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Harvard and Endeavor Launch Versity, an Online Professional Leadership Training Platform

Harvard's Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning is located at 114 Mount Auburn St.
Harvard's Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning is located at 114 Mount Auburn St. By Santiago A. Saldivar
By Miles J. Herszenhorn, Crimson Staff Writer

Endeavor and Harvard University announced the launch of Versity, a new online professional development learning platform, in a joint press release on May 2.

Versity will officially launch in June with three courses that are each co-taught by a Harvard professor and a celebrity actor affiliated with Endeavor.

Endeavor is a global sports and entertainment company based in Beverly Hills, California overseeing talent agencies, sports leagues, and brand marketing. Most notably, Endeavor maintains a controlling interest in the company that owns UFC and WWE, the premiere mixed martial arts and wrestling leagues.

Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton wrote in an emailed statement Thursday that Versity is “a new opportunity for Harvard faculty to create high-quality short-form courses with new educational content for different types of learners whom Harvard faculty might not otherwise reach.”

The new platform is geared toward companies that seek to provide their employees with educational opportunities to build leadership skills. Versity is a collaboration between Endeavor and Harvard’s Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning, a University administrative wing that focuses on online learning and innovations in education.

The collaboration with Endeavor to establish Versity will allow professors to share their expertise in a manner that protects the intellectual property of the faculty member and Harvard, according to Newton.

When Versity launches next month, three of Harvard’s most well-known professors will be the first on the platform: Government professor Michael J. Sandel and Michael B. Jordan will collaborate on a course about tech ethics; Harvard Law School professor Jody L. Freeman and Amy Poehler will co-teach a course titled “Purpose, Perspective, and Persuasion”; and University Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cynthia Erivo will serve as the instructors of “How to Bring the Real You to Work.”

Guy Schory, who serves as chief digital officer at Endeavor, said in the press release that Versity “combines results-driven pedagogy with world-class storytellers to bring a unique and engaging perspective to learning.”

“By combining leading global minds, creative talent, and a dynamic, interactive technology platform, we are creating a whole new way to develop the leaders of tomorrow,” Schory added.

Versity expects to unveil additional courses throughout the rest of 2023, according to the press release.

Harvard will use any proceeds it receives from the collaboration with Endeavor to support Versity’s course design and to reinvest in the University’s teaching and learning initiatives, according to Newton.

Versity isn’t the University’s first online educational partnership — the initiative is similar to the $30 million collaboration between Harvard and MIT in 2012 that established edX, an online learning platform that allowed users to take digital courses from the two institutions for free. The virtual learning platform was sold in 2021 for $800 million to 2U, Inc., a Maryland-based education technology firm — though the company’s stock price has since plummeted.

Gates said in the press release that he is “deeply honored” to be teaching one of Versity’s three inaugural courses.

“Since Socrates, great teaching has always been characterized by great storytelling,” Gates said. “Working alongside the brilliant actor Cynthia Erivo, we thread a wide range of riveting narratives into the fabric of our pioneering course on social identity and cultural authenticity.”

—Staff writer Miles J. Herszenhorn can be reached at miles.herszenhorn@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @MHerszenhorn.

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