According to 20th-century progressive educator Paulo Freire, education has the potential to be a great liberator or a systematic oppressor. Freire developed a critical pedagogy of liberation, but his efforts to provide widespread access to knowledge and transform the power imbalance between educator and student proved difficult to scale.

Today, technology has significantly improved access to knowledge and changed the very nature of what constitutes knowledge and how we come to learn it. Indeed, 21st-century technology has made it easier than ever to find and produce “open” knowledge: Wikipedia promises free access to the sum of all the world’s knowledge with the tap of a finger, a Google search yields troves of information, instructional channels abound on YouTube and organizations like Khan Academy offer course materials free to anyone living anywhere.

Why, then, is so much of the knowledge we learn in traditional academic settings “closed”? Who stands to win if we keep knowledge locked behind journal subscription paywalls, restricted by narrow copyright and regulated by a small group of experts in a field? Who stands to lose under this model of education?

Examining open knowledge within political, legal and ethical contexts, we will consider how education innovation and emergent models of self-organized learning can empower students to become entrepreneurs and agents of their own education and life pathways. Working together as a hands-on, participatory learning lab, we will research and conduct interviews with open knowledge and education innovation changemakers across academic disciplines and industry. We will publish our research as open education resources (multimedia case studies, articles, and learning modules) licensed under Creative Commons and free to use and remix by students, educators and other citizens around the world.