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The future of student life: participating

Johann Schutte (Houston Foresight Program, Houston, Texas, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 14 August 2017




A research project exploring emerging student needs explored six aspects of student life: living, learning, working, playing, connecting and participating. Participating is explored here. This aspect focuses on the ways that students may become active citizens by participating in civic life. Insights are gained as to how students may engage with universities and governments and how they will contribute to the public sphere. Themes such as voting, (h)activism, transparency and digital strategies to improve governance are explored. This paper aims to summarize two scenarios about the Participating domain from the Student Needs 2025+ project and highlight implications for the future of higher education.


A modified version of the University of Houston’s “Framework Foresight” method was used to explore the future of six aspects of future student life.


The ability of students and citizens to innovate and affect change should not be underestimated. The maker movement and the “life hacking” meme are symbols of the hidden societal energy available to governments to improve the world and solve our pressing issues. For this to be effective, the role of the hacker, and hacktivism in general as a form of civic participation, should be reframed as a positive contributor of change. The relationship between governing bodies and activism is at a crossroads. The current age of interconnectivity offers tremendous potential for governing bodies to include civil contributions and innovation in a powerful, net-positive way. However, the status quo is so often the opposite and those who are being governed are perceived as a threat. There is a need for key players and leaders to creatively act according to innovative paradigms and principles that strategically reconcile the hacked and the hacking for the greater good of society.

Research limitations/implications

In terms of research limitations, the paper is focused on the needs of students and does not purport to be an exhaustive analysis of all of the issues influencing higher education. It views the future of higher education through the lens of students and their emerging needs.


This paper explores student life in its totality as a way to more accurately identify student needs in the future.



Schutte, J. (2017), "The future of student life: participating", On the Horizon, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 177-180.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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