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The Saxifrage School redefines college ed; new headquarters and now enrolling

The Saxifrage School is ready to remake higher education. Enrollment has begun for its first ever, full-length course, and the school has just opened a new headquarters in Garfield.

“It's a pretty big deal for us because it's our first substantial prototype that will actually start to look something like the eventual college that we hope to found in the future,” says Saxifrage founder Tim Cook.

The school is a college redesign project that is challenging the concept of higher education.  A goal of the school is to have graduates that leave as "seasoned thinkers, skilled producers, engaged citizens, and social entrepreneurs."

The new headquarters are located within a storefront at 5452 Penn Avenue, across from the new Commonplace Coffee (formerly Voluto).  Cook says substantial renovations were done to the space, including refinished floors and walls, and soon-to-be-completed façade work and window installation.  Funds for the physical improvements were provided by the school’s Sprout Fund grant, and from private donors.

The new prototype class, titled "Web Development 101: Hacker Theory and Practice," will have a focus in both theoretical and practical content.  Students will explore hacker culture and the open-source community while learning to program computers, and establish a foundation for continued skills development.  

Tuition for the 12-week course is $300, and includes a meal during each 3-hour session.  Although the school is not yet accredited, Cook notes that this course is approximately 1/7 the cost of other institutions in the area.  That substantially lower price is a major tenet of Saxifrage’s redesign of higher ed.

On June 19th, the school will kick-off its latest run of short, one-night "courses," titled Pie and Pedagogy. Every Tuesday, various thinkers will engage to the central question, "Why school?," and discuss the future of higher education over pie and coffee.  Past speakers have included artists and farmers, and professors from both Pitt and CMU.  

And although these developments are big milestones for the project, plans are already in motion to kick-off a complete, year-long program in the fall of 2013.  Skills studies will include organic agriculture, building construction and design, and computer development.

For more information, or to enroll, visit the Saxifrage School’s website.

Writer:  Andrew Moore
Source:  Tim Cook
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