For those of us engaged in post- secondary education, the partnership between great universities and the urban regions in which they are usually located is a matter of increasing importance in our fast-changing, globalized world.
Universities are crucial in the production of the new knowledge on which economic and social innovation and prosperity depend. Cities, in turn, foster social interaction amongst economic actors, thereby advancing knowledge at a faster rate than would otherwise be possible.
Universities contribute something even more significant than the knowledge flows achieved through research production—the flow of knowledge in the form of well-educated graduates. Here, too, cities return the favour, as students and faculty members doing part-time consulting work
in solving “real-world” problems often generate innovations of a more fundamental nature, spurring advances in basic research.
As key portals to global knowledge networks, universities forge critical links between their host cities and other leading knowledge production centres around the globe. As major players in global labour markets, they play a fundamentally important role in attracting international talent. They are also anchor tenants in the urban environment—they are among a city-region’s largest employers, and are considered a prestigious and attractive use of land within a city. In turn, the success of universities depends fundamentally on the quality of the urban environments in which they are situated.
Readers may know that as President of the University of Toronto, I have identified among our key strategic priorities the strengthening of our local and international partnerships. As you will see in these pages, University of Toronto Scarborough is helping lead the way on both
fronts—and is increasingly a model of “town and gown” partnership for the 21st century.
President, University of Toronto