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Building Liberal Arts for Crypto
Bhaumik
0xc781
November 18th, 2021

Liberal arts have gotten a bad rap, especially in tech circles.

We see it play out in both Silicon Valley and in higher education: the emphasis on recruiting students of “hard sciences” and the stereotype of the indulgent graduates who studied history, sociology, or “underwater basket weaving” in college...

This dismissive attitude towards the liberal arts comes from the assumption that they’re not ROI-positive. Conventional wisdom goes that an English degree — even one from an elite university — is a precarious proposition in terms of career prospects. There’s a reason why no one has built a liberal arts bootcamp.

Liberal arts studies have a longstanding history: in Ancient Greece and Rome, for example, mathematics, rhetoric, and music were the formal curricula essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. During the Renaissance, a period that ushered in a rediscovery of ideas and knowledge, the term “Renaissance man” denoted an individual who sought to develop skills across many disciplines.

Today, we have an opportunity to change the modern perception of liberal arts and re-establish it as a foundation to not only creating a better web, but also participating in society and culture, especially as technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous.

DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) may serve as a new coordination mechanism to build educational entities where every stakeholder designs the experience together as owners.

Students could vote on where their tuition money goes towards instead of spending the budget on the football team. Speakers can gain ownership into the DAO when they deliver talks. Researchers can have a much faster process for funding grants.

There are great web3 education groups onboarding people into crypto through interactive tutorials or with on-chain credentials. RabbitHole, Station, Forefront, Layer — all are great resources for guiding people in navigating their way around wallets, DeFi basics, and the broader ecosystem.

There have never been more groups (including a new wave of learning DAOs on the way!) answering the question of “how” for crypto, but what we’re missing is a critical mass of people addressing the “so what?”. What are the anthropological, political, and sociological implications? Why does any of this matter?

That’s our niche.

We want people who care about web3’s broader societal impact to have a place to ask questions, voice their thoughts, and learn with a community of peers.

We want to inspire more people to care about how crypto can help solve some of the greatest problems of our time, while simultaneously pushing to make this space as inclusive and accessible as possible.

We’re going to make this a sustainable business model.

We’re going to build liberal arts for crypto.

Our approach

In September, we raised a small crowdfund to kick off our first semester of discussion groups with prominent voices in crypto. We introduced the concept of a “learning DAO,” aiming to solve the educational trilemma of content and teaching (pedagogy), business model, and network.

Two months later, we have signals that we’re onto something special. But to get there, we need to channel our collective energy around three themes: experience, impact, and revenue.

World-class experience

Crypto, Culture, and Society will be the home of intellectually rich conversations. We don’t care how many Discord members we have in our community. We care about the quality of the discussions — here’s a snippet of the conversations that happen organically in our public Campus.

We want learners to rave about the depth of insights from our speaker-led live workshops. Learners should feel proud of their involvement and have strong affinity towards the CCS brand.

We want speakers to have so much fun that they stick around afterwards to continue the discussion or engage in new topics.

We want everyone to build the future of CCS with us as co-owners.

Tangible impact

Fostering fun and sharing insights is great, but it’s not enough for us!

We’re not succeeding until people are growing outside of their comfort zone, embracing new perspectives, and feeling comfortable expressing vulnerability.

We’re not succeeding until we’ve built an inclusive, accessible environment that doesn’t discriminate towards age, race, sexual orientation, ability, or prior knowledge.

We’re not succeeding until we properly support researchers exploring questions in sociology, anthropology, culture, and more. We’re not looking to replace colleges; we want to work with them.

We’re also not going to shut our doors for people who are skeptical of web3. We need skeptics in the room to push for progress.

Diversified revenue streams

In order to pay contributors, researchers, and speakers, we need to generate revenue. Our treasury shouldn’t rely exclusively on venture capital or crowdfunds to grow.

This might mean kicking off each Semester with NFTs that grant access to speaker-led workshops alongside free scholarships.

This might mean converting each of our workshops into articles on this Mirror publication as an NFT collectible, with proceeds split between the speaker and DAO.

This might mean partnering with other DAOs and protocols to help them design their own learning experiences, and/or consulting on impact for protocol grants.

But that’s only the beginning of an endless list of experiments.

Operating values

We'll be ambitious in how we operate, striving to set a gold standard that inspires new DAOs. We are and will continue to spend a lot of time researching what’s worked well with other DAOs while making sure that we’re not reinventing the web2 wheel.

We’ll balance bias for action with attention to detail, operating with rigorous thinking (in writing) while being inclusive to new perspectives and ideas. We’ll test assumptions, validate risks, and run new experiments every week.

Our collaboration will be transparent, and our communication will be accessible. The core team will DM at least 3-5 new members every day to have a pulse on the community.

Most importantly, we’ll have fun and not take ourselves too seriously :)

Semester 1

We’re more than halfway through our first Semester of classes. We have an incredible group of team leads, brought on by Course Manager Bhaumik, that will work together to deliver on the value prop outlined in our crowdfund, prepare for a successful Semester 2 launch, and drive experiments in education & sustainability.

