Special |

The University Experiment

Universities have been centres of education and discovery for centuries. But today they are also supposed to be engines of economic growth, beacons of equal opportunity, laboratories for new modes of learning and more. Change is being thrust upon them at an unprecedented rate. Nature looks at some of the myriad ways that universities around the world are responding, as they try to shake off old habits of thought and explore new ways of doing things.


The accelerating pace of change in today’s world means that universities must modify how they fulfil their function of seeking and sharing knowledge.

Editorial | | Nature

From the archive

Massive open online courses are transforming higher education — and providing fodder for scientific research.

News Feature | | Nature

Undergraduate textbooks are going digital. Declan Butler asks how this will shake up student reading habits and the multi-billion-dollar print textbook market.

News Feature | | Nature

Harvard is embarking on an experiment to foster collaboration and interdisciplinary research. Corie Lok looks at whether it can change its culture and reinvent communities along the way.

News Feature | | Nature

Pittsburgh's universities are helping the city to emerge from its Rust Belt roots and forge a knowledge economy. Paul Smaglik reports.

Careers and Recruitment | | Nature

The second phase of the German Excellence Initiative is helping scientists and universities. But sustaining its gains in the long term could be a challenge.

Feature | | Nature

Harvard University president Larry Summers was heavily criticized last year when he claimed that differences in innate aptitude, rather than discrimination, were behind the failure of women to advance in scientific careers. Some other academics agreed with Summers' analysis: “rubbish”, to paraphrase the views of female-to-male transgendered scientist Ben A. Barres.

Commentary | | Nature

Women are still underrepresented in academic science, and universities are struggling to do something about it. But there are efforts afoot, reports Robin Mejia.

Special Report | | Nature

A standard test for admission to graduate school misses potential winners, say Casey Miller and Keivan Stassun.

Column | | Nature