This is a proposal to introduce some “Thematic Sub-networks” in which city/university pairs work together around very specific themes. Two themes seem promising, at first hand:
- “Integrating foreign students”: many universities (and cities) have a growing number of foreign students. But often, they live in a “parallel world” with other exchange students, and do not mix very much with locals. This implies a lots of opportunities in various respects. The core issue in this mini network is how to better integrate them in the university (mixing with other students), the urban society and the labour market.
- “The city as classroom&lab”. Students and researchers could help, in many ways, to solve urban problems and design solutions (and meanwhile learn a lot, and conduct good research). But for this to happen, a close alignment is needed between the universities’ educational and research programmes on the one hand, and city administration on the other. How to make this happen?
In each Thematic Sub-network, the following activities could take place:
- In-depth analysis of the “state of the art” and key challenges in the cities that take part, with the participation of researchers from the partner cities. The lead expert can be to co-ordinate the studies, make a research set-up; local university partners can conduct the local case studies; we can do the synthesis/conclusions together
- Mutual one-day study visits
- Each Thematic Sub-network could produce a book with case studies and key lessons. This can take the form of a practical handbook or a scientific book.
- Moreover, the results of the Thematic Sub-networks can be a central input at the bigger EUniverCities bi-annual meetings.