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New History Lab event: ‘The Future Is Not What It Used To Be…’ 24/10/09

November 3, 2009

New History Lab in association with the Creating Academic Learning Futures Project organised a joint event on Saturday 24th October 2009 from 10:00 to 16:30 at University of Leicester.

Malcolm Noble, research student in the Centre for Urban History, commented:  “The New History Lab is thrilled to take interdisciplinarity for historians to its logical conclusion, and work with future studies. By looking at how historians might produce histories of the future, we hope to gain a better understanding of how historians conceptualize the past, and how we use documents and sources to do this.”

The New History Lab is a postgraduate workshop, which runs a variety of meetings and events throughout the University term.  It offers MA and PhD students the chance to discuss their ideas and research in an informal arena.  The Lab can also be found online in their blog, www.newhistorylab.org, and on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/group.php

The ten participants in the interactive day workshop looked at comparisons between Historical Research and Future Studies.  The event involved using Facebook, Twitter and Wikipedia to create virtual future histories, and students worked together to discover what the study of history might be in the future. The scenarios, created by the students, imagined increased digitisation and accessibility of learning content, driven by student demand. The increased share of online and distance learning that the students envisaged was the result of the demand for high quality and relevant university courses rather than environmental concerns – the participants felt confident technological progress will become a solution to its own problems. A barrier to increasing virtualisation in learning was seen to be the accreditation and certification of knowledge function of universities. Students considered the implications of the Bologna process for UK higher education and envisaged three types of institutions in the future – Russel group type of institutions with a strong “brand” for which there is little incentive to change in the future, “Bologna” universities which will follow the process of unification and standardisation of the Bologna process and “Underground” universities, where lecturers from the first two groups will teach clandestine lectures on interdisciplinary, cross-disciplinary and innovative topics, for which there is no place in the standardised curriculum.

CALF, Leicester

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