About Us

Qualia is a term used in philosophical discourse about the mind and the nature of reality. It refers to “what it feels like” when we apprehend stimuli or concepts. As our students have pointed out, it simultaneously captures:
  • The idea that we don’t really “know” something until we’ve had our own conscious experience of it — hence the importance of a hands-on/minds-on learning model;
  • The appreciation that my understanding of something might not precisely match yours — thus the need for deep discourse to bridge gaps among learners; and
  • A rejection of “smartness” as recitation of facts, leading to a culture that celebrates inquiry and deeper understanding.

Jim Hahn

Founder and Educational Alchemist
Chemistry, Great Ideas, Symposium and
Idea Lab Instructor

BA Anthropology, 1989, UCLA
MA Anthropology, UC San Diego, 1991

An inveterate explorer of knowledge, ideas, contraptions and cultures, Jim has taught everything from philosophy to chemistry to Rube Goldberg Machines during his 32-year career in education. As the founder of Areté Preparatory Academy, a next-generation school in Los Angeles, Jim has worked with the gamut of brilliant, independent young minds, pushing them to think deeply, care deeply, and forge extraordinary paths.

Jon Cassie

Co-Founder and Avatar Architect
History, English and Symposium Instructor
Director of the Qualia Institute

BA History / BA Classics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1992
MA History, The Ohio State University, 1995
Ed.D Educational Leadership, UCLA, 2010

In a career spanning a period of immense change in global society, Jon has worked with young, creative student leaders in schools across the country teaching English, entrepreneurship, history, game design, Latin and philosophy. Jon has hired and helped develop the professional talents of highly talented educators who have gone on to develop innovative programs in their schools. His book on gamified instruction, Level Up Your Classroom, was published in 2016.