Sphere College Project is setting out to pioneer a profound new education system – one that primarily utilizes local community resources to support a greater number of adults to advance their station in life, positioning them to drive important and necessary social change.
that every individual has gifts and talents and the ability
to make unique and positive impacts in the community.
in access to higher education for all adults who desire it,
regardless of circumstances and means.
that higher education is most effective when delivered in an encouraging
and supportive environment with one-on-one mentorship, and personalized curriculum.
that non-competitive, competency-based learning maximizes human potential.
that effective, high-quality education promotes personal and professional enrichment
and results in happy, fulfilled, well-rounded individuals.
that high-quality education for more people is a critical factor for solving
many of the challenges that humanity is currently facing.
Education is a proven marker for both quality-of-life factors as well as for
increased citizen participation in the US.
Therefore, the newest generation of education solutions
will prioritize the needs of the majority, and will:
Sphere College Project is about supporting adults to live their best life…
In January of 2017, Sphere set out to help construction contractors from the African-American community become NC-DOT certified. With the certification, they would have the opportunity to participate in Asheville's booming expansion in ways they were previously not able...
To provide a nurturing, invigorating and inspiring learning environment for adults where they discover their most important goals and gain the competency
to achieve them
A world of thriving, caring individuals contributing to the flourishing of the planet and all its inhabitants through
To make education engaging, and accessible to all adults, regardless of means,
and to instill a love for lifelong learning and
participation in civic engagement for the betterment of humanity
Sphere College Project was founded by Richard Liston in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania in April of 2009 as an educational experiment with a focus on creating the highest quality learning experience for adults. The design of Sphere’s program is heavily influenced by Black Mountain College, a similar experiment in higher learning that existed from 1933 to 1957 and produced some of the world’s most influential artists.
In the beginning, a diverse group of twenty individuals ranging in age from 23 to 80 met in two different groups of ten students each for the course entitled “Self and Other.” This course was intended to form Phase I of the students’ studies – to help the students get to know themselves and others better, and to discover their talents, passions and vocations for enriching the human experience.
Classes met in various donated locations, including the Colonial Theatre, Wolfgang Books, Steel City Coffeehouse, and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Classic texts, such as the Epic of Gilgamesh, Genesis, the Bhagavad Gita, selections from the writings of Galileo, and The Merchant of Venice, to name just a few, were collected by Richard’s former students at Ursinus College and utilized in the courses. Sphere continued in the same manner for the next five years, seeking to become solidified. Some students were constant participators, others came and went. Students accomplished various outcomes as a result of engagement... We briefly hired a teacher for the “Self and Other” course.
During this early period of Sphere the future of the Project was uncertain, but the goal was too important to abandon. In 2012, a store called Local Sphere was opened on Main Street in Phoenixville, with retail space in front for local artisans, and classroom space for the Sphere College Project. A short time after opening Local Sphere, Richard was compelled to move to Asheville for personal reasons and operations in Phoenixville were put on hold.
We are excited that the time has arrived to reinvigorate Sphere by establishing the program in Asheville, NC. Sphere is now an IRS tax-exempt entity, and we are demonstrating our value in the community and our ability to quickly produce results by implementing a Minority Contractor Mentorship Program. The program, which begins to help close the economic opportunity gap in Asheville for African-Americans, provides direct mentorship to contractors for the purposes of helping them become NC DOT DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) certified, and assists in skills development so they can stabilize and expand their businesses. As we demonstrate our viability and value and achieve funding, we plan on implementing a broader version of Sphere’s 3-Phase Mentorship Program in many Asheville communities.
After becoming established in Asheville, Sphere plans to begin development in other communities in the US.
Based in Asheville, North Carolina, Sphere College Project endeavors to create an egalitarian, worker-run organization where mentors, participants (students), staff, and teachers participate in the steering of the organization in harmony with Sphere's Board of Directors.
We are in the beginning stages of our establishment, and are seeking interested community members for participation. If you are passionate about creating a higher education system that works for more members of our community, we'd like to hear from you!
SPHERE COLLEGE PROJECT IS NOT A DEGREE-GRANTING ORGANIZATION