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Future Universities

A series of diverse, yet possible futures for the University of Edinburgh emerged from the first workshop. These future Universities will function within this project as thought experiments; instead of serving as any kind of ‘preferable vision,’ they will be used as source material to inform a discussion around various probable futures and their respective risks and opportunities. In addition, we can use the aforementioned values as a way to qualify what ‘preferable’ looks like to the staff and students at the University. Cross referencing these values with the material captured in these future versions of the University of Edinburgh helped us develop a rich understanding of what a ‘preferable’ future vision of digital education at the University might look like.

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Thought Experiment 1 World 1: Data, data everywhere


  • Datafication
  • Marketisation
  • Tight borders
  • Increased competition

In this world….

Accelerated datafication of everyday life and the normalisation of ubiquitous surveillance makes quantification, measurability and trackability the key markers of value. Data-driven decision making across all sectors positions STEM and data science at the top of the disciplinary hierarchy.

Thought Experiment 2: World 2 A new ecology


  • Climate change
  • Data-driven decision making
  • Compulsory renewability
  • Compassion and global justice

In this world…

Thought Experiment 3 World 3: Human-machine interdependence


  • Automation
  • Human-machine hybridity
  • Personal missions
  • Leisure

In this world...

Thought Experiment 4 World 4: Uberfication from cradle to grave


  • Ageing population
  • Sharing economy
  • Consumer power
  • Unbundling

In this world...