Building the Intentional University

Building the Intentional University

Minerva and the Future of Higher Education

Edited by Stephen M. Kosslyn and Ben Nelson

Foreword by Bob Kerrey

How to rebuild higher education from the ground up for the twenty-first century.





How to rebuild higher education from the ground up for the twenty-first century.

Higher education is in crisis. It is too expensive, ineffective, and impractical for many of the world's students. But how would you reinvent it for the twenty-first century—how would you build it from the ground up? Many have speculated about changing higher education, but Minerva has actually created a new kind of university program. Its founders raised the funding, assembled the team, devised the curriculum and pedagogy, recruited the students, hired the faculty, and implemented a bold vision of a new and improved higher education. This book explains that vision and how it is being realized.

The Minerva curriculum focuses on “practical knowledge” (knowledge students can use to adapt to a changing world); its pedagogy is based on scientific research on learning; it uses a novel technology platform to deliver small seminars in real time; and it offers a hybrid residential model where students live together, rotating through seven cities around the world. Minerva equips students with the cognitive tools they need to succeed in the world after graduation, building the core competencies of critical thinking, creative thinking, effective communication, and effective interaction. The book offers readers both the story of this grand and sweeping idea and a blueprint for transforming higher education.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262037150 456 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 9 b&w illus.


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262536196 456 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 9 b&w illus.


Stephen M. Kosslyn

Stephen M. Kosslyn is Founding Dean and Chief Academic Officer of the Minerva Schools at KGI (the Keck Graduate Institute) and John Lindsley Professor of Psychology in Memory of William James, Emeritus, at Harvard University. He is the coauthor of Cognitive Psychology: Mind And Brain and the author of Image and Brain: The Resolution of the Imagery Debate (MIT Press).

Ben Nelson

Ben Nelson is Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Minerva. A visionary with a passion to reinvent higher education, he spent more than ten years at Snapfish, serving five years as CEO.


Bob Kerrey.


  • "If you care about learning - K-12, Higher Education, or corporate - you'll benefit from reading Building the Intentional University. You won't find a more systematic design based in learning science."

    Education Week

  • "[I]nteresting experiment in liberal arts... explained in thought-provoking depth."

    Harvard Magazine