(I wrote this piece originally a month ago for a competition in The Ring, the University of Victoria’s self-published vanity newspaper. The competition asked for visions of what campus might look like in fifty years’ time. Predicting the future is always fun!
It wasn’t chosen as one of their winners.)
The UVic of 2063.
The UVic of 2063 focuses on the strengths of the university system. Acknowledging the value of social and career connections made while at university, almost every building on campus comes equipped with cafes serving free coffee and tea for students (with charges for treats and fancier drinks). Large seating areas are the norm, rather than the exception.
Within classrooms, this atmosphere of shared experiences continues, with most courses focusing on in-community projectwork and small group discussions. One perhaps startling transformation has been the elimination of lecture classes, whose material is now almost exclusively packaged as digital ‘pre-homework’ to be accessed before classes even officially begin. As a result, most lecture halls on campus have been converted into performance spaces or renovated to accomodate multiple smaller classes. Esteemed ‘celebrity’ professors occasionally holographically lead classes from the comfort of their own homes.
Also within the classroom, there has been a near-complete transition from chairs to standing desks (save for those with physical difficulties). Standing desks have even now been proven to boost acuity, productivity, and health. And in a world where most students have wearable computers and implanted enhancements powered by the sugars and pulses of their wearers’ bloodstreams, the institution can hardly ask students to set aside their technology before entering the classroom. Instead, classes encourage the use of in-the-moment digital research techniques not only for projects, but also for use while contributing to conversations.
All around campus, building on UVic’s identity as an eco-conscious campus, after decades spent eliminating wildlife on campus – first with the rabbits, which in turn removed the owls and hawks, and then later removing deer after two high-profile car accidents – the university administration has pulled an aboutface and diligently worked to reintroduce as many species to the campus environment as possible. This has included a healthy rabbit population, once architectural improvements were made to secure building foundations from the burrowing animals.
With sustainability in mind, most trees, plants, and bushes on campus now produce edible crops, with students encouraged to snack on apples, plums, pears, blackberries, and raspberries – or even a dandelion leaf or stalk of kale – between classes. While grassy fields still exist outside the main library and as fields for sporting events, all other formerly non-functional lawnspace on university land has been allowed to grow into natural landscapes.
In an effort to promote higher education, the provincial and federal governments have set up two student loan systems, one similar to our current model, and another aimed at making education more accessible, which instead deducts a percentage of the student’s earnings for ten years post-graduation, effectively functioning as an income tax.
One misstep was the construction of a new intestine-inspired building, found to be even more confusing to navigate than Cornett. On the whole, however, the UVic of 2063 is a vibrant, active learning community treasured for its education experience.
(Not too bad, eh? A few neat extrapolations based on current trends, a few in-jokes for UVicers… well, I like it, anyway.)