Art and Design are leaders in the field of civic engagement and knowledge exchange. Northumbria University Newcastle are UK Top 10 for research power in Art and Design (REF 2014) and have an impressive track record in knowledge exchange, business and community engagement.

The KEF programme at Northumbria emphasises the value of university research partnerships, public engagement and enterprise and is a key pillar of Institutional strategic plans. Government policy emphasises the importance of ‘place’ in its ambitions to ‘level up’ regions and the importance of collaborative local leadership and joined up thinking. Newcastle and Northumbria Universities have recently launched the Collaborative Newcastle Universities Agreement – a new partnership that brings together the world-leading expertise of both organisations for the benefit of the communities of Newcastle and beyond. Through the new agreement, the aim is to bring together the collective ‘power’ of both organisations – over 10,000 staff and 50,000 students – to support health, wealth and wellbeing. The North East region is a demonstrator of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ on the cultural scene.

The Civic University Commission challenges universities to re-shape their role and responsibility to their communities to realise their potential as drivers of a new civic agenda, to develop and embed civic aspirations at an institutional level, as well as working with government and strategic partners to ensure that a university’s geographic role and responsibility is used more effectively as an agent to drive positive societal change, to increase their civic impact, and connect universities with other ‘anchor’ institutions.

  • How can we ensure that social justice is embedded in a new civic agenda starting at an institutional level?
  • What impact, if any, is the levelling up agenda going to have on the potential for societal change and the resources to deliver that change?
  • How does the civic agenda fit into a local, regional, national and international context?
  • How can HE institutions, working with partners and ‘anchor’ institutions, make the drive towards a new civic agenda more visible to colleagues, students and the wider community?

The City of Newcastle is a diverse and extremely vibrant visitor destination in the North East of England. Newcastle-Upon-Tyne is regularly hailed as one of the best cities for student life. It’s partly due to the city’s compactness, which makes it large enough to be vibrant and exciting while small enough to feel like home.

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art on Gateshead Quays hosts an ever-changing programme of thought-provoking exhibitions from world-class artists and local talent. The venue itself cuts an impressive silhouette on the Quayside skyline and visitors can take the lift to BALTIC’s viewing platform for unrivalled views of the River Tyne. BALTIC’s nearest neighbour is Sage Gateshead – a dramatic glass building and a truly iconic addition to the Quayside horizon.

This conference aims to explore the way forward for creative higher education institutions to engage with a new civic agenda and provide an opportunity to hear from key speakers in this field, offer case studies from leaders in creative HEI’s, explore themes in dedicated workshops and network with colleagues.


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