Is the best way to, already today, see the future for the “physical” part of a university to visit Disneyland, the Woodstock-festivals, or maybe a big soccer-game between Barcelona and Madrid? Yes, how should a Campus look in a couple of years from today? Let´s compare them and see what secrets we might find here.
It is already clear: Education is becoming more and more digital. It is also by that already clear that it is time to start thinking about what to do with the Campus-areas in the future.
It seems, already today, rather obvious that a lot of things that a Campus-area is providing, can be handled digitally instead. So, why should a student, in the future, physically transport oneself to a Campus? Why should even the employees go there, if also they can work digitally?
Everyone that has been to a university have a tendency of already knowing one of the best answers to these questions: It is for “socializing”. It could be in order to socialize with student friends. But it could also be to socialize with a teacher, a colleague, or to study in groups.
In all these situations: socializing is the keyword.
But, there already exist a lot of great physical places where this can be done, and actually also already is done – by students, or employees. Starbucks Coffee is for instance a great place to meet and socialize. They have good coffee, nice chairs, and, not the least, they play fairly nice music during your stay.
Most universities don´t play music at their Campuses.
When thinking in these kind of terms it seems rather obvious for Campus-areas, that in the future wants students, or employees, to physically come, have a lot of things to learn by benchmarking actors like Disneyland, the Woodstock-festivals, or maybe a big soccer-game between Barcelona and Madrid.
That is; if they do not dare to benchmark a bit more radical kind of events, like for instance Burning Man and what you can find here.
But what are actually the differences between these three mentioned benchmarks, and what can we learn from them?
Disneyland: very strong brand. A typical family-kind of thing. But is that, really, what a Campus for a university wants to become in the future? Well, yes, actually why not? There could be huge amounts of families being interested in hanging around at the same place as their own children. So, if your for instance would be a technical university: why not buy a technical Museum, and develop it? Lot of them are also probably rather cheap to buy at this moment.
Some museums are actually already unusually great places for learning. MoMa in New York. The antropological museum in Mexico City. The history museum in Taipei. The museum for photography in Stockholm. There are several museums on the globe to learn great things from, already today.
The Woodstock-festival: Also a strong brand. But maybe a bit messy. So, is that, really, what a Campus at a university wants to become in the future? Well, yes, actually why not? It could be like trying to make the existing Campus-areas a bit more lively than what it is today (but I suggest: maybe skip the worst parts of this analogy). And notice: people that went to Woodstock obviously was willing to travel to a rather dirty old field in nearly “Nowhere”. Why did they? Because there was power, and energy, in Woodstock, and they had well-known musicians on the stage.
So, why should a Campus that today is located far out from anywhere give up? Being located far off could actually be great. Maybe even greater than to be located in the middle of a big city.
Barcelona versus Madrid then: Competition among rivals. Who is going to win? I am on Barcelonas side and you are on the Madrid side. Competition has a tendency of getting an audience. Just like “Britain´s got talent”. Or Colosseum in Rome. We love watching them fight. Like Wrestling. Or, it could be a great, energetic, debate between giants. This is an idea that also might be used for a Campus in the future.
Who would be better in hosting the big intellectual debates in the future?
So, I really do not see any reason at all why these kind of benchmarks should not be of interest for a Campus. It could actually even be far better management-consulting advises embedded in them, than what one at a first glimpse might assume.
And how should a Campus in the future be able to afford to keep up otherwise? The nice flowers, and great lawns, and old, and often rather cool, buildings they have at this moment is actually rather expensive you know. Would it not be somewhat sad just to close them down in a couple of years, or so?
Or, if you instead prefer it, why not try the Tivoli at Copenhagen? The one in the picture above. Their lights during Christmas time is unusually great. It is really a lovely place to be during that time a year. The only problem I have with that analogy is: they only light it during the Christmas. So, what shall we do with the Campus during the rest of the year?
Please start getting to know examples like this, before it is to late.