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Flying University Network Conference

September 30, 2019

Flying University Network ConferencEducation belongs to everyone.

This was the philosophy behind the original Flying University - an underground movement of professors and students in Poland who met in secret to preserve traditional scholarship when it was banned by occupying forces. And it is the philosophy behind the Flying University Network, an initiative launched this year by LSUS student Steven Harkness.

"A classroom is anywhere people come together to learn and grow," says Harkness. "We have an obligation to the whole species, not just the ones who can afford tuition. I think the Flying University is an opportunity to meet that goal."

Dr Alexander Mikaberidze, History Professor at LSUS, agrees. "Education is, in my mind, the great social leveler."

An exceptional scholar himself, with an impressive list of publications and an international reputation as an expert on Napoleon, Mikaberidze "feels strongly about encouraging students to explore new intellectual venues," especially "exceptional students" like Harkness, who pursue "a better future despite challenges and hardship that life throws at them."

The idea of education beyond walls came to Harkness while he was reading A Warsaw Diary by Polish poet Kazimierz Brandys, a member of the worker's resistance group KOR whose attempt to speak at the Flying University was interrupted by the arrival of police. Harkness found himself inspired to adapt the model for American students, not only as a hedge against possible political, environmental, or social disruption but also because it was a way to meet others who are passionate about learning.

"The world has always been my classroom," he explains. "Humans are fascinating creatures, and the planet itself is the galaxy's coolest museum."

That drive to learn, to understand, is central to the human experience. The classroom is only the beginning. The goal of the Flying University Network is to provide an arena in which intellectual growth can continue. Members are encouraged to meet wherever and whenever they can - in coffee shops, living rooms, garages, back yards - to share their knowledge about issues that are important to them.

The Conference, planned for Friday, November 8 and sponsored by the MLA Program, brings members together for a more formal educational experience. The call for papers is interdisciplinary, reflecting the goals of the Flying University Network. Delegates can address topics in Business, Education, the Arts, Science, and Technology.

Dr Julie Lessiter, Vice-Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives, is thrilled that LSUS is hosting the event. "Ensuring that our students can think deeply and broadly about a topic is the cornerstone of an LSUS education. We have many talented students who will be the next leaders in this community and beyond, and we are helping to prepare them as well-rounded citizens who can think critically through a problem and find creative solutions."

In addition to the intellectual richness the conference promises, the three best presentations will receive a Noel Pilot's Prize, generously donated by Dr Mikaberidze. There is also a competition for a logo, with a $100 cash prize being awarded to the winner.

Abstracts for the conference are due by October 15th. More details on this year's themes and submission requirements, along with information about the Flying University Network, can be found at the website www.flyinguniversitynetwork.com

 
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