Seminar "Cities and Universities: creating alliances for the social and economic progress of the territory"

We are facing a new world era, with realities such as economic globalisation, the climate emergency, shortcomings in the welfare state, the consolidation of knowledge as a critical factor of progress, new and old inequalities, the transformation of the world of work, the rise of populism and the crisis of liberal democracy, and the impact of new technologies and digitalisation. All of this requires rethinking the organisation of collective affairs and building appropriate responses to new social demands and needs, where knowledge and interrelationships between actors emerge as critical factors.

In this context, cities and regions emerge, more than ever, as determining scenarios to steer these new realities in the best possible direction, creating dynamic, sustainable growth aimed at people's well-being. Regions and cities are the natural spaces where knowledge is created and social relations are forged, in contexts characterised by a plurality of agents that require shared networking. In turn, as we already know, the city and the region are physical, human and social spaces that translate global challenges into local responses.

Both the public institutions of the local-regional environment and the institutions that create and disseminate knowledge (universities, research centres, mixed institutes, laboratories and factories for social innovation and cultural creation) are identified as key actors, hinge actors to dynamise this formulation of appropriate joint responses, both on a local and global scale. 

There are various spaces in which universities and cities/regions interact: training, applied research, innovation, technology transfer, creation of companies and promotion of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, promotion of critical and committed citizenship, cultural vitality, urban development, territorial competitiveness, community development, internationalisation, social responsibility.

From the perspective of university and science policy, in recent years we have witnessed the development of new paradigms that advocate more open, interconnected and socially committed institutions: the civic university, social and community engagement, responsible research and innovation, co-creation, citizen science and open science. Paradigms that guide universities towards their global commitment to the great challenges facing the planet and humanity (expressed in recent years with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals) and at the same time their commitment to cities, regions and citizens.

This seminar, promoted by the Catalan Association of Public Universities, Barcelona City Council, the Conference of Rectors of Spanish Universities, Minister for Universities of the Spanish Government and the Department of Research and Universities of the Generalitat de Catalunya, with the collaboration of "la Caixa" Foundation, aims to open a fruitful dialogue between municipal/regional institutions and universities. A dialogue that facilitates shared work scenarios and collaborative projects. Interrelationships, in short, that enable social progress, cultural vitality and sustainable economic development.



16:30-16:40 Inauguration of the Seminar

Mr. Jaume Puy, Rector of the University of Lleida and President of the ACUP
Mr. José M. Sanz, Deputy Vice-President of the CRUE Spanish Universities and former Rector of the Autonomous University of Madrid 


16:40-17:40 Round table. Universities, key institutions for the social, economic and cultural progress of the territory. How to reinforce city-university synergies?

(includes debate with the audience)

• Mr. Jordi Martí, 6th Deputy Mayor, Department of Culture, Education, Science and Community, Barcelona City Council
• Ms. Gemma Geis, Minister of Research and Universities of the Generalitat de Catalunya
• Mr. Daniel Crespo, Rector of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya
Mr. Joan Subirats, Minister of Universities of the Spanish Government 

Moderation: Mr. Màrius Martínez, Vice-Rector for International Relations of the Autonomous University of Barcelona


17:40-18:40 Round table. Local policies in higher education, research and innovation. Assessing impacts and strengthening the knowledge society.

(includes debate with the audience)

• Ms. Elisabeth Lehec, Head of the City interface and transition research unit, Directorate for Climate and Ecological Transition of the City of Paris
• Mr. Raffaele Laudani, Deputy Mayor for Urban Planning, Universities and Research Centres, special projects "City of Knowledge" and "Democratic Memory", Municipality of Bologna
• Mr. Francesc Subirada, Director of the initiative for the Ciutadella del Coneixement, Universitat Pompeu Fabra
• Ms. Silvia Llach, Vice-Rector for Territory and Social Commitment of the University of Girona

Moderación: Ms. Júlia Miralles, Delegate for Science and Universities, Barcelona City Council


18:40-18:45 Conclusions and closure of the seminar

• Mr. Josep M. Vilalta, Executive Secretary of the ACUP