POSTPONED: UniverCity Talks: The new power university - Rediscovering the public purpose of higher education

Visiting scholar Professor Jonathan Grant from Kings College London will be giving this talk as part of the new UniverCity Talk Series on 23rd of March.


What: Public lecture of Research translation
When: Monday 23 March 2019 lecture at 14.00-16.00, networking and drinks at 16.00-17.00
Where: Think Lounge, Think Corner, Yliopistonkatu 4


The Canadian author, John Ralston Saul, talks about the “in-between time” in his book the Collapse of Globalism (2005). He sees this period as a “short positive moment of uncertainty…[where] it becomes possible to emerge into a less ideological and more humanitarian era”.  We are living in one of these in-between times, where the confidence of global liberalism is being challenged by the rise of local populism fuelled by existential pressures around climate and resource, and the shift from the analogue world to the digital one.

As we transition to a new (as yet undefined) system it is likely that established and traditional institutions such as universities will come under attack. As this talk will explore, Universities will play a critical role in determining which path we take, either through their active evolution of their public purpose, which has evolved over millennia, or their passive remoteness from the world around them. The new power university will resolve a number of tensions to ensure this moment of uncertainty is a positive. These tensions settle a range of purposes including, for, example the social vs economic goods, universalism vs elitism, collectivism vs competition, autonomy vs system dependence.  All of which get to the ‘soul’ of the ‘new power university’.  This talk is both a warning against the complacency of the old power, and voice for many who see the opportunity and necessity for radical change in universities.


Professor Jonathan Grant is the Vice President & Vice-Principal (Service) at King’s College London and Professor of Public Policy at the Policy Institute at King’s. Service has been identified as one of five strategic priorities in King’s Strategic Vision 2029 and encapsulates King’s commitment to society beyond education and research. Jonathan has been at King’s for over six years and was Director of the Policy Institute between February 2014 and 2017.

Jonathan’s main research interests are on biomedical and health R&D policy, research impact assessment, the use of research and evidence in policy and decision making, and more recently higher education policy and issues to do with freedom of expression.  Jonathan has significant international experience providing analytical support on the formulation and implementation of R&D strategies in, for example, the UK, Greece, Norway, Qatar, Oman, Australia, Canada and the USA.

Prior to joining King’s, Jonathan was President of RAND Europe between June 2006 and October 2012, where he oversaw the doubling of the organisation's activity in Europe and the establishment of the Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research, a joint venture with the University of Cambridge. Prior to joining RAND in 2002, Jonathan was Head of Policy at the Wellcome Trust.

This talk will be followed with an interactive transdisciplinary panel discussion and networking session. The following day, Professor Grant will run a masterclass on research impact titled "What is impact and how to achieve it" for HELSUS and Urbaria members.


Register for the open lecture. (The event is open for everyone, but we would kindly ask you to register due to the limited capacity of the space and to reserve enough caterings)

Panel discussion

Confirmed panelists (to be updated)

Idil Gaziulusoy, Christopher Lizotte, Sophia Hagolani-Albov


Idil Gaziulusoy is a Professor of Sustainable Design at the Department of Design, Aalto University. She is a sustainability scientist and a design researcher, developing a teaching and research portfolio for imagining sustainable, equitable and resilient future systems through various approaches in design research and developing interventions to achieve these proposals. Her work is concerned with socio-technical and socio-ecological systems with a particular focus on production-consumption systems and cities. She is a global pioneer in the emerging area of design for sustainability transitions, developing theories and methods/tools for design practice dealing with sustainability transitions. She has worked as a researcher, lecturer and consultant in Australia, New Zealand and Turkey before moving to Helsinki.

Christopher Lizotte is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Geosciences and Geography at the University of Helsinki. His past work has investigated the intersections of philanthropy and school reform in the United States, as well as the French concept of secularism, laïcité, and how it is manifested through political geographies of assimilation and negotiation through that country’s school system. Currently he is undertaking a project on European nativist and nationalist politics, particularly in how such political movements operationalize borders, territory, and other spatial concepts in their pursuit of exclusionary sovereignty. He is co-editor of Handbook on the Changing Geographies of the State, forthcoming from Edward Elgar, and has published in journals such as Environment and Planning A, Environment and Planning C, Political Geography and The Canadian Geographer.

Sophia Hagolani-Albov is a PhD candidate in the Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Doctoral Programme (DENVI) in affiliation with the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry and Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) at the University of Helsinki. Her interdisciplinary research explores the socio-cultural aspects of sustainable transition and food system redesign in the Finnish countryside. In addition to her doctoral work, Sophia is a project coordinator for the Global Extractivisms and Alternatives Initiative (EXALT) at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki. Sophia also co-hosts the EXALT Initiative podcast, a monthly conversation with academics, artists, and activists (