A New Model
Frequently Asked Questions
What is OSUN?
The Open Society University Network (OSUN) is a new model of global higher education. It will integrate learning and knowledge creation across geographic and demographic boundaries, promote civic engagement to advance open societies, and expand access of underserved communities to higher education.
Why is OSUN being created?
OSUN aims to educate students to address tomorrow’s global challenges. It will foster critical thinking and open intellectual inquiry to strengthen the foundations of open society amid the current authoritarian resurgence. OSUN will counteract intellectual monocultures and polarization by uniting institutions around the world in collaborative research projects and by encouraging students to examine issues from different perspectives and through reasoned arguments. In addition, OSUN seeks to address inequality by expanding educational access to neglected and minority populations, such as incarcerated persons, the Roma, and refugees.
OSUN is designed to:
- Expand access to higher education at a time of growing inequities
- Educate students to address tomorrow’s global challenges by getting to know other societies from the inside
- Foster critical thinking, open intellectual inquiry, and fact-based research to strengthen foundations of open society amid authoritarian resurgence
- Counteract polarization by promoting global research collaboration and educating students to examine issues from different perspectives and advance reasoned arguments
- Bolster efforts by universities in challenging environments to build their own capacity through global partnerships to make greater contributions to their societies
Who will lead OSUN? And who else will be part of the network?
The Central European University and Bard College are cofounding OSUN, with the support of the Open Society Foundations, and will run the network. They will collaborate closely with a wide range of institutions, including universities, such as Arizona State University, American University of Central Asia in Kyrgyzstan, Ashesi University in Ghana, BRAC University in Bangladesh, Sciences Po in Paris, and SOAS and Birkbeck, University of London; and think tanks and research institutions, such as the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, Chatham House, the Institute for New Economic Thinking, and Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen. OSUN is actively seeking the participation of additional partners that share its values and principles.
What will OSUN do?
OSUN will integrate curricula, teaching, and research across partner institutions; embed civic engagement into the learning environment and the creation of knowledge to prepare students to become engaged citizens; create new pathways for underserved communities into higher education; and create a dynamic ecosystem of long-term partnerships that will generate innovation and amplify the impact of individual institutions.
Where will OSUN operate?
With a geographically and demographically global network, OSUN will stretch from Bangladesh and Central Asia to the Palestinian territories, from South Africa to Colombia, and from leading universities and research institutes in Europe and the United States to New York State prisons, inner-city high schools in Baltimore and Newark, and Syrian and Somali refugee camps.
When will OSUN start up?
The launch of OSUN was announced at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2020. OSUN programs will begin this year.
What makes OSUN distinct?
OSUN will consist of deep, long-term partnerships based on reciprocity, not vertical integration. Partner institutions will come together in their shared commitment to advance open society and address fundamental global challenges, such as inequality and climate change. They will integrate curricula, courses, and research initiatives across different countries and incorporate civic engagement into higher education. OSUN will thus create a vibrant network of diverse institutions, which will include think tanks, museums, and artistic and cultural centers.
What is OSUN’s added value?
The Central European University and Bard College have succeeded in establishing long-term partnerships, integrating courses and curricula across academic institutions, promoting civic engagement, and creating pathways into higher education for underserved communities. OSUN will build on these successes by combining their elements in a single network, strengthening academic integration across partner institutions and achieving a truly global reach.
What impact is OSUN expected to make?
OSUN will endeavor to transform global higher education and make significant impact in communities around the world, including to:
- Build a new model of global higher education
- Cultivate a new generation of globally engaged citizens
- Unite researchers worldwide to address global challenges
- Expand the creation of knowledge for open societies
- Create new pathways for underserved communities into higher education
- Scale up opportunities for refugees to enter or resume university
- Enhance the professional skills of K–12 teachers and university faculty to design and implement student-centered learning
How can philanthropic partners contribute?
Philanthropic partners may support particular programs, enhance OSUN’s reach and impact in specific countries or regions, or collaborate with OSUN in building new programs via its unique platform of global higher education. OSUN coinvestments can reinforce the commitments philanthropic partners have made elsewhere to advance their aligned missions.