The University of Austin is launching its controversial "Forbidden Courses" program Monday with two weeklong sessions at the Old Parkland Campus in Dallas.
The courses, which were announced by the new, unaccredited university when it was launched in November 2021, will be attended by 80 students as they "cultivate the habits of civil discourse." The university said it will look to investigate a different question each week, starting with "Who am I as an individual?" as it encourages seminar attendees to "discuss and debate the most vexing questions of our time."
This week, the university announced new speakers at the inaugural event, including Marvel co-president Robert Steffens; Jack Abraham, CEO of venture capitalist firm Atomic; Katherine Boyle, General Partner of V.C. firm Andreessen Horowitz; military strategist Edward Luttwak; and Founders Fund Michael Solana.
The no-credit seminar will include eight courses, including:
- "Free vs. unfree societies in the 20th century" with Niall Ferguson
- "Free speech, religion and women's rights" with Ayaan Hirsi Ali
- "Approaches to climate change" with Dorian Abbot
- "The psychology of social status" with Rob Henderson
- "Varieties of feminism" with Kathleen Stock
- "Ideology" with Jacob Howland
- "Capitalism: catastrophe or triumph?" with Deirdre McCloskey
- "Black male writing from Richard Wright to Ta-Nehisi Coates" with Thomas Chatterton Williams
The "Forbidden Courses" earned its moniker from its founders, who said they created the university due to worries of restricted free speech on college campuses nationwide. Key figures include incoming president Pano Kanelos, who described the current education system as "fractured," former New York Times op-ed editor Bari Weiss, academic Steven Pinker, and former Harvard University president Lawrence H. Summers. Weiss will also be a workshop leader at the seminar.
"We call our summer program the Forbidden Courses because the current turbulence–political, social, and cultural–is forbidding us from encountering one another honestly and authentically," the university's Forbidden Courses site reads. "Those who are going to lead, to innovate, to create, must learn how to rise above the static noise of social media, of commerce, of ideology, to see the world with greater clarity. Most importantly, we must learn again how to learn from one another."
Each student will take one course per week and participate in multiple workshops led by authors, educators, physicists and U of A founders including Weiss. The university, which has no physical campus, is unaccredited, and no classes will count for college credit. According to the organization, students attending include current Ivy League students, startup founders, published authors and scholars as well as college dropouts, first-generation students and those of "all political persuasions." Applications are currently closed.
The university has Cicero Research, led by Austin-based tech investor and Palantir founder Joe Lonsdale, as its nonprofit sponsor. While it plans to hold "Forbidden Courses" every year and start an entrepreneurship-focused program called the Polaris Fellowship in the fall, its undergraduate programs are not expected to begin until 2024.
Elon Musk has placed an order for a new, top-of-the-line private jet: a Gulfstream G700, Austonia has learned. Delivery is expected in early 2023.
Billed as offering “the most spacious cabin in history,” the aircraft seats 19 and soars above the rest of us at up to 51,000 feet. Base price: $78 million.
The Gulfstream G700 was awarded the 2022 International Yacht & Aviation Award for excellence in cabin design this year. (Gulfstream)
According to the Gulfstream website, the G700 can fly up to 7,500 nautical miles without refueling, enough range to fly nonstop from Austin to Hong Kong. Powered by two Rolls-Royce engines, it has its own Wi-Fi system, 20 oval windows measuring 28” x 21”, and two lavatories.
The sweet new ride will replace his current top-of-line private jet: a 2015 Gulfstream G650, the aircraft that has been made somewhat famous by the automated @elonjet Twitter account, which tracks and reports his personal aircraft’s movements using public data.
Landed in Austin, Texas, US. Apx. flt. time 44 Mins. pic.twitter.com/jZ7HI0i4iV
— ElonJet (@ElonJet) June 24, 2022
Musk has repeatedly championed “free speech” as a guiding ethic in his planned purchase of Twitter. Last December, Musk offered the teenager who built the @elonjet tracker $50,000 to shut it down, citing security concerns. It’s still up.
According to the @elonjet account, Musk’s jet last traveled to Austin, where it’s been since June 23. The associated data says that his flight to Austin burned $2,573 worth of aviation fuel and discharged 4 tons of carbon dioxide.
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