Making micronational universities relevant

OPINION – The ultimate goal of a micronational university must be to build a better micronation and, in doing so, support its longevity. This requires that it develop local skills and knowledge that help focus the population toward the needs of the micronation, its customs and its environment. Losing sight of this primary purpose will ultimately make the micronational university ineffectual, causing it to eventually languish into oblivion, and robbing its micronation of important local education.

There are three key considerations one must be mindful of in developing a micronational university: it must be aware of its purpose, it must be relevant, and it must not limit access.

Purposefully – and practically – aware

A micronational university will never have the necessary resources – financial or otherwise – to compete with macronational institutions, even if the micronational university somehow accrues the necessary resources to achieve macronational accreditation. There simply is not enough of a population within the micronational community to support such an endeavour, and to focus on achieving such an end will only divert limited resources away from making the educational institution a practical benefit to your micronation.

A micronational university must set its purpose and structure its course offerings with the realization that it is complementary to the macronational educational system. Regurgitating basic skills that micronationalists already learn macronationally, like English or Pure Maths, is senseless as is focusing on highly complex subject areas like engineering or pharmaceuticals that no micronational university’s budget or teaching resources can hope to support the proper and safe instruction thereof.

Make it relevant to your micronation

A micronation’s universities, or other educational institutions, need to support its internal development by offering specialized courses that contributes to the building of a practical local skill base. For example, it can offer courses to help those individuals who enter government within the micronation, either as a civil servant or a minister, learn the local governing processes and procedural jargon, while supporting the development of a specialized skillset, such as legislative or policy writing. It can also offer courses on diplomatic protocols, constructed languages, or micronational history (in general or specific to the micronation itself, or its allied micronations – what a great way to build on those diplomatic protocols just learned when one is made ambassador to an ally!)

That is not to say that taking material from macronational courses is forbidden; but the micronational university that does must adapt such material to the needs or policies of the micronation specifically, as opposed to simply rehashing the same material the instructor learned macronationally. For example, a course in law will undoubtedly have to include background information on Common Law or Civil Law, whichever inspires the micronation’s legal system; but, the bulk of the course content should specifically focus on local examples of law and practices within the micronation rather than discuss the peculiarities of, say, the Common Law practices of the United States versus those of Britain.

Such a requirement is also likely to play out particularly in technical courses – for example, for the micronation that wishes to teach its citizens home gardening, it will have to utilize macronational course material, but the university can teach such techniques with respect to a specific climate of, or crop grown within, the micronation rather than provide a wide-ranging generalized course that loses focus and thus becomes less effective in fostering local development.

Access-limited means limited usefulness

Remember that the primary purpose of founding a university in your micronation is to support its ongoing development, not to act as a revenue stream – major or minor – for your micronation. In a small community where most participants are in their teens or early-twenties, money is always less than freely accessible, as incomes are limited, especially for those who have moved out of their parents’ house.

A micronational university should not charge cold, hard cash as tuition as this will limit access to a sizeable portion of the population – as a result, you cheat your micronation’s internal development by preventing citizens from acquiring relevant skills. Further, the degree that the micronational university grants is worthless paper (as it is macronationally unaccredited, and your micronation is unlikely to be a real country anytime soon), so charging money for it is foolhardy at best. Such a practice will only deter students when in a small community, such as micronationalism, the proliferation of knowledge and skill is of utmost importance.

The provision of courses must allow them be done in such a way that there is open access. A learning management system is the best course of option, as it provides a secure, convenient, environment for registering for courses, reading the associated material, and undertaking any desired examinations. A large number of micronations make use of WordPress for their national websites, and the author has personally found the Namaste! LMS plugin, with its complementary Watu testing plugin, to be very handy – and free – tools. There are many other LMS (learning management systems) available through those with full-service hosting packages, such as Moodle.

Not only will such systems make learning enjoyable for the student, they also reduce the burden that micronational universities have on a micronation’s limited resources, as once the course is programmed into the system the first time, it will not have to be “put together” for future offerings, which reduces the dependency on the instructor being available. As such, long-term access is improved by embracing this technology over less “advanced” methods of emailing course material on predefined schedule.

Making micronational universities relevant