Stanford 2025 was a year-long strategy project commissioned by the Stanford University Dean of Engineering to reimagine the future of Higher Education at Stanford and beyond. In my role as a designer on the core team, I was responsible for user research, comparative field research, synthesis work, exhibit design, visual design, and physical building. We communicated our findings in a curated exhibit that projected visitors into the year 2100.
Design Research + Comparative Field Research
I led interviews with 8 Stanford undergraduates and 2 alumni, designed and led an experimental learning experience with 10 undergraduates to further understand how they best learn, and conducted analogous research with my team. We visited a Cirque de Soleil training facility to understand how their performers stay sharp and toured Zappos' Downtown Project initiatives to understand how they are redesigning the experience of a city.
Through this research, we detected patterns in social-emotional distress in students, understood the power of curated serendipity to amplify learning, and were inspired by the inspiration and creativity that evolves from immersing in a field outside of your own.
In addition to this qualitative research, I also surveyed the field of EdTech to understand what innovations were already happening in the field and what new research was fueling those changes. These findings were displayed as plaques (as seen above) at our final exhibit to provide context for visitors.
Synthesis of Findings
After conducting design research, our team reconnected to understand, "what does this all mean?" Five major themes emerged from our synthesis work, and we began asking ourselves:
Ideas for the Future of Higher Education
Based on our research and core themes, we generated a multitude of new version of a higher education experience. Our final four ideas were called Open Loop University, Paced Education, Axis Flip, and Purpose Learning. Many of these ideas were driven by findings from our research which revealed that Stanford students lack self-awareness around HOW they learn and lack purpose around WHY they are pursuing certain paths. Above, you see the "From-To" panels I designed for the exhibit to communicate some key shifts to these future states. For more detail behind each idea, see Stanford2025.com
Building an Immersive Exhibit
To share these new concepts, our team built an immersive museum exhibit experience from the future. We led visitors through a "time machine" that projected them into the year 2100 and invited them to visit this exhibit, a retrospective on the year 2025 when Stanford made major changes to its higher education offerings. Above our images of artifacts I created for the exhibit.
Gratitude for an Amazing Team
The best part of the project was working with this amazing team. Big thank you and hugs to you all! From Left: Jess Munro, Seamus Harte, Carissa Carter, Charlotte Burgess-Auburn, Stacey Gray, Scott Doorley, Tania Anaissie, Ashish Goel, Sarah Stein Greenberg, and Kelly Schmutte.