Billionaire George Soros said he was committing $1 billion to start a global university to fight climate change and nationalist governments.
The Open Society University Network will offer an international platform for teaching and research, the 89-year-old said Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The university will be a joint venture of the Soros-backed Central European University and Bard College.
“As a long-term strategy our best hope lies in access to quality education, specifically an education that reinforces the autonomy of the individual by cultivating critical thinking and emphasizing academic freedom,” Soros said.
Last year, Soros warned of the “mortal danger” of China’s use of artificial intelligence to repress its citizens under the leadership of Xi Jinping, whom he called the most dangerous opponent of democracies.
In previous Davos speeches, he’s also lashed out at social-media giants Facebook Inc. and Google, saying they need to be regulated. He compared them to gambling companies that foster addiction among users and said that they exploit the data they control.
Soros has become a lightning rod for his political views and philanthropic efforts. A longtime supporter and financial backer of progressive causes and Democratic politicians, he’s become a target of right-wing activists.
Soros closed his hedge fund and converted his firm into a family office. The $25 billion Soros Fund Management now mostly manages money for the Open Society Foundations, a worldwide network of philanthropies.