Santini Basra

Collaboratively building higher education futures – Using design techniques to build collaboration into the visioning and strategy process

This talk will focus on our recent work with the University of Edinburgh in which we explore various ways to involve the University’s community (students, staff, locals) in collaboratively building visions and strategies for various initiatives. In particular, the talk will reflect on our use of design methodologies in this work, reflecting on the impact of blending a design and futures approach in these contexts. The talk will primarily focus on Near Future Teaching (, a project exploring the future of digital education, but will also touch on related work with the Edinburgh Futures Institute ( Initially, it will give a high level overview of these projects, before focussing on specific moments in the process, in order to demonstrate and discuss the added value of using design within a futures approach as a way to stimulate discussion, increase project engagement, and help to communicate findings.


Santini believes that long-term thinking in innovation can lead us to better and more sustainable decisions now. In 2016, he founded Andthen, a small design strategy consultancy based in Scotland which is investigating this belief, and exploring ways to think about the future that can positively affect the present. Through marrying design research with futures thinking, Andthen help its clients better understand the communities they are serving, and anticipate how the context they operate in, or the people they serve may change over time. Santini has worked with a broad range of clients, across sectors such as mental health, retail, finance, education, and construction, investigating the role of a blended design and futures approach in these contexts. In addition, he is a visiting lecturer at the Glasgow School of Art, teaching futures methods to students at the Innovation School.

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