Pop-up community universities may spread to other towns
BETHEL — Last March, Bethel University launched and became the first community pop-up university of its kind. Next year it’s coming back – and spreading to other nearby towns.
Bethel University is a community pop-up university. For one month last year, Bethel University offered free “mini-courses” that showcased the diverse talents of residents and businesses and brought people out to meet, build community, discover Bethel’s assets and explore new ideas.
In its first year, anyone in Bethel, Vt., was invited to teach a course on any topic under the sun, and anyone could take courses for free. In total, 21 “professors” offered Bethel University courses ranging from Zumba to vermicomposting, quilt making to BBQ, and 134 people from 12 different towns signed up. To organizers’ surprise, more than half a dozen other towns have asked how they can replicate the idea.
The Bethel Revitalization Initiative (BRI) created Bethel University (BU) as a way to strengthen the community, spread knowledge, forge relationships, and build a new buzz in town. BU far exceeded organizers’ expectations: according to a survey