The An Tir Handbook, 3rd Edition, May XXXIII/1998
Tell Me About...
The University of Ithra
By Baroness Amanda Kendal of Westmoreland
Ithra is many things to many people.
To some, it is the excitement of learning a new skill or craft. To others, new knowledge, or confirmation of what they already know. It is the Joy of imparting one's own knowledge to others, and the discussion that ensues from that. For those who wish to achieve more than learning, it is earning a degree and bearing proudly on one's breast the hornbook, which symbolizes a degree from the University of Ithra.
In a nutshell, it is the main institution of higher learning in the Kingdom of An Tir.
But what is Ithra in reality?To most, it is a weekend of classes, usually on the property of a local school or university. The classes offered can run the gamut from hands-on craftwork to deep philosophical discussion about ethics and attitudes.
Instructors find a special joy from teaching a classroom of eager students (for they all want to be there) and then continuing their research to improve their class over the years. After teaching a class successfully three times, an instructor becomes a Master of that class and receives a medallion and scroll.
Ithra classes are are organized to meet the needs of the local group, thus the classes offered vary from Ithra session to Ithra session, and also from one area to another.
Sometimes an Ithra session will have a theme, such as music and dance, or Norse culture. Sometimes it will be one day with one class, such as the 8-hour "History of An Tir".
The largest sessions of the university are called "Grand Ithra" and each campus tries to have one per year. A Grand Ithra might have 50 classes, with 150 students attending. There will often be "streams" of classes, such as jewelry, or fabric arts, or combat, allowing a student to pursue particular interests or needs. There might be a basic stream which offers classes particularly useful to newcomers and those seeking basic knowledge of the Society and how it works.
Some students pursue a degree, and after at least 60 hours of classroom time, and following a curriculum laid down by the University, they will graduate with an Lector Arts (LA - reader in Arts) or Lector Scientae (LS - reader in Sciences). Master Degrees exist for those pursuing knowledge in a specialized school of learning. Some students only take classes for their own education and enjoyment.
The University is governed by three Regents, headed by the Lord High Regent, a lessor officer reporting directly to the Crown. Each campus is organized by a Chancellor of Ithra, responsible to the Regents.
Ithra credits are not transferable to the 21st Century, nor vice versa.
The University of Ithra was started by the late Master Michael the Black, Mistress Stevanna of Hoghton and their Household in AS XI, as the University of Madrone. Within a year it was chartered as a University within the Kingdom of the West. When An Tir became a Kingdom, it was chartered as a University within An Tir.
The concept of Ithra has spread to other Kingdoms. In the second year of Ithra, Caid started a campus and renamed it Collegium Caidus when they became a Kingdom. That campus provided the staff and organization of Collegium Societatis at the Twenty Year Celebration. For the Thirty Year Celebration held in An Tir, the University of Ithra provided the organization and staff for Collegium Societatis. The Kingdom of the West started its own campus in the second year of Ithra and and changed it to suit the staff and students in that area. Other Kingdoms have used the organization system to found their own Universities.
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