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What Will UW-Madison Look Like in 100 Years?

As a part of WID's Counterfactual Campus, we're asking what the campus 100 years from now will look like.

Counterfactual Campus drawing by Lynda Barry

The WID community gathers daily at 3 p.m. to take a break, caffeinate and converse. Buzz Tea @ 3 is a monthly series that gathers perspectives on different topics focused on ideas and research. The institute’s Twitter followers can also chime in by replying to @WIDiscovery.


“I have thought a little about this, and first of all considered what has happened in the past 100 years (from 1913). In this period, it seems as if there has been radical change in the demographics (social, economic and gender) of who are being educated, the material in which they are being educated, the accessibility of additional information to guide their studies, and a distinct lack of change in the manner in which education is delivered (predominantly classroom lectures, with additional homework assignments, readings, etc)… What is clear is that the current explosion of available information will continue, and that delivery mechanisms will utilize more electronic mechanisms and devices. Education promises to be more interactive and problem-solving based. I would hope that access becomes more universal and removes any economic barriers and reduces elitism in education. However, there is a distinct concern that “authorized” content providers might become more limited — online courses may only be provided by elite institutions and a lack of widespread critical informed review might ensue. ‘Distributed, self-motivated and problem-based’ are adjectives I might use in relation to the question at hand.”

Michael Ferris, WID Optimization researcher

“What’s interesting is that the kids, even though they kind of see some ‘doom’ in the future, there’s an exuberance to the stuff they invent. One invented a volcano school that erupts, and that’s how the kids get out. Another is that the school is made of candy — the students, teacher and everything is made of candy. But then as soon as school starts, it all goes back to normal… Adults in general have much more of a sad view of the future of school. They often see us being under some kind of dome environment… There is a weird agreement that we’ll have a computer chip that will be implanted [in the neck]. They feel that computers and digital stuff will be our future. ”

Lynda Barry, cartoonist, author and Discovery Fellow on doing the Counterfactual Drawing Board Project (watch the video interview)

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