The university of Edinburgh’s Futures Institute – a new department that will build research connections between the university and emerging global trends challenges – has received a boost of £10 million from anonymous donor.
Part of the university’s college of Arts & Humanities the Futures Institute is promising a radical, interdisciplinary and ‘data fluent’ approach to tackling some of the world’s largest problems. It has also emphasised that collaboration and world-changing activities will be core parts of the institutes remit.
The Institute will play host to research projects to tackle major issues across society and the economy. Prospective projects might include how theology can be used to tackle climate change, or how business management can be deployed to alleviate the refugee crisis.
The anonymous £10 million gift will help to restore a wing of the Old Royal Infirmary on Lauriston Place, the prospective home for the Futures Institute, which has been empty since 2003.
Vice-Principal Professor Dorothy Miell, Head of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, said of the projects that the Futures Institute will address: “The world is experiencing major changes: climate volatility, political discontent, advances in artificial intelligence, economic upheavals. This presents big challenges.
“We need different ways of thinking about these issues and of devising new solutions. Edinburgh Futures Institute will make that difference. It will blend theoretical and practical knowledge. It will work with organisations dealing directly with these challenges and curate meaningful interactions between seemingly disparate disciplines. We want our students to embody this approach and our partners to share the vision and help us to develop it.”
To make this happen, the Futures Institute will harness the university’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) and its existing strengths and connections in public policy and finance. Currently, the university of Edinburgh is ranked as the 14th best institution in the world in humanities methodology by THE.
Professor Timothy O’Shea, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, said: “The Institute will challenge us to think differently about how we can affect change, both locally and globally.
“By marrying our world-class expertise in the humanities, arts and social sciences with our sector-defining research in new data technologies, it will produce practical solutions and new approaches for the common good. This generous gift will help realise this vision.”
Rab Bennetts, Founding Director of Bennetts Associates, said: “Transforming the category A-listed Royal Infirmary into the university’s Edinburgh Futures Institute is an incredibly important project for the institution and for the city. The building is one of the top-ten listed buildings in Edinburgh. It has enormous potential for rejuvenation, providing a completely new and more open identity, especially with a public square on Lauriston Place.”