Campus Programs

Campus Programs

From September 2024, Nova Academia will start with one-year education programs that involve a combined 6-month “Unleash Your Curiosity” curriculum and then branch out into two disciplinary specialties: Economics and Health. Alongside this academic curriculum, all students will be involved in the “Healthy Campus Community” program that helps them be active, eat healthily, socialise, and create and enjoy the beauty around them.

We cater for three separate student groups: the avant-garde program is for idealistic young adults, the finishing school program is for post-grads looking for job-relevant skills, and the gap year program is for those recently out of high school who want an intellectually and socially stimulating experience that prepares them for further studies. Whilst the main education activities and on-campus activities are the same for all three groups, additional activities are provided specifically for each.

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Find out more about the 1-year programs.

Basic information about the program

The total length of the program is 11 months, from September 2024 to August 2025, with holidays in between. The program will start with a 6-month general program shared with all other disciplines at Nova Academia. In the last 3 months of the general program-specific programs will start, with students having to choose after the general program which one they will then take up full-time the last 5 months. One specific program will be political economics. The second will be health.

The basic learning day will have 3 hours of conceptual thinking and new skill development in the morning, followed by personal and social development early afternoon, with a reflective learning activity later in the afternoon that involves an application or repetition of the material in the morning. Personal, aesthetic, communal, and academic development is interwoven as much as possible. In total one would think of 8 hours of learning and research activities per day, of which no more than 4 hours involving an academic or teacher, with other hours determined by individuals or groups of students.

A typical week would have 5 learning days with weekends free, though there would often be visiting academics and workshops that can be done on the weekends. One would not be able to do the program off campus as learning activities are not recorded or online. Being offline promotes ease of speaking, community formation, and reducing time on social media.

Download the brochure of the School of Economics

Economic Program Finishing Year program Nova Academia
The Finishing Year program in pdf School of Economics Nova Academia
Avant Garde program
The Avant Garde program in pdf School of Economics Nova Academia
Gap Year program
The Gap Year program in pdf – School of Economics Nova Academia

Download the brochures of the School of Health and Society

The finishing year program.

The Gap year program.

The Avant Garde Program

6-Month Introduction to the Basics

In the first 6 months, all students will be exposed to three areas of interconnected knowledge. The first is basic and intermediary statistics, a crucial area indispensable for research in any discipline. The second is a basic ideas introduction to the humanities and the disciplines taught at the Academy. This will include some basic ideas and results from neuroscience, anthropology, economics, history, biology, health, and psychology. The third is an independent thinkers program run by Dr Tjeerd Andringa, specifically designed to help students develop their own worldview, their curiosity, their ability to learn, and their understanding of successful self-development. This activity uses the content of the other activities.

Whilst students will start from the ground up, they will need a good grasp of numbers and strong conceptual abilities to be able to cope with the material and the pace of learning.

Note: A recent PNAS paper with the name “An astonishing regularity in student learning rate” (Koedinger et al., 2023) concludes that students barely differ in learning rate. The conclusion: “Students do need extensive practice, about seven opportunities per component of knowledge. Students do not show substantial differences in their rate of learning. These results provide a challenge for learning theory to explain this striking similarity in student learning rates. They also suggest that educational achievement gaps come from differences in learning opportunities and that better access to such opportunities can help close those gaps.” Nova Academia is a place that optimises these learning opportunities.

The key point here is that a rich basis of relevant knowledge is more important than differences in the speed of learning. Hence the more one already knows the faster the learning. This supports the importance of the Jules Verne Note learning method in which one self-decides what is Worldview Worthy and should be broadly consolidated in long-term memory as a basis for accelerated future learning.

Koedinger, K. R., Carvalho, P. F., Liu, R., & McLaughlin, E. A. (2023). An astonishing regularity in student learning rate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 120(13), e2221311120. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2221311120

Do you want to prepare your future with us?

Find out more about the 1-year programs.

8 Months Political Economics Learning and Research

The 8 months of political economy, with the first 3 months overlapping with the general program, are devoted to two integrated activities. The first is an expansion and deepening of the basic ideas already introduced in the general program. Students will learn to recognise basic economic concepts in their own environment (competition, returns to scale, limited liability, externalities, design thinking, etc.), learn how to combine them into a reasonable understanding of complex phenomena and start to apply them to improve society. These are on their own highly valuable skills, much sought after by employers.

The second activity is a running research project undertaken by students individually and in groups. The task for 2024/2025 will be for the economic group as a whole to write a new book called “Game of Mates in the Netherlands and Belgium”. The Dutch/Belgium “Game of Mates” book will be an analysis of the political-economic realities in the major economic sectors of the Netherlands and Belgium, including an examination of reform options and the political difficulties involved in reforms. Students will thus be actively uncovering the political economy of their own country, or, if they are not from that region, the countries they are then visiting. Each chapter is a project for several students, whilst there are also individual tasks students can do instead of taking on whole chapters as a group.

This new book, published after the 1-year program, is the Dutch/Belgium sequel to the best-selling book “Game of Mates” written for Australia in 2017 (with the sequel “Rigged” in 2022). Students and their parents contemplating this stream are strongly encouraged to read the 2022 sequel (https://www.amazon.com.au/Rigged-networks-powerful-everyday-Australians/dp/1761067664/ ). By reading that book one gets a good idea of what the scale of the task is that the students will be doing in the 8 months of the political economy program, as well as its great usefulness for the country and their own development.

Individual students and small groups will work on their chapters throughout the 8 months, presenting preliminary findings, discussing common issues and problems encountered by other groups, and generating their own data.

