Storyline

It’s the year 2030 and UCSD has undergone a radical re-envisioning.

Due to a convergence of pervasive and telepresent computing, intellectual property and security concerns, environmental crises, fuel shortages and insurance costs, the school has become a recently reconfigured mass: the lion’s share of the university is housed within a giant INDOOR hi-tech research park with labs in every possible area. Lectures no longer occur in lecture halls, but throughout the labtower network on asynchronous on-demand channels.

The catch is, everyone associated with the school must remain INSIDE.

This is not as big of a deal as one might initially think. For decades, people have been engaging in greater amounts of remote communication and remote working, learning, and surgery are now commonplace. Since the Border Closure Act of 2012, the university has been operating its research and educational programs on (remotely accessed) global campuses in addition to the original La Jolla campus. As gas prices soared to more than $10/gallon throughout the 20teens, it became necessary to concentrate remaining proximate research into one location. Since the coastal cliffs have been off limits for some time (due to rising water levels, increased erosion and unpredictable weather violence), and most entertainment and travel happens via haptically, audio-visually and socially sophisticated virtual experiences, folks had been spending more and more time inside anyway.

During the 2020s, the University began to develop a long range plan that included a deal that most of the students couldn't refuse. In what was hailed as a "return to tradition," beginning in the Fall quarter of 2029 UCSD now offers a no cost (that is, free from tuition or fees) education to California students. Through the largess of the primary sponsor BioNeuroNanoComm, and a host of other sponsors, UCSD is now funding all student needs (tuition, books, room & board, healthcare, recreation, communication, and security). And there’s no need for parking!

A year after the move inside, a new InsideMan from BioNeuroNanoComm arrives. There’s been a breech of protocol in one of the clean rooms. Ms Skaggs is conducting a trust experiment. There is a possible threat from the Outside even as the Chancellor is working out the kinks in the building.

Throughout, the sage remains.