A new initiative is changing how we teach students at Canterbury Christ Church University and beyond.

Breaking down traditional structures of education to unlock their highest potential, and unharnessing students’ natural curiosity to equip them to thrive in a rapidly changing world.

The Epistemic Insight Future of Knowledge Initiative, based at the University, is reimagining how we learn, and how new generations will use that knowledge to change the world.

Traditionally, knowledge and academia has operated in separate subject areas, such as maths, history, science, art, all of which have their own unique jargon and methods which rarely cross over. This conventional structure of education is based on independent ‘boxes’ of information, which sets confines on how we teach, and constrains how we use that knowledge to find solutions to big issues.

The Initiative seeks to break down these boundaries, and bring these subjects together, removing needless limitations on the expansion of knowledge and revealing its potential to address real-world problems.

Working with over 300 schools and colleges and 10 universities, the Initiative is using this new wave of thinking to encourage the next generation to pursue their curiosity and become creative, critical thinkers, unrestricted by these narrow conventions of learning. This helps students of all ages develop the personal agency that is lacking in traditional education, allowing them to engage directly with the big questions in life that they find truly interesting. Questions such as Why does the Earth exist? And can a robot be a good friend?

The future of knowledge is multidisciplinary, and that is even more true today than in the past. Artificial intelligence is now present in our lives, and it takes a multidisciplinary perspective to consider its impact on education, careers, hobbies and families. That’s why we’re excited to be designing new multi-disciplinary courses for our undergraduates to explore 'what life is like with AI'.

Dr Alison Eyden, Dean of Teaching and Learning

The Initiative is now developing an EI (Epistemic Insight) Search Engine to channel and inspire the innate curiosity of young people, where students can ask questions such as ‘why is the sky blue?’ and get a new kind of answer. The EI Search Engine is unlike any other search engine we are used to. Most search engines will provide the most popular results, giving a list of more or less the same answer, over and over again. The EI Search Engine acts more like a library, offering different answers from different disciplines, so that students can discover that the sky is blue because of scattered light, or that different languages have specific names for the blue of the sky, or that since space is black, a blue sky is just an illusion.

Through the EI Search Engine, students will learn that answers to questions are not fixed or one-dimensional, creating an investigative, open approach to knowledge that is vital to addressing the complex challenges and questions the new generation are facing, such as tackling climate change and navigating the rise of artificial intelligence.

Professor Berry Billingsley, Principal Investigator for the Epistemic Insight Future of Knowledge Initiative, said: “In education it is more often journeys rather than answers that give students reasons and ways to flourish. That’s why the EI Search Engine encourages agency, curiosity, creativity and critical thinking. It is designed to open your mind to possibilities and the multidisciplinary nature of knowledge.”

The Initiative is now starting to work with other countries, generating international interest in the future of knowledge. It is bringing about the opportunity for a huge culture shift across the educational spectrum, and demonstrating the impact this could have for education as route through which people, and society, are able to achieve a higher potential.


Save the date: Thursday 14 September 2023. Join us at Canterbury Christ Church University to 'Discover the AI in your Life'. An afternoon of exciting activities and talks with University staff and students showing how they are integrating AI into their work, research and courses, finishing with an open lecture by Professor Berry Billingsley who will delve deeper into AI, offering valuable insights and predictions. Find out more at AI at CCCU – The Future of Knowledge.

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