Deb Wisniewski
Greetings! I'm a connector... I love to help people connect to each other, to share their ideas and to get involved in in their communities. I'm also a Faculty member of the ABCD Institute and a co-founder of ABCD in Action.

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Bethel Popup University: Sharing Gifts in Communities

user image 2020-03-06
By: Deb Wisniewski
Posted in: Stories

As I was surfing the web one day, I came across this wonderful story about a town that organizes its own "popup" university each year during the month of March. This is how they describe it:

A pop-up university for the community, by the community!

Bethel University is a unique community pop-up university in Bethel, Vermont. During the month of March each year, anyone can teach courses on any topic under the sun.

How does this work? To start with, anyone in the community can teach a course and anyone can take a course free of charge. Community members are invited to submit proposals. In January of each year, these are reviewed by community members who form the Bethel Revitalization Initiative Team (BRI Team). Anyone is welcome to join this team. BRI contacts professors soon after.  (Again, you should note that anyone can be a professor if they offer to teach a course.) They then announce courses publicly and open registration in early February.

According to their website, the town of Bethel Vermont US (population around 2,000) has been doing this since 2014. Here's their list of nearly 70 great courses and meet-up groups (informal gatherings) that were offered in 2019:

  • Acoustic Music Jam
  • Coworking
  • Fraud and Scams: Self- Defense in an Age of Attacks
  • Nutrition to Prevent and Heal Dental Problems
  • We are Changing: We are the Change!
  • Bethel Outing Club & Snowshoe
  • Intro to Improv Comedy
  • Love Your Life in 30 Days
  • Art & Science of Foam Rolling
  • Firefly: Bethel’s Burning Man
  • Introduction to Linux OS
  • Learn to Meditate
  • Nerf Gun Fun
  • Risotto 101
  • A Rainbow of Spring Salads
  • Traditional Dances of Vermont’s Italian
  • Build a Little Library
  • Let’s Talk Politics
  • Exploring Minecraft
  • Farmers Market / Craft Fair Success
  • Logo Design Basics
  • What Do You Do with Tofu?
  • Investing with Your Values
  • Quilts Unplugged: Grandmother’s Flower Garden
  • Stress Management
  • Core Strength for Everyone
  • Wine Tasting
  • Dodgeball
  • Roll Your Own: Sushi
  • Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope
  • Healthy Eating on a Budget
  • Nail Art 101
  • Not Your Grandparents’ School
  • Home Composting
  • World Celebration in Song
  • Baking Biscuits with Kids
  • Grow and Store Your Own Food and Flowers
  • Beauty and the Budget
  • Startups and Sidehustles
  • BCorps: Using Businesses as a Force for Good
  • Vintage Gas/ Wood Stove Meetup
  • Find Your Voice: Giving Great Talks and Presentations
  • Rites of Spring: Medieval European Folklore
  • Holistic Approach to Fibromyalgia/CFS
  • Shape Note Singing
  • National Parks and Wildlife of Africa
  • Healing Without the High: Hemp & CBD
  • Brisket: Hot and Fast Method
  • iPhone Photography
  • Kombucha
  • Landscape Plan Graphics 101
  • Placemaking with Community Art: Chelsea Barn Quilt Trail
  • Fairy Gardens
  • Quilting for Beginners
  • Evaluating the Condition of a House
  • Chainsaw Safety
  • Stress and Hormones
  • Make Lace Beads with Polymer Clay
  • Soiree: Cultural Heritage Dance Party
  • Baking Craze: Kids’ Cupcake Class
  • Easy, Colorful Polymer Clay Earrings
  • Introduction to Signed Languages
  • Solarize Bethel Region 
  • Art of the Grill: Cooking with Fire
  • Lego Time

To learn more about Bethel University, check out their website and the Facebook page for Bethel Revitalization Initiative.