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Situating the New Urban University: Higher Education in an Era of Global Urbanization

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NEW URBAN UNIVERSITY (Situating the New Urban University: Higher Education in an Era of Global Urbanization)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2017-09-30

The global impact of urbanization presents unprecedented opportunities and profound challenges for higher education. It significantly impacts the expectations placed on universities and where in the world – and the city – they need to adapt their infrastructures, pedagogical practices, and ways of operating. The multiscalar networks of global urbanization mean urban universities must be understood as being more than located ‘in the city’. The ‘new urban university’ is regionalizing and globalizing in dramatic, chaotic ways. What capacities do universities have as urban leaders in a globalizing world? How can universities better mobilize in, and for, extended city-regions? How can marginalized urban communities be more effectively engaged, and how can they inform universities’ spatial and strategic actions?

NEW URBAN UNIVERSITY responds to the challenges of global urbanization by illustrating how higher education providers can better serve people in places, versus drawing people to a place. In taking stock of the influence major sociospatial changes in urban regions have on universities (e.g. globalization, neoliberalization), the project:

1. Advances and redefines understandings of university-territoriality relationships
2. Analyzes cutting-edge developments in universities’ spatial strategies
3. Enhances the mechanisms through which urban oriented innovations are mobilized
4. Promotes spatial strategies that enhance access for marginalized social groups

To meet these objectives, NEW URBAN UNIVERSITY: (1) provides a global assessment of universities’ engagement practices and impacts, covering broad trends, visions, and strategies across scholarly and policy literatures; and (2) presents a path-breaking examination of urban higher education systems at the city-regional scale, with a focus on both inter- and intra-urban dynamics. In-depth studies of universities’ spatial strategies in the London and New York global city-regions speak directly to best practices in creating and sustaining reflexive, resilient university-society networks for diverse communities in globalizing urban contexts. NEW URBAN UNIVERSITY deepens academic and policy understandings of how knowledge transfer takes place, enabling higher education leaders and urban policymakers to optimize universities’ contributions and realize lasting societal impact. The project’s high-quality empirical research and theoretical innovations have been published in international journals and presented at global academic and policy conferences.

Project website:
NEW URBAN UNIVERSITY has been conducted through three work packages
WP1. Global Review of Universities Engagement
• A literature review was conducted on the urban and regional roles of universities
• A coding methodology was developed to analyze university strategic planning documents
• A University of São Paulo-University College London workshop was held in Brazil
• Meetings were held with UN Habitat UNI regarding their Action Plan for Universities
• A foundational paper was published by Regional Studies in Jun 2016
• A Debates article was published by CITY in Feb 2017
• A UCL-UN Habitat UNI report, published in Oct 2016, documented results of the strategic plan analysis
• A blog on universities’ social contributions was published by The Conversation in Aug 2017

WP2. Global Urban University Roundtable
• Participants were solicited for an international roundtable forum and a draft circulated in Apr 2016
• Following the withdrawal of several contributors by December 2016, the forum was reframed as a dialogue on the urban university in Singapore
• Work commenced on a review of Singaporean planning and higher education, with a fieldtrip conducted in Apr 2017
• New contributors have been identified and interviewed, with a deadline for submission to Cities proposed for Oct 2017

WP3. Global City-Region Case Studies
• Strategic planning documents for universities in London (41) and New York (172) were coded using the method developed in WP1
• Planning, economic development, and innovation strategies from public and private agencies were collected and reviewed
• Strategic planning methodology and results have been submitted to Urban Affairs Review
• Interviews were conducted with key actors in New York (43) and London (32)
• Interviews were transcribed and coded using the method developed in WP1
• A workshop was held in Naples to examine university-led development in peripheral urban areas
• Manuscripts were submitted to European Planning Studies and Journal of Urban Affairs, with another in preparation for Urban Geography

• Project findings have been disseminated through a series of academic research publications; reports and policy papers; and popular writing, including the website blog
• Workshops and advisory meetings were held in London, Naples, Quito, and São Paulo
• 16 research presentations have been given at international academic and industry conferences, universities, and workshops in 5 countries
• The Fellow advised two masters student dissertations and gave a number of guest lectures at UCL
NEW URBAN UNIVERSITY has produced a major new theorization of ‘universities in urban society’. Opposed to extant frameworks that position universities as regional knowledge factories or place-based ‘anchor institutions’, the project analyzes universities’ urban functions through the categories of mediation, centrality and difference. Each serves as a mode of critique, strategic orientation and foundation for tactical interventions

Significant results
1. Comprehensive identification of university spatial practices that pointedly extends current literature and policy approaches
2. Major theory of a ‘new urban university’ developed
3. A framework to analyze university engagement interfaces via qualitative content analysis of strategic planning documents and coding of transcripts developed
4. Major comparative analysis of university strategic planning completed
5. Universities’ capacity to act as city-regional actors demonstrated to be a contested outcome of discursive, technological, and territorial arrangements
6. University-led innovation theorized as a social project contingent on actors shaping policy, the conditions under which policy is produced, and policy outcomes
7. Opening access to university resourced demonstrated to be vital for marginalized communities to realize benefits of higher education

Direct impact and societal implications
• Research findings informed University College London’s ‘London Agenda’
• The project directly informed The British Council’s Going Global conference, with an overview paper produced and distributed. The Fellow gave the closing keynote address and participated in a panel with senior public officials
• Project findings informed UN Habitat UNI’s ‘Action Plan for Universities’
• Policy recommendations target ways to connect peripheral urban areas via aligned strategic engagement with actors working at diverse scales
• The project promotes lasting impact by elevating public discourse on universities as urban leaders. This impact continues to take shape via knowledge exchange activities with project partners
• Comparative methodological and analytical innovations provide a foundation for future global city-regional research
• New research has been developed on Singaporean universities, and university-led development in urban peripheries
The New Urban University Framework
Hackney Wick - Home of Loughborough University in London
CUNY Graduate School: The Life of the Mind in the Heart of the City
Urban Identity Rutgers-Newark
Mapping London's Universities (central London)
Mapping London's Universities (outer London)