The change management tools for the Learning Landscapes project are designed around the concepts of Efficiency, Effectiveness and Expression.

The Idea of the University tool is concerned with the concept of Expression, or how a university chooses to express itself as an institution, and the forms – material, social and  virtual – that this expression might take.

By focusing on the concept of Expression with reference to the Idea of the University, the Learning Landscapes project is suggesting that Universities look in fundamental ways at the history of how the university has developed as an idea in the UK, and how they might wish to build on the development of those ideas and ideals.

By recommending that universities look backwards, into the history of the university, before looking forwards, to design the university of the 21st century, the Learning Landscapes project is suggesting HEIs engage in an activity that has come to be known as ‘reverse imagineering’.

Reverse Imagineering is an idea which has emerged from the world of computer software design. In technical terms it can be explained as deconstructing the basis of software codes so that they can be reconfigured as modifications of the original code.  Holmes (2008) has suggested ways in which this principal can be implied to other organisational and social settings: ‘ In the same way as you deconstruct a programme, you can deconstruct the internal functioning of a government or an administration, or firm or an industrial or financial group. On the basis of such a deconstruction, involving precise definitions of operating principles of a given administration, or links or networks between administrators, businesses etc, you can define modes of action or intervention’ (Holmes 169). The Learning Landscapes project would like to add Higher Educational Institutions as a form of organisation to which the practice of ‘reverse imagineering’ might be applied.


Holmes, B. ( 2008) Unleashing the Collective Phantoms: Essays in Reverse Imagineering, Automedia, Brooklyn.