Almost all universities are largely located within a physical, and to a smaller degree digital, space. It is a place one goes to, for a certain period of time. Why should this be? Universities are expensive, take up huge acres of land, touch individuals for very short periods of their lives, and are constantly under siege for being ivory towers and generating graduates who are unable to ‘plug and play’. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased the tolerance for a messier learning endeavour where responsibility lies more in the hands of the individual. In 20 years’ time, we might see the physical footprint of NUS reduced, and a distributed network of learning and research pods emerge where one plugs in to learn and apply what one learns out there. Education should be boundless and boundaryless. Can universities lead the way?
Christy Davis is the Executive Director of the Lien Centre for Social Innovation at Singapore Management University, where she works as a social innovator.
Dr Adrian Kuah is the founding director of the Futures Office, National University of Singapore, an internal foresight think-tank tasked to ask fundamental, first- order questions and uncover hidden assumptions to draw insights about possible and plausible futures of higher education.
Katrina Tan is the Associate Director for the Futures Office at the National University of Singapore. Her Specialties include Government, intellectual property, policymaking, facilitation, DISC, education, teaching, geography, literature, and curriculum.