Circle U. Knowledge Hubs gather momentum

The three knowledge hubs on climate, democracy, and global health are at the core of the alliance. Humboldt is currently in the process of laying the groundwork for the hubs by defining their values and piloting first initiatives. The concept of "new power" plays a key role in this work.

Book cover: The New Power University. The Social purpose of higher education in the 21st century

Partners from all universities are working towards the hub’s creation already, among them Professor Jonathan Grant from King’s College London. Professor Grant's recent book, The New Power University, provides a model for thinking on how to operationalise the hubs. Using the framing of 'new power' Grant illustrates how a different purpose for universities is necessary through the application of a new set of values that puts social responsibility at the core of the academic mission. This allows the university to become an advocate of the policies and political issues that matter to its communities. 

Connect and energise

New Power is an idea originally put forward by Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans in 2018 in their book of that title. They view universities as old power institutions where power is "jealously guarded, closed, inaccessible and leader-driven". Old power is a currency that is traded, whilst new power is fluid like a current that connects and energises. New power is created by many, networked, open and relies on short term conditional affiliations.

Illustration from New Power by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms.

Collaboration with non-academic stakeholders

This is how Circle U. is working with the Knowledge Hubs: By combining research expertise, grassroots initiatives, extensive networks and a bottom-up approach, the Knowledge Hubs will be vital in shaping and furthering Circle U.’s mission to empower students and staff to mobilize knowledge for impact in order to make the world a better place. The three topics of Climate, Democracy and Global Health are important to many non-academic stakeholders such as hospitals, public authorities, businesses and civil society, and one of the  aims is to collaborate with them and bring their insights into the work of the hubs. 

Academic Chair Programme, an enabling factor

These hubs are conceived as physical and virtual spaces where research, teaching, and the public intersect to work towards meaningful changes and societal impact. A major enabling factor in the set-up of these hubs and to make them a reality across the seven campuses, is the Academic Chair Programme whereby professors from the member universities dedicate 20% of their time to activities for the alliance and notably in the hubs.

The Knowledge Hubs will also host courses, summer schools and degree programmes. The ambition is for these hubs to be a fertile environment in which bottom-up joint initiatives can spring embedding learning, co-creation, virtual mobility, and exchanges across all the universities in the alliance.

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Published May 7, 2021 3:15 PM - Last modified May 7, 2021 3:23 PM