Alternative College Provides Opportunities for Learning and Teaching

A New Hampshire organization, Global Campuses Foundation, has created a model of post-secondary education where people with disabilities have many opportunities to learn and to teach classes in the areas of their best knowledge.

As an alternative college, Global Campuses sees “what is called a disability as a unique and positive life experience,” said Jim Tewksbury, of Randolph Center, who founded Global Campuses with his wife, Sheryl Tewksbury.

“This is all based on, really, there is no such thing as a disability. It is a socially constructed reality,” Jim Tewksbury said Saturday in a telephone interview from Thailand, where he works part of the year. Global Campuses “is about a paradigm shift in, What is advanced education?”

Tewksbury laid out what he calls the “first foundational principle.”

“We are all 100 percent whole people,” he said. “We are all holders of knowledge.”

Global Campuses, he said, is simply “broadening the hallways” and letting in people with different learning styles and approaches to that “wonderful opportunity of what it means to feel smart, what it means to have somebody interested in what you hold for knowledge in the topics that you are passionate about.”

….Long-time educators, the Tewksburys are strong believers in the power of learning. After working with a variety of “disenfranchised people,” including people with disabilities, they began to wonder how to create opportunities “for people who do not have access to this transformative experience,” Jim Tewksbury said.

The couple had spent time in Thailand and saw it as a good place to start the program. “In this part of the world, a little bit of success really made significant difference,” he said.

….Unlike traditional college students, Shiremont students do not graduate or earn degrees. But some of the perks are the same. Participants receive an ID card, which can be used for student discounts and as a library card at Lebanon libraries. Global Campuses holds student conferences, and classes are sometimes broadcast from one site to another. “They love that because they can teach to another community, and they end up talking a lot about their campuses,” Eberhardt said.

Read more here (Valley News, January 26, 2014).

Read about Global Campuses here.

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