Future University – Edge Zones
February 5, 2013 – 6:47 pm | Comments Off on Future University – Edge Zones

I’ve been thinking a bit about the future of the university, and it seems to me that a new model may be emerging, one that has something of the traditional sanctuary of a place of learning, but that innovatively engages communities, both local and international. There will, of course, have to be those preserves where students and teachers can contemplate their experience and learn together, but there must also be what, for the moment, one might think of as an edge zone where interactions of many kinds might take place.

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What is the 21st century campus?

Submitted by on January 21, 2012 – 4:35 pmNo Comment

By Bill Porter

New universities and university extensions aim for transformational change in education.  They are to house new kinds of research that breach traditional disciplinary boundaries, target intractable and unsolved problems, and achieve new levels and kinds of understanding.  To do this they must break the isolation of higher education by linking it securely to the organizations and institutions that utilize and develop the ideas for society: research linked to commercialization, invention to innovation, theory to practice. And the choice of research subject and priorities must flow in both directions.

The new campus may not be recognizable in terms of the old.  It will contain new kinds of programs and events, activities that integrate groups from outside and inside the university. Beyond the usual space and activities types that characterize the university, it would include settings in which diverse groups could be brought together for casual or concerted work, where multi-disciplinary work might be sparked, and where those, particularly on the commercialization side, might be brought into a working relationship with members of the university community. A blurring of the campus’ edges will create new and exciting districts for interaction and growth.  Proximity with vital urban districts will be an advantage.

This vision will require programming, spaces, and networks of communication that have few precedents in other universities.  Urban design may be a better professional model for the planning and design process than campus planning.  But even more important is the need for a campus strategy that affects every scale of design, from the interior design of exciting new spaces, to buildings that effect symbiotic relationship with their immediate surrounds, and to the integration of a dynamically growing complex into a diverse urban district. And the strategy must provide for dynamic growth and change over time.

Shaping a campus strategy requires deep immersion in the purposes of the university and in the particularities of place and culture.  It requires tools to influence how the campus develops and measures to determine how well it is achieving the intended purposes. 

What is your vision for the campus of the future?


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