Here’s an overview of the team leads and what they’ll be focused on.

Community

Kristin Chen has made a name for herself in CSS through her detailed workshop notes. Her background as CEO of top.gg is excellent for this role as we build out our onboarding & community on Discord. She’s previously lead product at Soundcloud, Pinterest, and Twitch.

Brandon Soufian has built one of the most engaging DAO onboarding experiences in the game with Krause House. He brings not only an inspirational level of energy and creativity, but also a background in strategy consulting / banking.

This dynamic duo will do wonders in building an onboarding process from scratch, overhauling our Discord server, and providing a ton of energy / enthusiasm for new learners.

Curriculum

Bhaumik Patel has spent his career building different models of online education from vocational bootcamps (Thinkful) and networking communities (On Deck) to creator-led courses (Maven) as an early startup employee.

Melvin Salvador loves interdisciplinary thinking and has the product chops to help us scale our education infrastructure. At Career Karma (where he leads product), he builds connections between members/squads and has scaled event operations to 30-50 per week. He’ll be instrumental in developing workshop playbooks and our knowledge management system

They’ll be the operational powerhouse behind the infrastructure and playbooks for hosting workshops, recruiting speakers, and most importantly fostering bottom-up, peer-to-peer learning.

Experiments

Nick Ducoff has a wealth of experience in startups and traditional academia (VP of New Ventures at Northeastern University) that will be instrumental in driving new experiments to make our DAO a sustainable business model. He’s also familiar with grant proposals and securities law (former attorney!) so he’ll be help us work more closely with researchers and help tackle important legal questions as we reach maturity.

Warren Bramley has decades of experience leading a design studio where he’s worked with high-profile clients in Arts, Music, and Culture. He was recently awarded a Visiting Fellowship in Design at Loughborough University where he designed a web3 module set up as a completely decentralized Co-Design studio for collective success. He’s most excited about making learning experiences truly community-oriented and helping everyone flourish.

This experienced team will challenge the DAO to think outside the box by driving experiments around education, partnerships, and/or sustainability.

Governance

Graeme Boy launched this learning DAO with his crowdfund. From leading engineering at Dharma protocol to being CTO of Mirror, he has deep experience building contracts with tokens and treasuries.

Liam Herbst, an active contributor in CCS, DAO Masters, and KrauseHouse, is obsessed with DAOs. In his day job, he owns recruiting for program leaders at On Deck and built the On Deck Miami community from scratch.

Graeme & Liam complement each other well in personalities, skillset, and experience. They’ll collaborate to draft proposals, manage our treasury, and help us prepare for a successful Semester 2 launch.

Media

Tasha Kim has significant experience across social media, new media, branding, and marketing both personally and professionally (as an early stage investor). She’s the artist behind our beautiful rebrand and has a vision of building a “hybrid of academia and culture but built on web3 principles.” Sound familiar?

Vyara Ndejuru is the CMO of Late Checkout, a web3 design firm that acts as an agency, studio and fund building community-based businesses. She previously worked in CPG where she led branding, content, and social and has experience opening new markets in EMEA and APAC. Her genuine passion for the potential of crypto and community to change the world inspires us all.

This group will represent CCS to the world through social media presence, branding, and new content efforts :)

Publication

Daniel Soto has spent a decade working with artists, facilitating exchanges between creators and supporters across disciplines and communities. His vision for the publication is inspiring and ambitious.

Sarah Drinkwater is an ex-journalist, angel investor and community builder who spent 10+ years building community programs for entrepreneurs at Google and at Omidyar Network. In addition to her day jobs in web2, she writes for places like Sifted and Financial Times and is also a senior adviser to the Filecoin Foundation.

Daniel and Sarah will be researching and editing for our publication, as well as recruiting authors and exploring various publishing formats.

Scholars

Outside of the above groups, we also onboarded a diverse cohort of 40 scholars who are helping us pilot a process for semester-long scholarships. They’re able to attend all of our live workshops, access recordings, and contribute to teams. We believe that anyone eager to learn with others should have an avenue of participation in the DAO that doesn't rely on high amounts of capital or being the first to spot an opportunity.

Ultimately, scholarships will be a core component in the accessibility and design of future semesters. You can find a growing list of scholars on Twitter here.

How to get involved

In late December / early January, we’ll announce plans for Semester 2. Until then, there are a variety of ways to get involved:

Learn with us: join our public Campus on Discord to participate in the high-quality discussions happening every day. We welcome everyone from web3 beginners to experts to skeptics.

Build with us: post in the “#volunteer-here” Discord channel if you’re looking to help out with a particular team.

Teach with us: DM Bhaumik if you’d like to be a speaker for Semester 2.

Write with us: DM Sarah or Daniel if you’d like to write for the Society publication.

Fund us: Collect this post (with the accompanying cover image) as an NFT to help us compensate contributors, speakers, and researchers. We’ll be eternally grateful privately and publicly :)


Special thanks to Kassen Qian, Li Jin, Daniel Soto, David Phelps, Tasha Kim, Graeme Boy, Sarah Drinkwater, and Stew Fortier for their contributions on this post.

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