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Content Starts IMAGI-NATION{University} is open for all

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This week we opened a free university for all. We kicked off IMAGI-NATION {TV} University specials. And we share some exciting news on where we’re heading next. It’s all here ⇩⇩⇩ in this mega email.

Read the full email

AIME Opens Free University for All

It was my first day of university when someone mentioned that just about everyone in the room we were sitting in got over a 99 in their ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank). 99? Yikes! I got a 87.6 and was in that room because of an Indigenous leadership scholarship. I felt dumb. More accurately, in a way I was made to feel dumb. We were studying media and communications, yet it only took me a few months to realise that I saw something that others didn’t see. Students in the class followed the rules, they learned about the Fourth Estate as if it had a series of rigid rules. “This looks like this because it always has,” the professors would say, as people nodded and took notes. I didn’t want to learn how everybody else was doing it. I didn’t want someone to speak to me a certain way because of a test score. Sixteen years ago I started dreaming of a university that would set my mind free. A university that wouldn’t judge based on test scores, a university that didn’t need scholarships because it was free for all.

This week we founded a university: IMAGI-NATION {University}.

The origins of the word university are from the latin ‘universitas’ which means “the whole, total, the universe, the world”. With less than 5% of the population in some of the world’s developing nations1 getting to go to university, millions locked out in the USA because of financial barriers, and millions in Australia simply thinking they are not ‘smart enough’ because they didn’t fit the rules of the production line schooling system we have – the original promise of the university of providing access to the ‘whole’ is falling short for many humans worldwide. It’s hard to see how for so many people the current exploration of higher order thinking that universities seek to provide is meeting the need that according to Frey and Osborne, will see 47% of jobs in the US gone in the next 10-20 years via automation. It’s hard to see how this complex infrastructure of the current higher education system, at times elite, will in its current model which is often deeply entrenched in costs and benefits, be able to serve humanity with the “wholeness” that is required from the origins of ‘universities’ and deliver what Einstein is urging us to do from his grave: to know that “we cannot solve tomorrow’s problems with the same level of thinking we used when we created them.”

Just over four years ago, on the 2nd of September 2016, I stood on a stage with Yael Stone, who is now my partner and mother of our child, and we sang ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’ to a New York audience of thinkers, artists, business leaders, and Australian expats. I said to that crowd “I think we can be one of the leading groups to lift millions of young people out of inequality around the world and build a safe space for those with power today to come to the table and design tomorrow’s world with us. If not us then who, and if not now, then when?”

Since then I’ve sat with Nelson Mandela’s family in South Africa, sat with school kids a few hours outside of Kampala. I’ve worked with the major global brands in NYC in Herald Square, I’ve kicked it with the leaders of colour across the USA, spoken with Indigenous leaders in Canada, connected with young people across India, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and found one consistent common thread-line – whilst race and our difference are critical to defining us, without imagination, we can never be united.

Without imagination we cannot think new thoughts.

Without imagination we cannot birth new ideas.

Without imagination we cannot empathise.

I believe without imagination we are simply not human. 

Check out Wednesday’s launch EPISODE below

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