Students outside modern university building in Manchester

The city and the university in the 21st century: challenges and opportunities for urban growth, governance and sustainability

June 2017

We have entered an urban age with more than half the world’s population living in cities. Cities are hubs of prosperity and dynamism. Cities, though, are also sites of risk, insecurity and inequality. The urban age sets pressing societal challenges at a global scale; challenges universities are well-placed to tackle.

Universities have tremendous potential to act as leaders in an urbanising world. As they seek to demonstrate their societal relevance in a turbulent political and funding climate, universities have embraced enhanced roles as economic drivers, civic leaders, and capacity-builders. Nonetheless, while cities benefit from universities, and universities benefit from cities, their strategic interests do not necessarily align.

The paper examines the ties that bind cities and universities together, and examines the potential opportunities (and limitations) for universities and cities to work together on adaptive responses to the lived experience of the urban age.


Dr Jean-Paul Addie, University College London