Covid-19. Civic Universities, Societal Innovation and the Recovery of Local Communities
Keywords:Societal Innovation, Universities, Covid-19, Recovery, European Economy, Global Markets
Corona virus has had a differential impact on not only various age and ethnic groups but also on different localities. In many of these places, universities have hitherto acted in dual roles as key anchor and as knowledge institutions. During the crisis, many universities have worked with heath service providers, businesses, local authorities and the community and voluntary sector with real pace, skill and scale in a way that has reinforced the trust and confidence of local people in their universities. Whilst the immediate focus has been on the contribution of the medical and life sciences, civically minded universities have also drawn on the social sciences to help public authorities address the challenges of economic and social recovery in a more sustainable and inclusive way. This has required them to put citizens at the heart of placed based societal innovation. Going forward universities and their funders must learn from the good they have done during the health crises and then seek to build a ‘new normal’ based on values rather than on quasi-artificial performance metrics. A values approach would embed a university more strongly within local government structures where it could then benefit from political influence and financial systems. Firms of all sizes and from all places, local and national would then be much more aware of the contribution universities can make to society in the round.
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