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Yale Embraces the Future, Names Peter Salovey President

Big Think would like to congratulate Peter Salovey, who was named the 23rd President of Yale University last week. Since Salovey succeeds Richard C. Levin, whose tenure at Yale lasted two decades, this represents a generational shift. Indeed, one of Salovey’s principal challenges, he told The New York Times, is “to adapt the old teaching model for students who have grown up online.” 

As Yale’s provost, Salovey has already shown his hand through his embrace of MOOCs — massive online open courses — at a time when many people in higher education view these courses as a threat. But the new teaching model must go well beyond MOOCs, Salovey believes, and to that end, Salovey has co-taught a class called “Great Big Ideas” — an introduction to the world’s most important ideas in a variety of disciplines — with Adam Glick

Great Big Ideas was developed by Big Think in partnership with the Jack Parker Corporation and was offered at Harvard, Yale and Bard — the first time these colleges offered the same course.

Instead of going to a lecture hall, students watched online video lectures representing 12 different disciplines. Class time was devoted to instruction. Not everyone was pleased by this bold approach to learning. As Geng Ngarmboonanant noted in the Yale Daily News, “many professors disapproved of the course when it entered the Bluebook.” Salovey, however, saw the potential for this course and “did not buckle under pressure.” 

That’s the kind of bold leadership that should suite Yale well as it presses forward in the brave new world of higher learning with Salovey at the helm. 

Big Think is now offering Great Big Ideas for free. Here is an introduction:

You can now watch the first nine Great Big Ideas lectures in this playlist:

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Image courtesy of the Yale Office of Public Affairs & Communication

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan


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