Our University, then and now
Founded by the city of Edinburgh in 1583, we were the first true civic university in the UK and one of the four ancient universities of Scotland.
Our predecessors played a central role in establishing Edinburgh as the chief intellectual centre of the Age of Enlightenment.
Our collegial and collaborative approach established entirely new subject areas from geology to epigenetics. Since that time, we have made significant and sustained contributions to a huge range of societal challenges. We have worked to tackle malaria and diabetes and helped improve youth justice. We have contributed to work on global sustainable development and the use of solar power to give displaced communities in camps access to mobile communication.
Members of our community go on to benefit society as engineers, teachers, social entrepreneurs, artists, medics and agents of change. We are the home of Britain’s oldest literary awards, the James Tait Black Prizes, and of Dolly the sheep. Chrystal Macmillan, suffragist and founder of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, was our first female science graduate in 1896.
In 2013, our Emeritus Professor, theoretical physicist Peter Higgs, was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his 1964 prediction of the Higgs Boson.
Our world is faced with a variety of significant and complex challenges, from rising inequality and the mass displacement of people, to climate change and the emergence of artificial intelligence. Established ways of thinking must be challenged, and as a university we are reflecting on what needs to change (and what does not) as we move forward.
To respond to these challenges and do justice to future generations, we need to adapt and work in new ways. We will work through new partnerships with local authorities, third sector, and business, both nationally and internationally.
This is a strategy for the next decade. In a fast-changing world it is difficult to plan much further ahead than that. By focusing on our values, on the civic purpose for which we were founded, and the changes we want to deliver, we can provide a rationale for the University’s future, and financial sustainability.
We have more than 400 years of excellence behind us. Working together, we can make the next 400 years even better.