A vision for the future

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The plan lays out objectives, measures and initiatives within these strategic ac

The plan lays out objectives, measures and initiatives within these strategic action areas and also emphasises the freedom to approach education in a creative and innovative way (Visualisation: Vollkorn Kollektiv)

Data and information, health and medicine, materials and manufacturing, and responsibility and sustainability: these are the main priorities set out in ETH Zurich’s Strategy and Development Plan for 2021-2024.

In the spirit of the adage "the whole is more than just the sum of its parts", ETH Zurich bundles its strengths to face the challenges of the future, both in Switzerland and abroad. The 2021-2024 Strategy and Development Plan has set out a vision and mission as well as core values and four strategic action areas, all of which form a guiding foundation for the university and the ETH community. The plan also aims to strengthen the public’s trust in ETH Zurich by transparently presenting the university’s priorities for teaching, research and knowledge transfer.

Learning from the corona crisis

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the world has had to grapple with just how quickly circumstances can change. The same has been true for ETH Zurich, which launched a fast and flexible response to the situation. "The pandemic has shown us the importance of scientific expertise in managing a complex crisis and also how important it is to be able to adapt to rapidly changing situations," says Jol Mesot, President of ETH Zurich. "Scientific expertise isn’t something you can conjure up from one day to the next, but rather the result of decades of development and far-sighted planning."

Four strategic action areas

The 2021-2024 Strategy and Development Plan builds on the existing strengths of ETH Zurich and refines them further. The four strategic action areas - data and information, health and medicine, materials and manufacturing, and responsibility and sustainability - tie into the university’s strategic priorities from the previous four-year period. There are teaching, research and knowledge transfer priorities in each action area that closely link further scientific progress with collaboration between disciplines. Underpinning the four action areas is ETH Zurich’s mission of contributing to prosperity and well-being in Switzerland and cooperating with stakeholders from every part of society to preserve the world’s vital resources.

Values in the spotlight

The Strategy and Development Plan also describes the values that should act as a guide for ETH Zurich’s research and teaching culture: excellence, responsibility, diversity, openness and team spirit. Part of the rETHink project is dedicated to examining our values and culture and putting them into more concrete terms. "The rETHink project is helping us create the conditions for ETH to remain competitive over the next two decades and ensures that our community can continue their outstanding achievements in service of science and society," says Mesot.

A democratic document

The Strategy and Development Plan is the result of a broad, bottom-up process that involved the Strategy Commission, the four university groups, and the academic departments. The process of drafting the strategy helped ETH analyse the landscape in which the university is embedded along with the opportunities and challenges that the future will bring. This involved critical discussion between all stakeholders throughout the university as well as an internal consultation process. The participation of the ETH community ultimately helped create a strategy that reflects the true complexity and diversity of the university.

Gertrud Lindner