How we work

The work of the 21st Century Lab has evolved over time. Just as we propose that universities should become more permeable, we aim to work in this way ourselves. As such, the work builds on multiple discussions and interactions with people fulfilling different roles in universities, with different types of universities in different regions and countries as well as with thought leaders from outside of the Tertiary/ Higher Education sector.

Steps along the way

  • The development of our first publication, Thinking Ahead, which provided a provocation for the ensuing work. Thinking Ahead was based on a series of 1:1 interviews with a range of leaders from different sectors across the world interested in higher education.
  • We set out to engage with the university community and those involved in HE policy, drawing on expertise from a range of different countries who share some similarities in the development of their HE systems: the UK, Australia, South Africa, Canada, the USA and Ireland.
  • We have worked with a reference group from universities in these countries to shape our second publication, the response to thinking ahead. The reference group have participated in a range of discussions and have challenged the development of our Manifesto along the way as well as commenting on drafts and connecting us to related research and projects.
  • We have conducted qualitative focus groups and quantitative survey work with our student body and their views are also represented in the manifesto.
  • We have taken up speaking opportunities with sector representative groups, across the world to help iterate and refine our ideas further.
  • We conducted a review of relevant literature capturing research and views on the role of universities as well as the changes observed in the world around us.

We are conscious that however broadly the net is cast there will also be perspectives and activities uncaptured. The manifesto sets out some ideas for the purpose of universities and their interrelationship with changing society and we hope it will stimulate further discussion beyond this contribution.

Please get in touch if you would like to join the discussion.