Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies

Staff Profile

Emeritus Professor John Goddard OBE

Professor of Regional Development Studies



John is Emeritus Professor of Regional Development Studies at Newcastle University.  John founded and led the University’s Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS) from 1977 to 1998. During this period it was designated as a ‘centre of excellence’ by the Economic and Social Science Research Council, as the North East Regional Research Laboratory and a centre within its Programme on Information and Communications Technology (PICT). He was subsequently appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor until his retirement in 2008. In that role he had special responsibility for the University’s city and regional engagement and chaired the group of six English Science Cities. Post retirement he returned to CURDS and was appointed a NESTA Fellow where he wrote a ‘provocation’ entitled ‘Re-inventing the Civic University’. He was also awarded a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship to enable him to co-author a book on The University and the City with Dr Paul Vallance. This included case studies of four UK cities and was published by Routledge in January 2013. He subsequently co-edited an international comparative study with Professor Ellen Hazelkorn, Louise Kempton and Paul Vallance on The Civic University: the Policy and Leadership Challenges published by Elgar in December 2016. This includes case studies of Newcastle University and University College London in the UK, Amsterdam and Groningen Universities in the Netherlands, Aalto and Tampere Universities in Finland and Trinity College and Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland. In 2017-18, John acted as Special Advisor on civic engagement to the new Vice Chancellor and President of the Newcastle University. He is currently advising universities in Iraq on how they can learn from Newcastle experience.

John has led reviews of regional engagement by individual Finnish universities for the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council and acted as academic leader of the OECD Institutional Management in Higher Education programme (IMHE) on universities and city and regional development published as Higher Education and Regions: Globally Competitive, Locally Engaged. This work informed a practical guide written with Louise Kempton for regional authorities and published by the European Commission on Connecting Universities to Regional Growth. John is a member of the Mirror Group advising the Commission’s Smart Specialisation Platform and has been a member of the Steering Committee for the European Universities Association (EUA) programme on collaborative research and the academic leader of an EU Lifelong Learning Programme on building regional partnerships between universities, business and public authorities. He has facilitated a partnership between the EUA and the Smart Specialisation Platform at the EU Joint Research Centre JRC/ITPS, has been chair of  the  Advisory Group on Widening Participation in Horizon 2020,  a member of the Advisory Group on Science With and For Society and has  advised  the Economic and Social Committee on ‘Universities for Europe’.  He has been a member of an EU Research Programme consortium investigating Smart Specialisation led by Professor Kevin Morgan at Cardiff University and has completed a study also with Cardiff University and Imperial College for DG Education and Culture on university collaboration with business through education. He has worked with this DG and the JRC to establish a new programme of work on Higher Education and Smart Specialisation (HESS) and has joined the Advisory Board for this initiative.   In 2015 he joined the UNESCO sponsored Global Network for Universities and Innovation as co-editor of their sixth publication in the series on Higher Education in the World   Towards Socially a Responsible University: Balancing the Global with the Local. In 2017 he was appointed by the European Institute of Technology(EIT) as an  evaluator of 'knowledge triangle integration' within the first round of Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) and has evaluated the alliance between the  Leiden, Delft and Erasmus universities in the Netherlands. In 2019 he was appointed by the German Federal Government to a panel reviewing from a regional perspective its support to the University of Munster under their Excellence Initiative.   

Within the UK John has led work for the Leadership Foundation in Higher Education scoping a universities and civic leadership development programme that has laid the foundation for a HEFCE sponsored ‘Leading Places’ initiative involving universities in six English cities and  designed to develop skills in collaborative working between universities and cities.   He has advised the Department for Business Innovation and Skills on the establishment of a Smart Specialisation support platform and is a member of its Strategic Advisory Group on Place Based Innovation.   He has been a member of the Advisory Board for the Heseltine Institute for Public Policy at Liverpool University, and is a member of the Council of the Academy of Social Sciences and a Board member of the Campaign for the Social Sciences.  He has recently advised the Warwick University Chancellor’s Commission on the regional role of the University and undertaken a review for the Vice Chancellor of Cardiff University of the University’s civic engagement. He has  been Vice Chair of an independent Commission on Civic Universities headed by Lord Kerslake, former head of the UK Civil Service and undertaken a review (with Ellen  Hazelkorn)  for the Welsh Government of the civic role of Welsh Universities.


Within Newcastle John has been chair of the Executive Committee of Universities for the North East and has advised the North East England Local Economic Partnership on its smart specialisation strategy.   He has coordinated with Professor Mark Tewdwr-Jones a national network of universities that were part of the Foresight Future of Cities programme under the Office of the Chief Scientist and co-directed with Mark a Newcastle City Futures programme. This has sought to anchor universities into the city through urban foresight and provided the foundation for Newcastle’s participation in a major Research Councils UK project on Urban Living in which John has been a co-investigator. Within that programme John has  co-ordinated  an ‘action learning’ project involving researchers from Newcastle and Northumbria Universities and officials from Newcastle and Gateshead Council as part of LFHE’s Leading Places programme. In an individual capacity, John has been a founding Director of the Newcastle Business Improvement District, NE1 Ltd. and a member of the Council and Trustee of Newcastle Cathedral where he chairs the Board for a major Heritage Lottery Project ‘Common Ground in Sacred Space’. He is also a Trustee of Together Newcastle (Church Urban Fund) and chair of Trustees of Tyne Amateur Rowing Club.  

John is a graduate in geography from University College London, obtained his PhD form LSE and was a lecturer there from 1968 to 1975 prior to moving to Newcastle.  He was awarded an OBE in 1986 and the Victoria Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1992, elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2004, an Honorary Fellow of University College London in 2010 and received the Sir Peter Hall award for distinguished services to the Regional Studies Association in 2011. In 2012 he was awarded The Lord Dearing Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to Higher Education. In 2015 he was elected a Fellow of the Academia Europaea.

In May 2018, Hasselt University’s rector, Prof. dr. Luc De Schepper, awarded John an honorary doctorate and highlighted his writings on the civic university as  providing “… the best lens available for illuminating the symbiosis between higher education and society – and its tremendous force for progress and resilience.”
UHasselt: Laudatio John Goddard (text)
UHasselt: Laudatio John Goddard (video)



Research Interests

John’s academic background is in economic geography. He founded and led the University’s Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies (CURDS) from 1977 to 1998 and directed numerous academic and policy research projects on the role of innovation in territorial development.

Within the UK John contributed to the Dearing Review of Higher Education through a Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals report on Universities and Communities and in subsequent work for the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Universities UK (UUK) on the Regional Mission of Higher Education.

Internationally John has been academic leader of an OECD programme now published as Higher Education and Regions: Globally Competitive, Regionally Engaged (2007). He has also led several reviews of regional engagement by Finnish Universities sponsored by the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council.

John was a lecturer at LSE from 1968 to 1975 prior to moving to Newcastle. He was awarded an OBE in 1986 and the Victoria Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1992 and elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2004.