The Space College Ethos

As is often the case with educational institutions where students are somewhat elite and are engaged in exciting activities that are viewed as special, there is the risk that a culture of elitism and exclusion could develop at Space College. We'd like to prevent this at the onset.

In many developing countries, the notion of college or university education is often unobtainable. While there are efforts to provide graduate level education to students from developing nations, these opportunities are often few and far between and do not address the needs of the remaining and much larger population. Also, graduates are often enticed to settle abroad, thus limiting the potential benefit to their home countries. Space College seeks to access the broader population and do so in situ such that students are able to participate from their home communities. Hopefully they will be able to apply their education locally as a result of having obtained the education where they already live.

While access to education is far greater in developed nations, there are still huge underserved communities within developed nations that could derive value in a fashion similar to students in developing nations.

While actual participants are distinguished from other people by virtue of their participation, "participation" needs to be defined in such a way so as to allow many sorts of participants - both in a physical and virtual sense thus facilitating maximum participation in - and identification with - Space College and all of its aspirations.

That said, there will always be a certain positive and exclusive reputation attached to actual Space College participants and graduates. After all, they have done something special. Space College certainly does not want to try and discourage people from deriving every thrill they can get for the experience but we want that experience to serve a greater purpose.

One way to do this is to require that all participants, graduates, and staff engage in education and public outreach activities before, during and after their involvement with Space College. The intent is that participants share their own experiences, encourage others to participate, spread the word about space exploration, and to give back to those who helped support the their activities at Space College. In so doing, participants and graduates remain grounded in the reality of the communities they came from and to whom they will return and serve as a means whereby new participants are motivated to participate. The best marketing tool is one based on personal excitement.

While efficiency is always something to strive for in conducting EPO in terms of audience size, EPO to small groups - even individuals should not be over looked. As former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe was apt to say in situations where he encountered a single taxpayers, his training from Jesuits led him to appreciate the concept of "one convert at a time". Done properly, each Space College participant should be able to recruit or interest at least 2 new participants. In other words, Space College can and should evolve and grow in a viral fashion.

However as all of the trappings that are commonly associated with western academic institutions are pursued, it is important to remember that many participants will come from under-served communities domestically or economically challenged nations where such promotion and alumni trappings are unobtainable or simply not done for cultural reasons. Participants in Space College should all be required - or at least urged - to participate in or create charitable organizations and activities such that their participation is amplified manyfold.

In third world nations, the model to follow is that of Sir Edmund Hillary. After his ascent of Mt. Everest he adopted the Nepalese people - Sherpas in particular - and spent the next half century fundraising for a variety of causes. Airports, schools, hospitals, and other activities designed to elevate the quality of life all bear Hillary's name. Space exploration is just as exciting to people in countries who have yet to send citizen into space or an experiment on a satellite. Lowering the barriers to entering space exploration - especially with the advent of global communications - offers a means whereby Space College participants can use their own experiences to the maximum.

Space College participants should be openly encouraged - indeed required - to broaden their interactions and share their experiences with their community and others.  Some elements of the Peace Corps might be worth looking at.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or ideas please use the comments feature to let us know.

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