Some small towns, if they’re lucky, are home to a liberal arts
college. But Yellow Springs may be the first village that is a liberal
arts college, or at least that will become one on September 4, when
the many doors of the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute — located
in churches, coffee shops and homes around town — open for business.
The organizers of Nonstop rolled out their plans last Thursday, July
17, to an appreciative audience of about 75 people at the Bryan Community
Center gym. They plan a second gathering in August to more specifically
describe curriculum offerings.
“We hope you join us this fall for our cultural and educational
adventure,” Nonstop organizer Chris Hill said at the event.
Nonstop is many things, according to Hassan Rahmanian of the effort’s
executive leadership collective, which also includes Hill and Susan
Eklund-Leen. All are former longtime professors at Antioch College,
which closed at the end of June.
Nonstop “is an act of reclaiming our education, an act of carrying
the torch and saving the soul of Antioch, and it is the revitalization
of an exhausted, demoralized faculty,” Rahmanian said.
Nonstop is also a profound opportunity for Yellow Springers to not only
support former college faculty and students, but to gain more vitality
as a community, according to villager Don Wallis, who will teach a Nonstop
class on community journalism with former Antioch professor Dennie Eagleson.
In his three decades in Yellow Springs, Wallis said, he has seen a decline
in community values, including creative problem-solving and respect
for diversity, and he believes this college/community collaboration
can reverse that trend.
“This is an opportunity to not only save Antioch but to save our
community,” he said.
Nonstop is not aimed at drawing energy away from the efforts to save
Antioch College, but to complement that goal, according to Eklund-Leen
in response to a question from Suzanne Clauser. While the Nonstop curriculum
will work in its current manifestation as an educational venture embedded
in the community, it can also serve as a newly designed curriculum for
a revitalized Antioch if efforts to create an independent college succeed,
“Nonstop is a way to keep the spirit and values alive and to keep
the faculty,” she said. “It’s a bridge to return to
the campus. We are hopeful that all of us can march back to campus someday.”
The effort to continue the college’s legacy off campus has sparked
considerable energy and passion in the past year, according to Hill,
who described renewed connections between the college alumni and its
faculty as well as between the college and the community. Some alums
are so excited about taking part that they plan to move back to Yellow
Springs, she said.
Until efforts to create an independent Antioch come to fruition, the
faculty members will focus on teaching in their new and varied venues,
according to Ellen Borgersen, president of the College Revival Fund,
which is funding the Nonstop effort.
“This liberated faculty has seized the opportunity to re-imagine
their curriculum,” she said.
Nonstop weekday classes tentatively include the interdisciplinary Visions
of Suburbia, (literature, sociology and cultural anthropology) taught
by Jean Gregorek and Beverly Rodgers; Ecological Sustainability and
Community Economics, (ecological philosophy and management) taught by
Colette Palamar and Hassan Rahmanian; and Revolutions: Theory and Practice,
(cultural and media history and philosophy) with Bob Devine and Scott
Evening and Saturday classes include Ecology and Feminism, taught by
Colette Palamar; The Qu’ran, Mohammed and Islam by Al Denman;
and Spanish Mysticism by Jocelyn Hardman.
Weekend workshops include the history of jazz with Steve Schwerner and
the art of storytelling with Harold and Jonatha Wright. The Nonstop
effort also includes a lecture series, the Al Denman Friday Forum series,
a weeklong learning festival and special films and performances.
Nonstop organizers hope that their offerings spark interest from Yellow
Springers, according to Nonstop literature, which states that “significant
aspects of our curriculum are inspired by the interests and needs of
the immediate Yellow Springs community and its environment.”
Classes are open to everyone, organizers said, and they hope villagers
will take part. Because the campus buildings are now shut down, classes
and workshops will take place in a variety of venues around the community,
according to Rahmanian, who said Nonstop has received over 20 offers
of classroom venues so far.
Currently, Nonstop has about 22 students, according to Rahmanian, who
also said that all but seven Antioch College faculty members chose to
put their energies into Nonstop. Nonstop will also benefit from the
contributions of eight emeritus faculty members, and more than 10 faculty
from area colleges who have volunteered their services to teach, he
In response to audience questions, Nonstop organizers said that they
are not currently accredited and that the summer has proved a difficult
time to pursue efforts to gain temporary accreditation through “sanctuary”
with already-accredited institutions. However, doing so will be a priority
in the fall, according to Eklund-Leen. In the meantime, there is a good
possibility that Nonstop classes will be transferrable to other colleges
if students keep a detailed portfolio of their learning experience,
The vision for continuing the unique Antioch College learning experience
— with its three components of academic rigor, co-op learning
and shared governance — began more than a year ago, soon after
the Antioch University Board of Trustees announced that the college
would close in July 2008 due to financial exigency, according to alumnus
Rowen Kaiser, who is the Nonstop co-community manager this summer. The
vision gained steam throughout the fall and winter, as faculty and students
considered the real possibility that they could continue the Antioch
educational experience off-campus. In February, the College Revival
Fund committed $1 million to Nonstop, and faculty began shaping the
new curriculum in two workshops in the spring.
While two major efforts to negotiate with the trustees for college autonomy
ultimately failed in the last year, a third effort is ongoing. Last
week, the college alumni board and university trustees both passed a
resolution that requested a task force present a letter of intent for
college independence to the board. (See accompanying article.)
Whether or not this effort results in an independent Antioch College,
the Nonstop Liberal Arts Institute aims to keep college faculty in town
in the expectation that the college will reopen in the near future,
according to Borgersen. Toward that end, the effort is funded by the
College Revival Fund through December, and the alumni are currently
raising more funds to continue past that date.
For more information on Nonstop, go to nonstopinstitute.org, or call