The Open Society University Network (OSUN) is a new global network, anchored by Bard College and the Central European University. OSUN seeks to integrate learning and the advancement of knowledge--in the social sciences, the humanities, the sciences and the arts, on undergraduate and graduate levels--across geographic and demographic boundaries, through collaborative programs by member institutions. OSUN will promote civic engagement to foster open societies and expand access to higher education by underserved communities.
OSUN seeks to transform higher education by creating a vibrant, integrated global higher education network. It will be distinguished by its shared sense of mission, by the breadth and depth of integration across participating institutions, and by its members’ geographic and institutional diversity. Innovative uses of online platforms and connected learning approaches will facilitate OSUN’s efforts to bring students, faculty, and researchers from diverse communities into ongoing conversation with one another.
OSUN will consist of well-planned, long-term partnerships based on reciprocity, not vertical integration. Partner institutions will come together in their shared commitment to advance open society and address, through education and research, fundamental global challenges, such as inequality and climate change. Partners will actively carry out this commitment through rigorous programs of study grounded in critical inquiry and through the support of research and scholarship as global public goods. OSUN will vigorously promote academic freedom, intellectual inquiry, engagement in civic life, and expanded access to higher education. OSUN will innovate in curricula, courses, and research initiatives across different countries and create a vibrant network of diverse institutions, which will extend to the places where it is needed most.
After communism’s collapse, George Soros launched a “Marshall Plan” for higher education through his Open Society Foundations (OSF) and established the Central European University (CEU) to educate a new generation to build open societies in Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia. OSF later expanded its support to over 50 colleges and universities worldwide and provided 20,000 scholarships in 42 countries. CEU has attracted students from more than 100 countries and faculty from over 40 countries. Bard College has developed a network of liberal arts institutions in Germany, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Palestine, and Vietnam.
CEU and Bard have established a long-standing partnership approved and certified by the Regents of the State of New York. They have integrated courses and curricula between themselves and other academic institutions, developed multi-institutional research projects, promoted civic engagement, and created pathways for underserved communities into higher education. OSUN will build on these successes by combining all of these diverse elements into a single network, deepening academic integration across partner institutions, and creating a higher education network with a truly global reach. George Soros, through the Open Society Foundations has committed $1 billion to support the Open Society University Network and ensure its sustainability and long-term impact.
Central to OSUN’s mission is the education of students to address global challenges by creating an environment in which they are learning with and from, and not only about, those from different societies. OSUN fosters critical thinking, unfettered intellectual inquiry, and evidence-based research to strengthen the foundations of open society amid the current authoritarian resurgence. OSUN counteracts intellectual monocultures and polarization by promoting global research collaboration and by educating students to examine issues from different perspectives and advance reasoned arguments. In addition, it seeks to reduce inequality by expanding access to higher education and to bolster the efforts of universities that operate in challenging contexts to achieve excellence and contribute to their societies.
New Model of Global Higher Education
OSUN’s groundbreaking model of global higher education collaboration consists of integrating teaching, research, and civic engagement across the network’s partner institutions. This integration will take place through long-term partnerships that feature mutual recognition of course credits and opportunities for joint accreditation, and that foster collaborative, interdisciplinary research to address global challenges. OSUN will provide a platform for student and faculty exchanges. With a strong emphasis on student-centered learning, critical literacy, liberal arts and sciences education, and the arts, OSUN will create diverse global classrooms of students who individually and collectively develop a culture of dialogue and debate. Partner institutions will embed civic engagement into the learning environment and the creation of knowledge, preparing students to become engaged citizens. They will construct new ways in which underserved communities, such as refugees, can enter and succeed in higher education. OSUN will work to safeguard academic freedom by supporting and incorporating scholars under threat in closed and illiberal societies into the network. OSUN thus will generate a dynamic ecosystem of partnerships that spawn innovation, spread knowledge and learning organically, and with the aid of technology, amplify the impact of individual institutions.
OSUN is establishing integrated academic programs on:
- Democratic Practice
- Sustainability and Climate
- Human Rights
- Global Justice
- Arts and Society
- Global Public Health
and engagement strategies on:
- Liberal arts pedagogy and teacher education to promote student-centered learning
- Early colleges, microcolleges, and pre-undergraduate programs to prepare underprivileged students for university
- Refugee education for displaced persons to enter or resume higher education
- Education in prison
- Civic engagement, including student-led initiatives, socially engaged research, and a global debate network
- People with disabilities who are excluded from attending higher education
- Inclusion of students who have difficulties attending higher education because they are discriminated against based on gender considerations
- Support and integration of threatened scholars from around the world
|Founders||Colleges and Universities||Research and Educational Institutions|
Central European University
Open Society Foundations
Al-Quds University/Al-Quds Bard
American University of Beirut
American University in Bulgaria
American University of Central Asia
Arizona State University
Bard College at Simon’s Rock
Bard College Berlin
Bard Early Colleges
Birkbeck, University of London
European Humanities University
European University Institute
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva
London School of Economics
National Sun Yat-sen University
National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Romania
SOAS, University of London
Universidad de los Andes
University of the Witwatersrand
Bard Prison Initiative
Black Mountains College
Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
Haitian Education and Leadership Program
Institute for New Economic Thinking
Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade
Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen
Picker Center for Executive Education, Columbia University
Princeton Global History Lab
Rift Valley Institute
Talloires Network of Engaged Universities
University of California, Berkeley Human Rights Center
University of Connecticut Human Rights Institute