Call for Participation: The Long Now Foundation Summer Teacher Institute

Posted on Wednesday, January 20th, 02016 by Laura Welcher
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The Long Now Foundation Summer Teacher Institute

Fostering Long-term Responsibility

Fort Mason Center, San Francisco

August 8-10, 02016

“Civilization is revving itself into a pathologically short attention span. The trend might be coming from the acceleration of technology, the short-horizon perspective of market-driven economics, the next-election perspective of democracies, or the distractions of personal multi-tasking. All are on the increase. Some sort of balancing corrective to the short-sightedness is needed—some mechanism or myth which encourages the long view and the taking of long-term responsibility, where ‘long-term’ is measured at least in centuries.”

-Stewart Brand, Co-founder and President of the Long Now Foundation



When today’s students become tomorrow’s civic leaders and entrepreneurs, they will confront global environmental and societal challenges that require long-term strategies and solutions. The Long Now Foundation is offering a new program—the Summer Teacher Institute—to engage with educators to develop middle and high school curricula that will better prepare students for these challenges by cultivating their ability to think critically, frame issues, and solve problems using time frames that include centuries and even millennia.

During a three-day engagement including interactive presentations with Long Now thought leaders and hands-on sessions using Long Now’s multi-media and museum resources, participating teachers will design creative and compelling curricula that foster long-term thinking skills within a wide range of subject areas and disciplines.  Teachers will leave the Institute with a new approach to framing critical thinking and problem solving in a long-term time horizon; concrete curriculum activities to implement in their classrooms that build long-term thinking skills; and a new network of Long Now educators committed to fostering long-term thinking and responsibility among its students and schools.


The Long Now Foundation was established in 01996* to develop projects to challenge our short term attention span and time frame and embody the notion of deep time. It hopes to provide a counterpoint to today’s accelerating culture and help make long-term thinking more common through its ambitious projects such as:

  • The 10,000 year clock, a mechanical clock that ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.
  • The Rosetta Library, a publicly accessible digital library of human languages.
  • Revive & Restore, an initiative to selectively bring back extinct species.

The Long Now Summer Teacher Institute is an opportunity for educators to collaborate on creating practical teaching approaches and learning activities that develop long-term thinking among their students with the intention of cultivating graduates with the skills and responsibility to balance the short and long views of civilization.



  • 12th grade history of science students discussing the long-term implications of a world without disease;
  • 6th grade humanities students prototyping what farming looks like in a century;
  • 10th grade science and humanities classes comparing the outcomes of immediate short-term interventions with long-term strategies for living with severe drought;
  • 8th graders exploring urban life by examining a specific city’s history, present and future across centuries to determine what has changed and what remains constant.

The Summer Teacher Institute is designed to take educators through a three day schedule of provocative conversations with experts, field trips, and hands-on problem-solving activities that culminate with the development of implementable curriculum activities.


Day 1: Orientation – Exploring long-term thinking and its significance to K12 education

The program on Day 1 will welcome participants and orient them to the purpose and rationale of the Summer Institute by sharing the Long Now Foundation’s history and current projects, such as the 10,000 Year Clock, the Rosetta Project, and Revive & Restore. Participants will take a field trip to The Interval—Long Now’s cafe-museum—to observe thought provoking artifacts such as the robotic chalkboard, the chime generator and orrery for the 10,000 year clock, and others to expand their sense of time horizons. Interactive sessions will include short presentations (live and via video) and hands-on activities with Long Now thought leaders, such as Stewart Brand, Paul Saffo, and Alexander Rose the Executive Director of Long Now. Sessions will focus on immersing participants in key concepts and perspectives of long-term thinking, such as Pace Layering, and how these concepts can support critical thinking and real-world relevance in K-12 curricula.

 Day 2: Application – Hearing from Long Now Teacher Pioneers

On Day 2 participants will hear from 3-4 pioneering long-term thinking educators who have introduced activities in their classrooms that foster long-term thinking and responsibility.  One concept we will explore in depth is Pace Layering, a framework that helps make the abstract idea of time horizon and change concrete. The Pace Layer framework relates well to critical thinking and problem solving in a wide range of disciplines and thematic areas such as sustainability, race and culture, global movements, poverty, current events, art, and innovation.

In large and small groups, discussions will highlight the purpose and process of the curriculum activities, key strategies for integration, and expectations for learning outcomes.  Participants will have the opportunity to engage directly in Pace Layering curriculum activities to experience its potential as a pedagogical tool.  The day will end with each participant brainstorming possible applications in their own classroom or school.

Day 3: Personalization – Creating curriculum prototypes for the classroom

On the final day participants will design their own curriculum activity using flexible design templates and creative processes.  Teachers will work in individual and small group design sessions with feedback and support from Long Now mentor teachers and resources specialists. Teachers will form small group instructional design teams to provide immediate feedback and opportunity for revision.  The day will end with a long-term thinking curriculum showcase and a roadmapping exercise to help the group plan their implementation and mutual support after they leave the Institute.  Two web-based update and sharing sessions will be scheduled to provide support during the school year.

Who should apply?

The Long Now Summer Teacher Institute is well suited to forward thinking, creative educators at the middle and high school level who are interested in trying new teaching approaches and creating curriculum activities that help students build the thinking skills necessary for tackling the global environmental and societal challenges before us.  Classroom teachers, administration, and instructional designers are all welcome to apply, provided they are in a position to work directly with students to implement long-term thinking curriculum activities.

The Long Now Foundations is interested in building a network of educators who will bring a long-term perspective into their classrooms and curriculum.  There is no cost to attend the Long Now Teacher Summer Institute.  All meals and materials will be provided by Long Now. Participants will pay for their lodging and travel.

Participants are encouraged to implement one long-term thinking activity with students within their school year and report back using a simple feedback and evaluation form provided by Long Now.  An honorarium of $225 will be provided to teachers who write up their curriculum activity evaluation in a descriptive, narrative format to share on the Long Now Blog.

The Summer Teacher Institute is limited to 25 middle and high school participants. To apply, please complete this form.  The application deadline is March 1, 02016. For more information contact


  • Bob Coppock

    Has anybody talked with the people at CSU East Bay on what they have been dong?

  • Dennis Vavrek

    The most noble premises require the most patient players;
    Progress being purely selfish, pure principle perfectly being selfless…unownable.

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