Edinburgh Futures Institute

Reinventing education

Where data meets society

Forging unexpected partnerships

Reshaping the fabric of society


 Why this institute?

clock tower
The world is always changing. However, many signs suggest that we are entering into a new era. Old certainties in societies, democracies and the economy are being disrupted.

Inequality is rising. Mass displacement of people is at its highest level in decades. The rise of artificial intelligence and big data both threatens job security and promises huge opportunities. The climate is changing. No one is immune.

These challenges stretch across the traditional boundaries of national borders, institutional walls and areas of expertise. We need a response that does likewise. The Edinburgh Futures Institute is our answer.


 How will it work?

open fence
The Institute will spark new connections, internally and externally, to bring together people and organisations from across the University and beyond.

It will be where our world-class interdisciplinary expertise in social and data science, the arts, and humanities meets the external organisations that are tackling society’s most pressing needs.

We are seeking partners from all sectors to engage with our leading academics and outstanding students, to co-create tools for the common good, and to incubate major projects.

Through teaching, research and engagement, a key part of our mission is to interrogate how data creates disorder and opportunities within the economy, creative industries and policy.

Only Edinburgh – as a University and a city – can do this. It is home to a major international financial centre and the world’s biggest arts festival. It is a global leader in public policy expertise and is the UK’s foremost centre for data science and artificial intelligence.


 What will we do?

knotted rope
We will assemble experts who can tackle issues from different and unconventional perspectives, gathering many hands to untangle the world’s knottiest problems.

How can economics tackle climate change? Can designers lessen the refugee crisis? What can sociology do to ensure artificial intelligence works for the common good? Can divinity collaborate with management to build a more ethical world? Our academics will share ideas and embark upon joint projects with unparalleled depth and ease. We will develop new research and co-designed teaching programmes that will respond to the world’s most pressing issues.

We will create graduates that are creative, reasoned and thoughtful citizens with the ability to operate amid disruption, difference and volatility. They will not be bound by seeing the world through a single perspective, but will understand how different institutions work and intersect. Upon launch, the Futures Institute will be a network across the University. In 2021 it will move into its permanent home at the heart of the University in the refurbished Old Royal Infirmary.

Explore the building’s timeline


Built on four pillars

Defying boundaries

Defying boundaries

Complex problems are rarely addressed from a single perspective. The University has created a radically different space, free from institutional restrictions, to foster interdisciplinary thinking, teaching and action.

Meaningful collaborations

Meaningful collaborations

Universities alone cannot tackle big challenges. We will collaborate with forward-thinking businesses, NGOs, governments and universities to ask what the future could look like and provoke change.

Data fluent

Data fluent

We will mix our world-class expertise in data science with the arts, humanities and social sciences to better understand key issues. We will explore how data can improve civic services, catalyse creative sectors and address challenges in financial technology.

World-changing activities

World-changing activities

All of our activities – including new programmes, start-up projects, cutting-edge research – will make a change, whether locally or on a global scale. Our outcomes will empower the public, policy-makers, students and partners.

Contact us

Intrigued by partnership possibilities?
Interested in supporting our efforts?
Want to be first to find out about our new courses?

Contact us for partnership, philanthropy and study opportunities