Shannon Watkins of the Martin Center devotes her latest column to a new education option in the N.C. mountains.

One of higher education’s perplexing questions is why, in a nation as diverse geographically, demographically, and philosophically as the United States, do most colleges and universities seem so much alike? One answer is that there is so much oversight: from accrediting agencies, from government bodies, and from professional associations, that conformity is assured.

But that does not mean innovation is entirely stifled. One example is CreatEd Institute in Black Mountain, North Carolina. CreatEd is a private, non-profit educational Christian institute that opened in the fall of 2016 and is unique in a number of ways. First, it is unique in its educational mission. To the founders of the institute, education is more than just gaining knowledge and career training: it is about developing the whole person by helping students grow spiritually, intellectually, and professionally.

Second, the institute intentionally limits the size of its student body to foster an intimate learning environment. As such, students start and progress through the program in a small cohort of about 30 or 40 students—and they attend classes and participate in student activities within that cohort for the entire 16 months of the core program. Topics covered in the core program include philosophy, art, anthropology, theology, mathematics, physics, biology, economics, government and law, and literature.

Another aspect that makes CreatEd distinct is its approach to class scheduling. Unlike traditional semester settings, where students take four or five classes simultaneously for 15 weeks, students at CreatEd take a set of classes each semester—but they take and complete a course before moving on to the next one. That way, students can fully immerse themselves in one subject without having to juggle several at the same time.