Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Facebook Twitter YouTube SoundCloud Instagram Tumblr Email list

New Culture of Learning Challenges Knowledge Institutions

March 11, 2011

How do people learn today in a world with unprecedented access to information?

Today's culture of learning flows more, relying less on preexisting stocks of knowledge or fixed cultures of intellectual authority and more on a passion for learning that itself is a form of play, according to Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown, the authors of A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change (CreateSpace, January 2011). 

In a review on Amazon’s website, Institute Director Michael Kennedy recounts a discussion of the book in his class this semester on Knowledge Networks and Global Transformation. “As I listened, I wondered whether in fact I was observing just what Thomas and Brown were describing – this different culture of learning in action, and whether, in that assembly, I was seeing in formation that next incarnation of the thing which made Brown University famous more than three decades ago: its new curriculum.”

The book and its class discussion raised several questions for Kennedy, he said. Among them: “How does this new culture of learning combine with traditions in liberal arts? There are complements to be sure, but there are some real tensions that need to be faced.”