Gutenberg College introduced a new study program in 2014: the Caps Program. This program requires graduate level academic work, but it is unaccredited, and the course work is unlikely to be recognized by any accredited institution. The Caps Program could be interesting to two kinds of people: (1) those who want to pursue a graduate level education in one of the disciplines listed below; and (2) those who want to take advantage of the educational opportunities (individual courses) offered in conjunction with these programs. In some instances, participation in these courses will be possible at a distance (via internet). The Caps Program is a bit unusual and will require some explanation.
Gutenberg College has long wanted to offer masters’ degree programs in a few fields. However, a variety of accreditation requirements have proven obstacles to doing so. Therefore, in order to cut the Gordian knot, we have decided to start a program that is completely outside the accreditation process and hence unaccredited. This is the Caps Program.
The Caps Program takes its inspiration from education in the first universities that came into being in the Medieval Period. At that time, students studied under one or more masters (professors) until they had mastered the discipline. Once they had received such mastery, they were awarded with a symbol of this accomplishment—a hood, a special robe, or some other accessory—that could be worn and thus signify the status the student had achieved. The garb worn at graduation ceremonies today is descended from these symbols of achievement.
Gutenberg’s Caps Program imitates medieval education practices in two important ways. First, this program is competency based rather than course-requirement based. In most college programs, students earn their degrees by satisfactorily passing the required courses; most, if not all, of the courses are generally taken at that institution. The Caps Program is competency based, so it does not matter where or how the student gains the competency. This means that students can study on their own, make use of MOOCs online, take classes at any college—in short, take advantage of any educational opportunities that improve their competency in the field. They just need to gain the required competency.
Second, students who demonstrate the required competency will earn a “Cap”—that is, they will be rewarded with a cap (a hat) as a symbol of their accomplishment. The design of the cap has yet to be determined; however, it will be distinctive, attractive, and not too exotic.
Students demonstrate competency through an examination or battery of examinations administered by three examiners who already have Caps in the discipline. The nature of the exams (written, oral, etc.) will be determined by the “Caps” who administer them. (A “Cap” in this context refers to one who has a Cap.) Once a student passes the exams he is awarded a Cap.
Gutenberg is initially offering Caps in six disciplines: The New Testament in English, The Greek New Testament, Old Testament Exegesis, New Testament Greek, Philosophy of Science, and Music History. For each of these disciplines, standards have been developed that outline the range of knowledge that must be mastered in order to receive a Cap.
To begin the Caps Program, four Gutenberg individuals have been designated as honorary Caps. These individuals are masters (by education and experience) of the discipline in which they have been given an honorary Cap. They will serve as sponsors (advisors) and examiners for the first Caps students.
The Caps Process
The process for earning a Cap is as follows:
- A student reads the standards listed for the Cap that he wants to earn. In order to receive a Cap, the student will have to pass a series of exams to demonstrate his competence with respect to each of the standards.
- Once a student knows what the standards are, he can just start learning. Registration is not required, and there are no course requirements.
- At some point (we recommend sooner rather than later), the student will need to contact someone with a Cap in the student’s chosen discipline who will act as the student’s sponsor (advisor). The sponsor will recommend ways for the student to gain the competency that he needs.
- When the sponsor is confident that the student has mastered the standards of the discipline, the sponsor, in coordination with two other Caps, will set up exams and administer them. When the student has demonstrated competence to the satisfaction of the panel of Caps, he will be awarded a Cap.
- A record of the student’s Cap will be kept in the office of Gutenberg College, and it will include the date of award, the name of the sponsor, and the names of the examining panel members. In addition, the record will list the sponsor pedigree of the student’s Cap. That is to say, it will list the student’s sponsor, the student’s sponsor’s sponsor, etc.—all the way back to the original honorary sponsor. To cover administrative costs and the cost of the cap (hat), there will be a one-time charge of $100 for each Cap.
- Once the student has earned a Cap, he will be qualified to be a sponsor and to serve on an examining panel.
Although there are no required courses for earning a Cap, Gutenberg College will offer courses that will help one gain the competency for a Cap. Upon successful completion of these courses, the student will receive a Capella. One can earn several Capellas en route to gaining a Cap, but one cannot receive a Cap simply by earning a number of Capellas. The only way to earn a Cap is by passing the battery of exams. The award for completion of a Capella has not yet been designed, but it will probably be a patch or pin.
Caps Program Disciplines
Caps in the following disciplines are currently being offered: Music History, Philosophy of Science, New Testament in English, New Testament in Greek, Old Testament Exegesis, and New Testament Greek. Use the links on the right to see a description of each Cap.
For more information about the Caps program, contact the Gutenberg office (firstname.lastname@example.org). For information about a particular Cap, email the Gutenberg office and indicate to whom you would like your email directed:
Music History Cap: Dr. Eliot Grasso
Philosophy of Science Cap: Dr. Charley Dewberry
New Testament in English Cap: Dr. Jack Crabtree
New Testament in Greek Cap: Dr. Jack Crabtree
Old Testament Exegesis Cap: Dr. David Crabtree
New Testament Greek Cap: Dr. David Crabtree