The Firsts of the Future

On Sunday 10 June 2023, the University opened its doors to our local friends and neighbours for our annual Community Festival.

The day was jam-packed with fun and free activities for all the family, including interactive demonstrations, musical and drama performances, and behind the scenes tours. We also shared stories of world changing firsts that have taken place in the past 199 years of the University’s history. This includes: Rutherford’s 1917 splitting of the atom; the appointment of England’s First Black professor, Arthur Lewis in 1948; the 2004 discovery of Graphene and more…

We’ve made history, now we’re looking towards the future. That’s why we asked visitors to the Community Festival to share their vision for the future with us, by telling us the firsts that they want to see happen in the next 200 years.

Some of our favourite answers included:

A cure for cancer

This was one of the most common answers from our visitors, and understandably so. From Tamar, aged 10, who wrote, ‘I want you to make robots that kills cancer’, to Ste, aged 47, who wrote a ‘cure for all cancer and other illnesses’.

Rest assured, we share Tamal and Ste’s vision. You can read more about our cancer research efforts being conducted at the University here.

Increased access to learning

Many of our visitors wanted us to make learning more accessible for everyone. Including Nathan, aged 9, who told us that he wants to have ‘teachers [who speak] different languages helping people to learn‘, so that no matter where you’re from, there’s a teacher there to help you learn in your native language – what a lovely idea!

Others wanted to encourage more young women to pursue higher education. From empowering ‘female philosophy students to carry out more school indulging activities as a method to promote public philosophy’, by Moheshi, aged 35. To Laura, aged 38, who shared her vision to have more women exploring higher education, specifically in the Sciences.

Supporting talented and deserving students to access education regardless of their background, social or economic status has always been, and remains important to us. You can read more about how we’re widening participation here.

Scientific discoveries

Our community shared dreams of future scientific advancements, including ‘mind mapping’, by Madiha aged 37, and the ‘discovery of the 23rd Amino Acid’ by MK, aged 22.

And many of the children who attended the event showed us just how creative the next generation can be. Belinda, age 10, asked that we ‘make people be able to fly, teleport and make people who are old young’. Fran, aged 5, wanted a ‘machine that turns you into a superhero’ and Nina, aged 5, asked that we find the ‘first real mermaid’.

Finally, one of the most popular answers… teleportation! We have to admit it would be handy to travel sustainably in a blink of an eye. Stay tuned and we’ll see what we can do!

While some of these firsts may seem fantastical, creative thinkers have always shaped our society. By ensuring that people with ambitious ideas can access the support they need to attend university and conduct their research, we can change the world.

You can make your dreams a reality for the next generation by including a gift in your will to support an area that you’re passionate about. Remembering the University in your will costs nothing right now and by leaving as little as 1% to the University, you can make an impact that’s felt for generations to come. Who knows, maybe the first you make possible will be celebrated when we look back at our accomplishments on our 300th anniversary!

If you’d like to find out more about how a gift in your will could make the world changing firsts of tomorrow possible, visit our website here or contact Legacy Officer, Amy Harris at or call 0778 531 5906.

Share your firsts of the future!

Have we included your dream future first? Or would you like to share your dreams for the future with us? Let us know what you would like to make possible in the comments below.

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