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Introduction to the Intercultural Open University Foundation

Dr. S. Hurlong

Sandra Hurlong, PhD, President
July, 2013

Welcome and thank you for visiting our distributed education campus. It is an honor and pleasure for me to introduce you to the Intercultural Open University Foundation. We are an accredited dual degree granting distributed educational institution that was founded in 1981. Our international partners are the Universidad Azteca and the Universidad Central de Nicaragua.  We are registered as a charitable educational foundation in the Netherlands and in the United States of America. The Foundation maintains offices in both Spain and the USA.

We are a unique institution of higher learning providing a personalized, mentored educational experience for graduate students as well as functioning as a charitable educational Foundation for social change. In August 2008, the Intercultural Open University Foundation was reorganized in order to better reflect our original philosophy of education.

The idea for our Foundation began at a 1980 colloquium with Dutch, German, Asian, Indian, Latin America and English professors at Bosk House. At this meeting, Jan R. Hakemulder, PhD proposed that an open university foundation be established to provide an innovative and charitable, learner-centered educational environment devoted to social change and research in a global perspective. From this meeting, Intercultural Open University Foundation was established.

The Intercultural Open University Foundation is one of a small number of alternative educational institutions which began In the 1960s when the learner-centered, self-directed orientation of education movement emerged in the US and UK. Roy P. Fairfield, a Harvard University Professor of Education, was among the founders of this movement. His book, Person Centered Graduate Education(1977) chronicles his pioneering efforts at the Union Graduate School to create a self-directed graduate program and explores the paths and pitfalls of alternative modes of education. Much of the non-traditional educational philosophy in the 1960s incorporated the ideas of humanistic psychology, such as those of Carl Rogers' Client-Centered Therapy, Arnold Mindell's Process- Oriented Psychology and Clark Moustakis' Transpersonal Psychology.

The beliefs of the pioneers in non-traditional education were that study is more an attitude than a system. That attitude puts the learner first and the institution second. It concentrates more on the learner's need than the convenience of the university, encourages individual opportunity rather than uniform prescriptive learning, and de-emphasizes time, space, and even course requirements in favor of competence and performance.

Intercultural Open University Foundation subscribes to two fundamental educational ideologies: (1) learner-centered, self-directed learning, and (2) socially relevant graduate programs for adults. Our learner-centered approach derives from the progressive thinkers in adult education in the US, Mexico and Europe. We encourage an intellectual setting in which disciplinary boundaries are easily crossed and collaborative learning is emphasized. Our learners are encouraged to develop programs focusing on social relevance and the ways in which the world’s peoples, with their multiple and conflicting interests, are to live together peacefully and justly.

Among the most prominent graduate institutions founded on these principals were, The Open University in the UK, The Union Institute and Graduate School, Fielding Institute, Saybrook Institute, California Institute of Integral Studies, The New School in California, and Antioch University in the US. Regional accrediting associations eventually accredited all of these institutions. Today Intercultural Open University Foundation offers accredited dual PhD degrees and remains one of the few global institutions still supporting self-directed, non-traditional adult graduate education.

We are a community of individuals connected by a shared educational philosophy and a shared belief in the best process for engaging in learning; we are not connected by any geographical place. We form a social network of board members, faculty, learners, alumni, and staff who communicate by email, telephone, video conferencing, and/or in person. Our faculty consists of accomplished mentors in distance education for adults and all hold PhD degrees from well-known universities as well as being well published in their fields of study.

The Intercultural Open University Foundation accredited dual degree PhD programs are offered in an international partnership with the Universidad de Azteca and the Universidad Central de Nicaragua. In consultation with faculty members, learners create a self-directed curriculum of areas of proficiency and a dissertation appropriate to their field of study, along with a specified means of scholarly evaluation of their studies.

I hope this brief introduction to the Intercultural Open University Foundation helps give you a context for our educational programs. You will find details about our degrees, faculty, governance system, and scholarships on our main web page.