Learning Minds

Joint forces for the future of learning

EPFL and ETH Zurich, Switzerland’s two federal institutes of technology, team up to offer their first joint doctoral program in the learning sciences funded by the Jacobs Foundation.

With their joint doctoral program, EPFL and ETH Zurich aim to train experts to draw on their technological and scientific knowledge to advance teaching and learning. The learning sciences sit at the crossroads of several disciplines. They require experts from an array of fields who are eager to put their expertise to work to improve education while advancing the understanding of human cognition and learning. The new joint doctoral program is especially aimed at Master’s graduates from the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – who have a keen interest in learning and education.

A significant step

“Our goal is to train experts who can address education-related issues by drawing on a scientific background,” says Pierre Dillenbourg, EPFL’s Associate Vice President for Education and head of EPFL’s Computer-Human Interaction in Learning & Instruction (CHILI) laboratory. He conceptualized and designed the joint doctoral program with Manu Kapur, who holds the Chair of Learning Sciences and Higher Education at ETH Zurich and heads up ETH Zurich’s Future Learning Initiative.

“Research shows that traditional methods of teaching are often not optimal,” says Manu Kapur. “Our joint program is a significant step for the learning sciences in Switzerland, but also for science in general, as it sets the framework for joint programs in other fields to be established.”

“Collaboration is key to driving innovation, which is why we are delighted that these two high profile institutions are jointly offering this program which will shape the future of learning,” says Simon Sommer, Co-CEO of the Jacobs Foundation.

A new generation of learning scientists

With this new program, the two universities aim to bring about a generation of learning scientists who leverage advanced research and cutting-edge technology to improve the way subjects are taught across the entire education system. The goal is to develop teaching methods that equip students with the skills they need to meet the challenges of our rapidly transforming society. The new EPFL-ETH Zurich program funded by the Jacobs Foundation starts in Spring 2022 and will run four years.

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ETH Zurich