The course and students
The School for New Learning is an alternative college within the University and has about 2000 students. All work full-time and must be 24 years old to enroll. We have no academic departments at SNL, and the course offerings are not the standard ones found in the rest of the university. Students must take courses that fulfill certain competences within five areas (Arts of Living, Human Community, Physical World, World of Work, and Lifelong Learning) in order to graduate. (In more traditional terms, these might be listed as Arts-Humanities, Sociology-Psychology, Science, Business, and Basic Skills.) These are very challenging and exciting students to teach. (One of my colleagues described them as similar to the GIs who entered college after World War II, very focused and serious about learning.)
The course takes its name from Jane Jacobs’ book Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics. It meets one night a week for ten weeks and averages 25 students.