LERU & CE7 PhD students discuss ‘the university of the future’ during LERU Doctoral Summer School


The LERU Doctoral Summer School of 2022, entitled “the university of the future”, was hosted by Utrecht University and curated by the Urban Futures Studio. Sixty highly talented PhD students from LERU and CE7 universities came together to talk about rethinking the role of universities worldwide in the face of the challenges of the 21st century.

Do universities help or hinder just transitions? How can universities contribute to a better future? What are the blind spots of our universities? Is the university primarily a place for knowledge production and technology development, or does it have the responsibility to contribute more actively to handling societal challenges? The participants of the LERU Summer School discussed these and more questions during lectures, info sessions and workshops. By inviting interdisciplinary scientists and scholars, and external speakers to lead these sessions, the Summer School wanted to critically reflect on and contemplate how universities could and should position themselves towards societal challenges and their relationship with society at large.

During the whole week, the doctoral students worked on a manifesto that was presented and discussed on the last day of the event during a panel discussion with Rector Magnificus of Utrecht University, Prof. Henk Kummeling, LERU Secretary-General, Prof. Kurt Deketelaere, Chair of the Jonge Klimaatbeweging, Aniek Moonen and Secretary-General of the International Association of Universities, Dr Hilligje van’t Land. The manifesto incorporated the participants’ view on what they believe the imaginatively brave structure of education and research should look like. One of the many things that came out was the importance of deep listening to one another and the audacity for messiness and radical change.

We can conclude that the LERU Doctoral Summer School was again a great success. The doctoral students agreed that this was a highly stimulating learning experience which will be of long-lasting value to their future careers, which is one of the goals of this yearly event.

Summer School 2022