college experience?

Colleges today offer 3000 courses but no guidance on which of them to study. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and provide that needed road map and a tasting of each subject. Students can discover the fields they want to study — and, importantly, the ideas worth spending time on.

Why should all individuals take Floating University Courses?

With Floating University, everyone, everywhere is going to end up with access to the best teachers and the world's most relevant research. This is going to democratize education. Students learn through our courses how to think critically and in an interdisciplinary manner.

Who are some of the lecturers participating in Great Big Ideas?

Our course lectures are delivered by leading minds in their respective fields. The full syllabus is available here , but to name just a few: Leon Botstein, Bard; Doug Melton, Harvard; Jeffrey Brenzel, Yale; Saul Levmore, University of Chicago; Michio Kaku, CUNY; Paul Bloom, Yale; Deborah Nolan, UC Berkeley; William Ackman, Pershing Square Capital; Joel Cohen, Rockefeller and Columbia; Rebecca Goldstein, Harvard; Tamar Gendler, Yale; and Larry Summers, Nicholas Christakis and Steven Pinker, Harvard.

What distinguishes Great Big Ideas from other courses?

This is exactly the future of education - where multi-disciplined courses are taught collaboratively by various esteemed professors from multiple universities. This new "multi-collegism" in education serves our students best.

Why is it important to provide the lectures via video?

Our lectures are equivalent to a scholar distilling a 600-page textbook into one hour of lecture. However, our courses are not just a lecture with a camera aimed at the front of the room, but rather they are masterfully produced and illustrated video presentations with integrated ideas, graphics, and animation that make knowledge come alive.