Early on in the 8-month program, students can choose the sectors they want to examine, though some may choose more theoretical issues common to all sectors, or to specialise in dissemination techniques. Students will of course be properly credited for their contributions to the final product, though they can keep their contribution anonymous if they wish so.

Through these two integrated activities – learning the broad implications of basic economic ideas and applying their knowledge to the political economy of the Netherlands/Belgium – students will thus get a quite extensive understanding. They will get to intimately know the economy of Belgium and the Netherlands, learn and apply insights on how to design improvements and become aware of how complex economic systems work and what can be done to improve them.

Whilst we start from the ground up, we expect students to reach a level of understanding far beyond the level one normally expects from students who did a whole master’s degree in economics in regular universities. To achieve this of course involves hard work, fuelled by the passion one gets when working on understanding one’s own society and how it can be improved.

The School of Health and Society program is also eight months long and, like economics, also oriented towards understanding both the drivers and interconnections. See https://novacad.org/students/ for more details.

Pedagogy

The general learning style is Socratic and experiential. This involves a minimum of top-down “this is how it is” teaching and a maximal use of guiding questions and examples that help students with their individual learning paths. This “show, not tell” method requires more preparation and quality from teachers, but is a highly effective method used a lot in executive education. It was also a prevalent method of learning in the elite learning places in previous generations.

Healthy Campus Communities

At Nova Academia, afternoons are for healthy, physical, and spiritually enriching activities. Students themselves, with some help from teachers and parents, will organise sports activities, arts programs, poetry reading, music programs, games, and explorations of the local countryside. Beautification of the campus and the dormitories will be encouraged.

The environment of the campus offers many sporting possibilities, including cycling, walking, canoeing, horse riding, and swimming. The castle itself has rooms ideal for dance and music, with separate buildings and places for those who need quiet time.

Groups of students will also alternate in being responsible for cooking for everyone and cleaning the castle and the grounds, with deliberation systems in place to help them navigate conflicts. The campus will hence operate like an open community that organises itself. The campus will not be a hotel but largely run by the students, with frequent open discussions and dialogue to identify problems and come to acceptable solutions.

 

 

Workshops

Throughout the year there will be many workshops by visiting academics and other thinkers, announced as specific events which will sometimes be open to outsiders. In principle, students are welcome to attend all workshops, and some will be specifically tailored to them, such as job fairs and presentation skill workshops. Art workshops, dance workshops, and video-making workshops are also expected to be offered.

Do you want to prepare your future with us?

Find out more about the 1-year programs.

Skills

In their 11-month education, students will be helped to acquire many highly valuable skills increasingly demanded by employers, such as:

Examinations and Evaluations

Exams, tests, and grading activities, in general, motivate students to review and remember material. Moreover, communities and students expect some visible individual signals of the quality of students. Yet, standard tests often reward memory (cramming effort) over application and are not student-specific in the sense that students differ in the learning outcomes they aspire to realize.

A variety of evaluation methods will be used in the programs, including our unique Jules Verne note methodology. The basic principle is that there will be frequent self-evaluations and peer evaluations of progress in extending the own worldview. Academic-graded evaluations will be highly recommended, but on-demand. Diplomas will reflect whether students did graded evaluations and what those were.

Jules Verne Note Methodology

The famous French 19th-century novelist Jules Verne, who wrote classics like “Around the world in 80 days” and “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”, wrote thousands of small notes to himself in his life. On those notes he wrote what he learned about many areas of science and the world, such as the properties of metals or the possibilities of engines, which he subsequently used to make his books up to date and even prophetic: his description of submarines and rockets was very close to how those eventually worked! Jules Verne is considered such a scientific visionary that some of his notes have been shot into space as evidence of the genius of our species.

We are going to use a similar note-writing methodology to stimulate students to develop their own worldviews. Students will be asked to write notes every week in which they detail what they believe they have learned or deduced that is new to them, so their honest belief about some new knowledge or insight. Those notes will be uploaded to their personal profile.
Students will regularly have evaluation sessions with each other in random combinations in which they get to see previous notes and ask each other about how they now see those topics and what further deductions they have made, leading on to in-depth conversations: they will basically help each other expand their thinking and stimulate them to make additional mental connections.

Now and then academics will have similar evaluation and expansion conversations with students, using the notes students have written hitherto, hence both solidifying the previous learning and adding own insights and thoughts to them. If you like, the individual student-written notes are used as conversation starters leading to more notes. On request, the quality of the notes and the deductions in the last few months can be graded by academics.

This highly innovative method of evaluation exemplifies the general pedagogical philosophy of Nova Academia, which is to make learning fun, student-specific, and integrative.

Peer Grading

We will use a lot of peer-grading, for instance by having students grade the feedback they get from other students on their presentation or work. Think for instance of a situation in which students present their preliminary chapters for “Game of Mates in the Netherlands and Belgium” to the class, whilst each student also gives a 1-page feedback on the presentation of someone else. Furthermore, presenters can grade the feedback they got on that presentation. So one does not at that point grade the presentation, but the feedback on it. One can have a second person also grade that feedback. In such a way one rewards useful and courteous feedback, meaning one rewards constructive engagement.

A further method is a prediction race where students and academics are set prediction questions relevant for society. These can range from classic questions like the interest rate in 6 months time, to political questions like what will happen in some foreign conflict by some date. Because they are so easy to externally check, one can use these for grading too.

Apart from these innovative evaluation methods, students will also get:

Do you want to prepare your future with us?

Find out more about the 1-year programs.