A key theme is the role and impact that universities have on local and regional development.
Our work seeks to link two separate knowledge domains and related fields of public policy. We look at universities as key institutions in civil society and how they contribute to city and regional development.
Governments are quite properly asking, 'what are universities for?' in the context of:
- a severe recession
- pressure on public finances
- major societal challenges, such as global warming and demographics
Contributing to a civic society
The Civic University Study Programme (CUSP) seeks to answer this question. We do this through academic and policy research for local, national and international institutions.
We also contribute to debates that build recognition for the actual and potential role of universities in civil society.
It is supported by Newcastle University’s Strategic Fund and contributes to its aspirations to become a 'world class civic university'.
It aims to do this through assisting with strategic positioning and acting as a catalyst for new projects that contribute to realising that ambition.
- a book called The University and the City
- a large scale survey of how academics view impacts of their research
- an international comparative study of how individual universities manage civic engagement
- produced guidance on mobilising universities as key actors in implementation of ‘smart’ regional development strategies
- provided a university input to the European Commission Platform supporting regions preparing ‘smart specialisation’ strategies
- led a project on building regional partnerships between universities, business and public authorities
- advised on best practise in the management of collaborative research with outside agents
- supported a third round of reviews of the role of universities in city and regional development
CURDS has researched how information communication technology (ICT) affects regional development for more than 30 years.
This work has had two principal concerns.
Firstly, we look at social and spatial uneven distribution and uptake of ICT. We seek to find what impact this has on local development. Recent work focuses on roll-out of broadband technologies and policy responses to market failure.
Secondly, we look at the ‘transformative’ effects of ICT. Here we focus on the barrier to realising this potential:
Key research here has been on the role of ICT in:
- the location of work
- the changing nature of work
- skills and employment
All are required for local and regional development.
We're pursuing three strands of work, built on the notion of transformative uses of ICT. Research Councils UK funds a £12m Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy (SiDE) project.
ICT and community
We look at how digital technologies are changing the concept of ‘community’. We also look at how they might enhance community participation.
CURDS researchers recently contributed to an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project. It was called Situating Community through Creative Technologies and Practice.
ICT and the elderly
We look at how technologies might support older people to stay at home, or in communities, for longer and improve care.
ICT and youth experience
Our team also explore the experience of young people in using social media. We seek out their experiences and reflect on what we can learn for policy.
We explore ways institutions responsible for engaging young people are adapting for new technologies.
Our research looks at whether certain brands can be synonymous with geographical areas.
The theme has sought to counter overstated claims of:
- 'global' homogeneity
- contribution to 'flattening' spatial differences
Research establishes the conceptual and theoretical basis for interpreting brands and branding geographies in:
- their inescapable geographical associations
- geographical differentiated manifestation and circulation
- connection to spatially uneven development
Emergent studies explore the ways goods and services brands with strong geographical associations can provide assets capable of anchoring economic activities in place and promoting development regionally and locally.
We are also examining the role of place branding in urban development.
Sponsors of this work include the British Academy and Economic and Social Research Council.
Finance has long played an integral role in local and regional development.
CURDS has a long history of exploring geographies of money. We look at the restructuring of the financial system in the UK and beyond.
This research strand has included work on 'de-mutualisation' in the building society movement. It's also looked at financial exclusion.
Recent studies have examined:
- the role of 'financialisation' in reshaping understanding of how regions connect to the global financial system
- the role of 'shareholder value' and 'the City' in de-industrialisation and restructuring manufacturing in old industrial regions
- the regional implications of the global financial crisis manifest in the collapse of Northern Rock
Sponsors of this research include the former regional development agency ONE North East and Newcastle University.
The role of effective governance of local and regional development has been a long-standing theme of CURDS’ work.
Currently it forms a component of our work in the Spatial Economics Research Centre.
This addresses the impacts of devolution, localism and decentralisation on patterns of local and regional economic development.
Sponsors of this work include the Economic and Social Research Council, national, local and regional governments.