The UPP Foundation held its Summer Lecture and Dinner on 11 June – hosting Professor Robert J. Zimmer, President of the University of Chicago and one of the most prominent figures in US higher education, along with 80 senior higher education sector leaders and policy-makers.
Professor Zimmer’s lecture – ‘Advancing the Civic University: Cities and Universities’ – highlighted the mutually-beneficial relationship between cities and universities and how universities should focus and leverage educational, research and economic outcomes towards their local communities.
To be a truly civic institution universities need to develop their value beyond their ‘automatic’ impact of being a large institution located in a city and have greater intentionality or purpose in their civic role.
Examples of ‘intentional’ civic engagement at the University of Chicago include ongoing projects at the Chicago Crime Lab – a partnership with civic and community leaders to design, test and scale promising programs and policies to reduce crime and violence in the city.
The University’s policy labs, which are now undertaking over 60 projects with civic partners, enable the University’s research and skills capacity to help develop systems-based solutions and policies that address the challenges faced in Chicago and be transferred to other cities around the globe.
Opening the Lecture, Chair of the board of trustees at the UPP Foundation Jon Wakeford said:
“We are honoured to have President Zimmer – one of the leading individuals in higher education in the United States – join the UPP Foundation in its exploration of the civic university. The University of Chicago has some striking examples of how a university can grasp its public purpose and help foster solutions that respond to the issues its citizens are facing.
The UPP Foundation is committed to advancing the civic role of universities so Professor Zimmer’s insights are of enormous value. Over 50 UK universities have so far signed up to develop Civic University Agreements – the key recommendation from the UPP Foundation’s Civic University Commission – and we hope to welcome many more.”
The event was hosted at The Institute for Engineering and Technology in London.