The past decades of unprecedented social and economic opportunities have simultaneously contributed to the emergence of “glocalised” challenges, such as environmental and human-capital depreciation, rapid and uncontrolled urbanisation, brain-drain and the notable decline in innovative activities in more modest regions, among others. As the key players in regional and local ecosystems, and active “knowledge creators”, universities are increasingly being called upon to step in as “knowledge translators” to address pressing challenges. Thus, contributing to the regional Smart Specialisation Agenda and implementing Sustainable Development Goals in the “quadruple helix” model, together with public authorities, local businesses, and civic society as a whole.
Adopting this as a part of their “third mission”, alongside more traditional linear education and research, universities employ various modes, scales, and scopes of engagement for regional and local development. In this special issue we aim to provide insights into the third mission activities of universities, ranging from community rejuvenation efforts to co-creation practices within and outside living labs in education and research.
Our guest authors from South Africa and Ireland discuss the role of universities in the effective regional ecosystems, while the contributors from the USA and the UK shed light on the issues of engagement and university impact in smaller markets and the rural environment. Furthermore, we provide examples of successful collaborative initiatives embracing multidisciplinary challenge-based learning or tackling local issues with an international learning platform originated in Finland and an example of an interdisciplinary programme in Slovenia. In the final part of the magazine, we dive into the exploration of collaborative living labs, bringing you the examples of a library living lab in Spain and urban vitality lab in the Netherlands, both progressively fuelled by universities. It is important to mention that this special issue has been inspired by the two of our Erasmus+ projects, which both address the need for interconnectivity and boosting university potential for local and regional development: University-City Action Lab and RESTART+ Communities. Both projects provided great insight and selected articles for this issue and we would like to call your attention to them as the pinnacle of this publication.
Notwithstanding, while we are highlighting only a fraction of initiatives and models, we would love to gain your perspective and experience on this subject and bring your ideas to our community. We kindly invite you to share your perspectives via our social media channels or contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org. We wish you a pleasant reading and many useful takeaways.
UIIN Members will receive a copy of the new UIIN Magazine. If you are not a member please order your copy on our website.