A New Model
Frequently Asked Questions
What is OSUN?
The Open Society University Network (OSUN) is a new model of global higher education. It integrates learning and knowledge creation–in the social sciences, the humanities, the sciences and the arts, on undergraduate and graduate levels–across geographic and demographic boundaries; promotes civic engagement to advance open societies; and expands access of underserved communities to higher education.
Why was OSUN created?
OSUN aims to educate students to address tomorrow’s global challenges, fostering critical thinking and open intellectual inquiry to strengthen the foundations of open society amid the current authoritarian resurgence. OSUN counteracts 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 addresses 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 the 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 leads OSUN? And who else is part of the network?
The Central European University and Bard College cofounded OSUN, with the support of the Open Society Foundations, and run the network. They 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 does OSUN do?
OSUN integrates curricula, teaching, and research across partner institutions; embeds civic engagement into the learning environment and the creation of knowledge to prepare students to become engaged citizens; creates new pathways for underserved communities into higher education; and creates a dynamic ecosystem of long-term partnerships that will generate innovation and amplify the impact of individual institutions.
Where does OSUN operate?
With a geographically and demographically global network, OSUN stretches from Bangladesh and Central Asia to Palestine, 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 did OSUN start up?
The launch of OSUN was announced at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2020 and programs began later that year.
What makes OSUN distinct?
OSUN consists of deep, long-term partnerships based on reciprocity, not vertical integration. Partner institutions come together in their shared commitment to advance open society and address fundamental global challenges, such as inequality and climate change. They integrate curricula, courses, and research initiatives across different countries and incorporate civic engagement into higher education. OSUN builts a vibrant network of diverse institutions, including think tanks, museums, and artistic and cultural centers.
What is OSUN’s added value?
The Central European University and Bard College have established a long-standing partnership approved and registered by the Regents of the State of New York. They have integrated courses and curricula across academic institutions, promoted civic engagement, and created pathways into higher education for underserved communities. OSUN builds 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 endeavors 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.