Our journey to 2057

Suzanne Kearns

Where are we going and how will we get there?

We have bold ambitions for the impact we want to make on the world. To enable these goals, we need to look inward to focus, organize and forecast into the future how we work and create the right environment for our community to thrive. 


These focus areas will help us rediscover unconventionality. For each focus area, we will develop near and mid-term actions to propel us towards these long-term goals. 

Culture 2057

Who we are as an institution starts with our culture. We value our people and recognize our role as an employer that attracts outstanding talent. We will build on Waterloo’s culture through more collaboration and engagement, aligned to our values and with a commitment to bettering humanity and our planet. 

  • We will be nimble and coordinate across disciplinary and organizational boundaries for the betterment of our university and our students. 
  • We will embrace decolonization, Indigenization, inclusivity, equity, and anti-racism into our organizational culture. 
  • We will ensure the physical and mental health and well-being of our students and employees and support them to achieve success in their personal and professional lives.

Graduates 2057

Today’s Waterloo students will be leaders and change-makers in 2057. Our goal is to produce uniquely Waterloo graduates who are transformed by their education to drive positive change in the world. We will embrace new tools and technologies to improve quality, flexibility and accessibility of teaching and broader educational experiences. We will develop innovative models for our educational programs to reach diverse audiences Our graduates will be: 

  • Global citizens centred on humanity, the planet and equity, and connected to their local communities. 
  • Future leaders who leverage a Waterloo education that integrates knowledge and problem-solving within and at the intersections of our Global Futures. 
  • Alumni who never stop learning about themselves, the diversity around them and the world they affect while remaining connected to our institution and community. 

Knowledge 2057

Waterloo’s excellence in research coupled with constantly evolving education will remain the foundation for practical applications and transformative innovations. 

  • We will seek and impart knowledge that improves society, that matters locally and globally. Our research and education will be excellent, relevant and trusted. 
  • We will value knowledge that counts over being counted. We will incentivize students and researchers to make positive changes in society. 
  • We will not rely solely on traditional metrics of student achievement, faculty scholarship and teaching excellence. We will also assess students for their contributions to society and impact and we will find new ways to reward our community for their innovation, collaboration and collective impact in research and education. 

Campus 2057

Where we teach, learn and do our work will reflect our values and culture. While our future campuses are both physical and virtual, we are committed to enabling uniquely personal experiences. We will continue to focus on ensuring that we deliver unique opportunities for engagement that can only be had with a physical presence on our campuses. Physical spaces will remain important places to gather, find and build community, while technology will enhance and enable our work and connections. 

  • Our campus is financially and environmentally sustainable, and carbon neutral. 
  • Our campus is decolonized, inclusive, equitable and accessible physically and economically. Individuals of all abilities, backgrounds and identities should thrive through a deep sense of belonging. 
  • Our campus promotes and prioritizes physical and mental health and well-being.

Evolving our differentiators

Remaining true to our core strengths, what do we want the University of Waterloo to be known for on our way to 2057? How will we get there in ways only Waterloo can? 

Today we are globally recognized for innovation in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – and commercialization of ideas. There is often less awareness of our education and research strengths across the humanities, arts, social sciences, environment and health. Leveraging our strengths in integrating disciplines and working at the intersections, we can also be relied upon as innovators for social good. 

These aspirations guide our evolution, so we continue to innovate and lead in our differentiators. 

The future of co-op and work integrated learning

Waterloo was a pioneer in experiential learning and we continue to partner with employers to create co-operative education that equips our students to become change-makers and leaders in their chosen field. As students go out and help improve the world through co-op, they return to the University to share experiences and inspiration that transform our curriculum and community. 

We will continue to lead and innovate in this space by expanding opportunities for our undergraduate and graduate students and evolving our programming to keep pace with social, technological and economic change. 

By 2057:

  • Our co-op models have evolved with the changing nature of work to be flexible, open and digital, and support employers and industry to evolve accordingly. 
  • We are a global leader in graduate student work-integrated learning that is connected to our research. 
  • Co-op placements for social good – in not for profits, community organizations, global non-governmental organizations – are widely available and pursued by our students. 

The future of fundamental and applied research that is connected

Rigorous and deep inquiry is a fundamental pillar at Waterloo. We do not shy away from unconventional or emerging disciplines or subjects. We thrive where disciplines intersect. Focusing on where we can make the most impact, we will continue tackling global challenges that will benefit our world for generations. Unified by the Global Futures, we will work collaboratively across disciplines, organizational boundaries and with partners across sectors. 

We will expand our research through partnerships that promote Open Science and ensure the knowledge we create is responsibly developed and mobilized for the greatest impact on humanity and our planet. 

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By 2057:

  • We are a world leader in impactful interdisciplinary research and graduate programs that address global and local challenges at the ever-evolving intersections of the Global Futures. 
  • We contribute excellent fundamental research and scholarship in focused areas of strength. 
  • We are recognized leaders in social and policy engagement. 

The future of innovation and entrepreneurship

We will continue to be bold innovators and leaders in entrepreneurship, adding pillars in social innovation and policy engagement aligned with the Global Futures. We will apply our innovative and entrepreneurial spirit in our own communities including our campuses, working with local stakeholders on transformational projects for the region and growing global companies that scale. At the same time, we will use our position as a technology leader to advance ethical and responsible technology.

By 2057:

  • We are the global leader in empowering our community to generate new technology ventures for the good of humanity. 
  • In collaboration with our community partners ventures founded in our region scale successfully with global impact while staying rooted here. 
  • We are a global leader in social and policy innovation.
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The future of community and campus connections

We are proud to be an active member of our surrounding community and of our role in catalyzing and sustaining Waterloo region’s growth into the globally recognized innovation hub it is today. This prominence for innovation will grow to include social and community impact. At the same time, we recognize and promote the development of local economies everywhere as the interdependencies across regions will only deepen.

Our concept of community starts on our own campuses. Our physical and virtual spaces should reflect our bold aspirations for society and the planet: environmentally and financially sustainable, decolonized, accessible, equitable, inclusive and centered on our community’s well-being. 

Our campuses are also places where we can apply our innovations and knowledge to help improve the lives of those within these spaces and our surrounding community. For example, as our surrounding region grows, we will work with partners on innovations to solve local issues such as improving our health systems, ensuring adequate housing and social supports, meeting transportation needs and addressing sustainability challenges. 

By 2057:

  • We will be deeply embedded in the region’s social, economic, and cultural fabric, enriching the experience of students, faculty and staff who connect and contribute to local businesses and communities. 
  • We work collaboratively as an institution and with our local partners to ensure that every member of our community has fair access to prosperity and well-being. 
  • Our decolonized, Indigenized, inclusive, accessible and sustainable campuses are integrated into our surrounding communities. 

Defining unconventional futures

Beyond these forecasts, we will strive to uphold a university culture that allows us to develop and apply bold and unique innovations in education and research far into the future.

To 2057 and beyond, we will continue to ensure we lead at being
un­con­ven­tion­al, to define new futures for the University and for humanity.
Dana Kulic with small robot