Space: universities, cities and globalisation

9 May 2013, 6-8pm, UCL, Archaeology Lecture Theatre G6, 31-34 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PY.

Professor Allan Cochrane, Head of Social Policy and Criminology, The Open University and former Pro-Vice Chancellor, The Open University

Placing universities: moving beyond the rhetoric

Once upon a time (however misleading such a construction was even then) universities were imagined as disinterested institutions whose purpose was to pursue research, develop knowledge and open up young minds to the glories of intellectual endeavour. Today, however, matters are more complicated. Universities sometimes continue to emphasise their special status, but it may be more helpful to approach them analytically in the same way as we would approach any other institution, even any other business. Once that step is taken, the focus necessarily shifts from rhetoric about knowledge exchange, impact and public engagement to a concern with the actual practices of universities, both in a global knowledge economy and in the places in which they are located. This presentation discusses some of the implications of such a shift in focus, particularly for understanding the local or regional role of universities, with the help of evidence from four case studies.

Allan Cochrane is Professor of Urban Studies at the Open University. Many years ago he was a Pro-Vice Chancellor. The work on which he is drawing in this presentation comes out of an ESRC project focused on higher education and regional transformation – the most recent paper associated with the project (on the socio-political geographies of higher education) was published in Policy and Politics earlier this year.

Professor Alan Harding, Professor of Public Policy and Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Practice, Management School, University of Liverpool

Universities and local growth regimes 

This talk will briefly outline the role that universities have been claimed to play in urban growth coalitions before assessing how relationships between Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and cities are likely to develop given what is known about the environment in which they will be operating. He will draw on examples of city-university relations in England’s north west.

Alan Harding is Professor of Public Policy and the inaugural Director of a new, cross-Faculty Institute for Public Policy and Practice at the University of Liverpool Management School. His work focuses on the politics of spatial economic change. He was one of the editors of Bright Satanic Mills: Universities, regional development and the knowledge economy (Ashgate, 2007).

Dr Pushpa Arabindoo, Lecturer in Geography and Urban Design, UCL Urban Laboratory and Department of Geography

Universities and communities in a post-regeneration era: lessons from practice

Drawing on the key debates emerging from the recently concluded Urban Practices module as part of the inter-disciplinary UCL MSc Urban Studies programme, this talk highlights the distinct ways in which practitioners frame the role of universities in urban development, particularly in a post-regeneration context, and how this impacts the interests of communities. It shows how a practice-led discourse challenges our theoretical assumptions about the same and how such a module can offer a more mutually interactive, engaging platform.

Dr Pushpa Arabindoo is Lecturer in Geography and Urban Design. Dr Arabindoo is a specialist in the fields of urbanization, public space and political activism in India, and is also a practising designer in the UK. Her research focus is on the emerging aspects of urbanisation and development issues in South Asian cities amidst the concerns of neoliberalisation and globalisation. She is currently working on the changing nature of the urban environmental discourse in India following recent natural disasters including the 2004 tsunami and the 2005 floods.

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