I recently visited Brown University, and took the opportunity to record a short video on what makes Brown different from the other Ivy League colleges and universities.
If you prefer, you can read the transcript below.
So here I am today on the campus of Brown University one of the eight Ivy League schools. And sometimes it’s hard when I’m giving presentations to explain the difference among the Ivy League schools, and of course the Ivy League is really nothing more than a football club. It was established so that athletes could play against one another, not because that the schools have anything in common academically. Of course a lot of really great students go to places like this, but they’re all very different and structured differently. Brown’s claim to fame is that it really has no structure. Way back in the 1960s, 1968 and all of the—let’s call them reforms that happened in education around the ‘60s. The idea was that there was no need any more to teach the old canon of academia. Prior to that a lot of students took Greek and Latin, took a very prescribed curriculum and the push in the 1960s was to eliminate all requirements.
Brown still embodies that decision to eliminate all requirements and allow students to study whatever it is they want. So you have a major at Brown but beyond that you can take anything and everything you want. So there are no curriculum requirements other than completing a major. You also have the option of taking classes without even ever getting a grade. Again, this idea of the 1960s of we can do anything we want, where ever we want, it’s for us to decide and not the man; that is still very much the tradition at Brown. Other Ivy League schools have a different set of priorities and a different curricular structure. But Brown really is that freewheeling, do whatever you want; you don’t even need to get grades if you don’t want to kind of place. It’s a very wonderful place. Providence is a fun town, interesting town. Thayer Street is kind of fun and funky and of course the campus is beautiful and the academic facilities are remarkable.
But don’t think that all the Ivy League schools are the same. They’re very different not only in look and feel, but in the academic priorities set by the institution itself.