What is the Free University?

The Principles of the Free University

The Free University of New York City is an experiment in radical education and an attempt to create education as it ought to be, building on the historic tradition of movement freedom schools. First conceived as a form of educational strike in the run up to May Day, 2012, the Free University has since organized numerous days of free crowd-sourced education in community centers, museums, parks, public spaces, and subway stations in New York City.
Our project is born out of a recognition that the current system of higher education is as unequal as it is unsustainable, while vast sources of knowledge across communities are all-too-hidden and undervalued. With increasing tuition at public and private universities, the exploitation of adjunct labor, and the larger and larger amounts of debt that students are expected to take on, a university education is systematically becoming a rarefied commodity only available to the few. It is in this context that the Free University operates as a radical and critical pedagogical space of study and action. We collaborate on the following goals and principles:

  • to be a cooperative enterprise working for a new form of education that re-defines what it means to be educators and students.
  • to prefigure a more democratic, horizontal, and radical educational structure.
  • to empower ourselves, each other, and our communities to become decision-makers in our own processes of self-education.
  • to expose the inequities of the existing university system.
  • to intentionally and conscientiously create educational spaces that are anti-oppressive, anti-racist, and anti-authoritarian.
  • to fight against the casualization and precaritization of academic labor.
  • to join others who see education as a form of direct action by withdrawing from the failing capitalist education system, and collaborating in the realization of a more accessible education for all.


In realizing these shared principles, we will reinvigorate the Commons by utilizing public spaces throughout the city. Free education is a right!!!