Students Travel To 2025 To Question The Future Of Higher Education

Students Travel To 2025 To Question The Future Of Higher Education
Design & Architecture

They learned about four possible future higher education tracks, or could create their own.

Tiffany Nesbit
  • 9 may 2014

The year is 2100 and Stanford University has presented an exhibit that highlights and celebrates changes in higher education that began in the year 2025. Before you reflect on these changes, you have to understand what education looks like in 2100. There are four options… unless you’re interested in creating your own educational system, which is completely feasible.

‘Stanford 2025: A Retrospective Of Learning and Living on Campus’ is an exhibit launched by students in Stanford’s Institute of Design program, or, that envisions the future of higher education. Because so much educational focus has been centered around online learning, students were asked to consider what a residential college experience might look like in the future. It considers how students prepare for college, how they decide what to study, how they go about studying and the needs and expectations of future employers.

The ‘Open- Loop University’ model is a non-linear 6 year program. The 6 years are distributed over the course of your life at your own choosing, that way students get to work and learn new skills as they need them. In addition, people can apply whenever they’re ready, whether thats before they’re 17 or well into adulthood.


The ‘Paced Learning’ model has three phases that each last between 6 and 24 months. During the first phase students take hundreds of one-day and one-week courses, so they get a good idea of what study would be like before choosing a program. They live with their professors and wear bands that compute their stress loads and performance levels so students don’t become overwhelmed. Students only progress to the next phase when they are ready, and they only leave the university when they feel they are ready to apply what they learned to the real world.

The ‘Axis Flip’ model has no majors or transcripts. Students spend time in 10 different information hubs where they learn skills in things like communication, quantitative reasoning, and creative confidence- things that can be applied to any job. When they leave, they get a ‘skill print,’ which shows employers not what they’re done but what they have to give.

Finally, the ‘Purpose Learning’ model gives students missions instead of majors. Students don’t say things like ‘I’m studying biology.’ instead they say ‘I’m studying human biology so I can learn how to eliminate world hunger.’ Students are required to think about why they want to go into a field, and spend a year at one of many impact labs located throughout the world. Here, they get to see the real-world impact their studies have in society.


The Stanford2025 project was funded by the dean of engineering and included 3 courses, a series of workshops, tool development, and access to a project team to help bring the student’s ideas to life. Students worked on their ideas both in and outside the classroom over a year, and have just officially opened the exhibit. According to the project website, the program was designed in hopes that viewers get a spark of their own vision of the future and try out those ideas using the tools on the Stanford2025 website.

Stanford2025 // Design Your Own Future

[h/t] Stanford Daily

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