This section intends to provide a brief overview of Living Lab lifecycles, the theory and pedagogies they capture. Detailed guidance on the theory and value of a Living Lab has been previously produced by EAUC (2017). This guidance aims to provide an entry point for understanding Living Labs and share examples through case studies of how this theory is being applied in a very practical way rather than replicate previous more theoretical articles.
A Living Lab can be pedagogical where applied learning is promoted through utilisation of the campus or community as a test bed for innovation and progressing sustainable development. Where Living Labs take place within the research domain of an institution, this is both a concept and a process for research and innovation implementing potential solutions to the sustainability challenges.
There is a vision for tertiary education to develop a full and holistic approach to learning and research that fulfils and maximises pedagogical and research potential. The aspiration is to achieve a continuously evolving Living Labs cycle. Figure 2 below provides a basic model for the Living Lab cycle; one that demonstrates applied learning and/or research with informed innovation implemented on the campus or in the community, highlighting the idea of a ‘test bed’. The impacts of such implementation should then be analysed through effective on-going monitoring and evaluation to offer future recommendations enabling the Living Lab to evolve and develop appropriately based on technological and informed developments, as well as changing environmental forces and social change.
The University of British Colombia (UBC), Canada, is an international example and world leader in creating a whole-institution multi-stakeholder Living Lab for continuous improvement towards sustainability. As owner-operators of their campus grounds, infrastructure, buildings and roads, UBC are able establish a fully integrated and cohesive approach to learning and teaching, research and innovation. Although a Living Lab of this scale may seem ambitious for some, there are learnings from this that can benefit staff in all tertiary education institutions. See https://sustain.ubc.ca/our-commitment/campus-living-lab for more information.