What are universities for? A geographical perspective

Tue 5 Jun 2018, 18:30 - 19:45

The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AH

Event ended

How should universities respond to the twin challenges of closing borders and declining confidence in higher education?  This talk argues that universities should deepen their engagement both globally and locally in order to bolster support for their mission.

Two major trends pose unprecedented challenges to higher education.  A backlash against globalization has fuelled protectionism, nativism, and inward-looking national politics.  And confidence in higher education institutions is declining.  Research universities are uniquely able to address both challenges if they embrace new strategic directions, globally and locally.  They must leverage their global networks and foster research collaboration to overcome parochialism and address grand challenges.  They must commit to strengthening their local communities and ensure access for students from the widest range of socioeconomic backgrounds.  These strategies will better position universities to secure the broad public support they need to thrive.

Professor Meric Gertler FBA
is President of the University of Toronto and Professor of Geography and Planning. He is widely known for his work on the role of institutions in shaping innovation and local economic prosperity. His comparative analysis of urban economies spans North America, Europe and Asia.

Professor Felix Driver FBA Professor of Human Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London

Professor Sir Nigel Thrift FBA Former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick

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