Interdisciplinary Research shaping the Future of Learning

The Future Learning Initiative (FLI) leverages and builds upon our existing strengths in secondary and higher education to develop the world’s leading centre for research in the science of learning and advance ETH’s reputation as the globally leading learning institution.

FLI brings together more than 20 professors from 10 departments with the goal of synergizing existing expertise, while simultaneously accelerating impact through coordinated inter-departmental and inter-disciplinary collaboration.

Our goal is to transform the higher education system by:

  1. Understanding the nature of formal and informal learning as a complex phenomenon across multiple, interacting levels: neural, cognitive, embodied, social, and cultural;
  2. Translating research into practice, first at ETH Zurich and then at the gymnasium, by designing cutting-edge applications in domain-specific learning, learning environments & technologies, and learning & data sciences;

The initiative seeks to advance the science of learning through:

  1. one new tenure-track assistant professorship on STEM learning;
  2. a center for engineering education; and
  3. an interdisciplinary set of projects, such as neuro-embodied basis of physics concepts, mixed reality learning environments in medical and bioengineering education, physical spaces and learning, interdisciplinary in life sciences education, embodied learning and gaming, enhancing abstract mathematical cognition, learning of ethics, as well as several longitudinal projects.
Collage of all the team members, please refer to the team page for the list.


CVE Simulation for Differential Diagnosis

Ethics Education

Neural Bases of Physics Learning

Advancing Interdisciplinarity in Life Science Education

Storytelling in Biology Education

Learning of Quantum Chemistry

Embodied Interaction for Mathematics Learning

Effectiveness of Project-Based Learning for Engineering

RoADS: Routes of Academic Development in STEM


Principal Investigator

Manu Kapur


Elsbeth Stern


Christoph Stadtfeld


Christoph Hölscher

FLI Colloquia

To enable robust exchange of ideas, all members of the FLI regularly attend a monthly colloquium, where doctoral students, post-docs as well as visiting scholars present ongoing work of their projects. Regular exchange of this kind is important for developing boundary-crossing projects and a joint scientific identity.

Starting from September 2021, the FLI Colloquia will be part of the ETH course catalogue. Students will be able to attend the FLI Colloquium for 0.5 ECTS credits for each semester. In order to get their credits, students have to either present their research in a 30min talk followed by 15min Q&A or critically evaluate one or more talks in the form of a short essay.

FLI Colloquia take place on the last Fridays of the month and are hosted by Prof. Manu Kapur.

The FLI Colloquia is held in person, hybrid and online (see table below for more information).

Dates and content:

24th February 2023

3:15 – 4pm


Choose Wisely: Promoting Strategic Learner Choices in Intelligent Tutoring Software for Early Algebra
Prof. Tomohiro Nagashima, Junior Professor, Department of Computer Science, Saarland Informatics Campus, Saarland University

31st March 2023

3:15 – 5pm


More than an opinion: qualitative research through an example of a study on teaching under COVID
Dr. Helena Kovacs, Scientist, Centre for Learning Science, EPFL
Sustainability and Ethicality in Students’ Software Design – a qualitative study employing think aloud protocols
Dr. Siara Ruth Isaac, Scientist, Centre for Learning Science, EPFL

28th April 2023

4:15 – 6pm

LEE E 101 / on Zoom

The light and dark side of emotions in learning: A case study of shame during failure-driven problem-solving
Dr. Tanmay Sinha, Post-doctoral researcher, Professorship for Learning Sciences and Higher Education, ETH Zurich
Investigating the neural bases of intuitive physical inference
Gabrielle Zbären, Doctoral student, Professorship for Learning Sciences and Higher Education, ETH Zurich

26th May 2023

3:15 – 5pm

HG F 33.1

Dr. Richard Lee Davis, Post-doctoral researcher, Computer-Human Interaction Lab for Learning & Instruction, EPFL
Juan Carlos Farah, Research Assistant, SCI STI DG, EPFL

Zoom link: will be provided after registration. Please contact Sara May ( for a registration without earning the 0.5 ECTS credits.

More information on the FLI colloquium can be found in the ETH course catalogueIf you have any questions, please contact Sara May.

Group of students in a lecture

Image (ETH Zürich / Alessandro Della Bella)