What is MPC… On One Foot

I always have to explain to people the department I am enrolled in at the university, I want to explain here my own account of what MPC is in a condensed way as if I had to say it standing on one foot.

The Michael Polanyi College (MPC) is a department of Universidad Francisco Marroquin that offers a four-year bachelor of arts. The program is divided into three phases: the first year is the ‘Bootcamp’ phase, the second and third year is the ‘Fellowship’ phase, and the fourth year is the ‘Leadership’ year.

The Bootcamp phase is literally a boot camp year in which students are introduced to and trained in skills that will help them to be independent ‘learners’ and thinkers. Students go through a fixed, but unconventional program in which they read the “Great Books” of western civilization and engage in “Socratic dialogues” around these readings. They have no classes in lecture format; all classes are Socratic discussions in which students’ beliefs are challenged and their thinking skills are put to work and refined.

In the second phase, the “Fellowship” years students get to choose the courses they want to take in the areas of interest. They no longer have a fixed curriculum, they have to design their own courses and mentors whom with study their courses. MPC no longer directs guides their education, but only works as an assistant and advisor to their overall direction that they give to their own learning. But students have to report before each semester starts what course they are taking, what are the goals, methods, and materials for their courses, and who is mentoring them. They sign course canvases and mentor agreements with MPC and their mentors to formalize it.

In the third phase, the “Leadership” phase they get to embark on what is called the “Great Work”. The Great Work is a project in which they have to show in the form of some tangible, real-life project, the knowledge, and skills they learned throughout the program. When students graduate from the program they are awarded an academic degree on “Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with focus on [blank]” and students get to choose what the blank will say in their academic degree according to what their concentration in the years of MPC was. And the Great Work is the project in which students show why they deserve the degree they are claiming.

There is more to say about the MPC program, but this is the general outline of what this program is about. I will say more about the program and the different phases, and my experience in the program, and my evaluation of it in future blog posts. Stay tuned.

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