Jessica L. Ryan
Jessica L. Ryan

***Correction: This article originally stated that scholars would live at Chautauqua, but Watson University has not confirmed lodging for scholars anywhere in Boulder as of March 22, 2013.

For six or seven years I've worked with a group called Educate!, which has changed the education system in Uganda by implementing a two-year leadership program in Ugandan high schools. Educate!, which was started in Boulder, is an amazing organization ... and now the Educate! model is coming to people right here in Boulder.

Educate! cofounder, Eric Glustrom, grew up in Boulder and went to college in the U.S. Through his education, he found he never had institutional support in his work with Educate!, which he sees as a major issue in education in the U.S.

Eric is working to change that by founding Watson University, a brand new program that will give nerds of all types the opportunity to pursue their dreams. The semester-long program is designed to change lives -- and to change the world.

Watson University's students, called "scholars," spend time learning life skills like resilience, teamwork and empathy. These are critical life skills that a lot of people typically don't learn until long after they've graduated college, so scholars get a jump start on their personal development.

Then they're paired with amazing teachers, including Jerry White, a State Department employee who's won the Nobel Peace Prize and technically has to go on a "diplomatic mission" to Boulder ... which is hilarious. The courses range from "The ABCs of startups" to "Policy as a lever of social change," giving scholars the opportunity to learn about a variety of topics.


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Finally, scholars go into a "laboratory" phase where they're allowed to work on their own projects. Scholars are encouraged to work on projects that aim to change the world -- anything they can dream of. Some project ideas include writing a children's book about climate change, constructing a dialogue about nuclear issues in Pakistan and developing better communication systems to help solve conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

All of this sounds completely awesome, right? Well on top of the amazing opportunities scholars get, Watson University has partnered with CU to ensure scholars get college credit for their work -- they can even earn credit toward their majors. This partnership with CU is completely unique and perfect for CU students, who can take advantage of CU's "Time Out" program.

If you're an entrepreneur, leader, innovator, or dreamer, you really should consider spending a semester at Watson University. I've seen the amazing results of this education model as it's been applied to students in Uganda; being a part of this innovative program in the US is sure to change your life.

Watson University is accepting applications for the fall semester until April 15 -- while it's based in Boulder, the program accepts students from all over the country. If you'd like to apply or learn more, check out http://watsonuniversity.org.

Jessica Ryan is a senior media studies major at CU. She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan.