Culture is future » Territorial attractiveness and social cohesion


Contribution: "The university: a new territory for creativity" by Pierre Miglioretti

The university territories are evolving lately and have to adapt specifically to the opening up to the masses of the higher education, to the increasing expectations of being consistent with the corporate environment or the requirement of international visibility and attractiveness. Regarding this evolution, the universities are including new dimensions to become more central in the local territories and establish themselves as a new territoriality of creativity.

Smart city vs. Creative City

The university structure shapes itself more and more to be a part of the local development. This comes among others from a national desire to have strong “university sites” arise and from the local political actors who are more willing than before to lean towards these institutions as strong places of attractiveness. The territory of universities is one of those main tools for the coming of the knowledge city that is really in tune with the expected results of the Lisbon strategy to establish the EU as “the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world”[1].

But today’s metropolis doesn’t just let its attractiveness strategy rely only on the desire to become a smart city. It has progressively incorporated itself within the framework of the creative city strategy. Behind this term created by Charles Landry and Franco Bianchini[2] culture has become a major asset in the social and economic development strategies of the cities. This trend induced the extension of the sphere of culture so that the more expandable field of creativity is favored.

The university territory, supplier of creativity 

If the university was originally, with the democratization of the higher education, a space for cultural institutions to extend and renew their audience, its role is now evolving. Based on the researches that occur there in multiple areas of academics, the university is reinforcing its original area of expertise in the development of the cultural action. This trend is now more and more oriented towards the challenges of the economy of creativity, as the bureau de l’économie théorique et appliquée of the university of Strasbourg (department of theoretical and applied economy)[3]. Its role exceeds otherwise largely the function of observer to become a major link of the creative economy. The university of Strasbourg is now almost an economic development actor for the municipality with whom it signed a convention, and is setting up measures to become a key-intermediary of creative firms. With projects such as the renovation of the Manufacture de Tabac, the city of Strasbourg and its university are implementing a strategy of higher education attractiveness. Both institutions are trying to avoid any kind of “brain drain” by providing economic utility to university knowledge, notably in the sphere of creativity economy. In different cities, such as Bordeaux, other experiences such as the UBIC platform (Université Bordeaux Inter-Culture) are aiming to exchange with and coach cultural and creative actors based on university’s know-how[4].

Smart city, creative city and participatory city

As some people may have criticized the concept of creative economy for its inherent risk of only focusing investments on the elite that is the creative class[5], the university’s challenge is the necessity to rely on the development of an endogenous creativity, which needs to emerge from each territory, as a token of a genuine attractiveness. At the same time, it shall guarantee a large participation, so that the cultural and creative initiative can be shared with anyone and so that it reinforces the capacity for action of each citizen. With the connection it is forging between creativity and knowledge, the University has a way to reclaim here its full place within the society.

About Pierre Miglioretti

Pierre Miglioretti has a PhD in political science of the University of Grenoble-Alpes and is a member of the societal innovation project UBIC (Université Bordeaux Inter-Culture). In his PhD thesis, dedicated to the metropolitan turn of culture, he develops an analysis of the public policies of culture’s evolutions, in the light of the changes of the political territories and the new imperatives of globalization, specifically in terms of economic development. This approach is a way to rethink the actors of cultural local policies relationships.

[1] Kok report, “facing the challenge. The Lisbon strategy for growth and employment”, 2004.

[2] Bianchini and Landry, The creative city, 1995.

[4] See the presentation of the project on IDEX’s website.

[5] Shearmur, L’aristocratie mobile du savoir : quelques réflexions sur les thèses de Richard Florida, 2005.