Experimental Class of Tomorrow (ECOT)

12 students have volunteered to be part of ECOT, a new case study that focuses on 5 big issues facing our planet in the future, framed as ‘concepts’. ECOT stands for Experimental Class of Tomorrow. The team will tackle the pressing issues of their generation. We aim to harness their enthusiasm and curiosity to help create the next wave of scientists ready to face the challenges head on.

1. Food

Inspired by the SPACE10 project, this concept tackles the challenge of growing healthy and sustainable food for a growing global population. Students will investigate how food can be grown sustainably using futureproof recipes to eat better, both for ourselves and for the planet. Table-top hydroponics, mealworm burgers, spirulina bioreactors and dogless hotdogs are on the menu and could be the new normal, tasty and nutritious.

2. Climate & Environment

Inspired by Mike Berners-Lee’s ‘There is no Planet B’ movement, this concept focuses on the climate challenge, specifically through glocal temperature rises, carbon budgets, exponential carbon growth, offshoring carbon, the ‘carbon curve’, the rebound effect, how to keep fossil fuels in the ground, other forms of greenhouse gases, renewable energy and how we can take carbon back out of the atmosphere.

3. Energy

Inspired by work on green energy solutions for future growth, this concept looks at feasible solutions to create ‘green energy’ whilst debunking popular ideas in a field that simply won’t work. Looking at how energy we use, specifically between continents, forces us to focus on the underlying dynamics of energy use, consumption and production.

4. Travel & Transport

Inspired by Elon Musk’s vision for sustainable travel, this concept tackles how humans might travel in the future. The technology exists for EV vehicles, bikes and scooters. Energy use is key within this concept and alternatives to fossil fuelled transport will be considered. This includes hydrogen cars, hyperloops and space tethers. The infrastructures to support these technologies already exist, but can human mindsets shift enough to embrace them?

5. People & Work

Inspired by work on the Paris Agreement (2015) this concept looks at sustainable population growth. There are 7.5bn people living on earth with projections that that might reach 11bn within our lifetime. Do we have the food stocks, infrastructures, energy supplies and space to accommodate such growth? The total combined effect of extraction, emissions, and impact of population pressures will be considered to find some equitable ways forward for humanity.