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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellows' Public Lecture - Cities of Knowledge and the Role of Universities: evidence from practice

16th February 2016, 17:30 to 18:30, Kenworthy Hall, St Mary's College, Professor Tim May, University of Salford


This lecture draws upon experiences of working in and for universities, research funders and the public and private sectors which informs its focus upon enhancing collaborations between cities and their universities. 

There are two broad perspectives on contemporary relations between universities and their environments. First, there is a view that the distinction of the academy is being undermined. This has occurred, for example, through the growth of new knowledge producers and changes in higher education via an increased prioritisation of relevance and impact. Second, it is an opportunity summed up by the idea that universities are now as ‘coalmines were to the industrial economy’. Universities are thus seen as central to growth in the knowledge economy through greater collaborations beyond normal institutional boundaries. Overall, there is now a clear focus on relations between universities and their localities for the mutual benefit of all involved. 

In practice there are a complex set of dynamics and reasons underpinning the production, transmission and reception of knowledge. These vary from the altruistic to the instrumental and from the affirmative to transformative. Important questions are then raised concerning the relationship between knowledge, policy and practice, as well as the intended and actual beneficiaries of knowledge-based development. What is also placed is question is the appropriateness of the organizational forms of universities in terms of comprising disciplinary silos measured against calls for relevant, interdisciplinary work. 

The lecture will draw upon evidence from practice to examine these issues and their implications for universities and the practice of disciplines. In the process it will explore alternatives and seek to illuminate a question that is concerned with the survival of universities, but is often ignored, assumed or denied: just what is distinctive about the university as a site of knowledge production?


This lecture is free and open to all. 


Details about Professor Tim May

Directions to St Mary's College

Map - St Mary's College is denoted as building No: 10

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.

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