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  The Civic University: what is the future role of the University? University of Greenwich as a place-based civic institution

   School of Humanities and Social Sciences

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  Dr Elena Vaccehelli, Dr Jeffrey Powell, Dr Benjamin Tippet  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

We are proposing an interdisciplinary studentship to develop the vision of Greenwich as a Civic University. As part of our ‘This is our time’ strategy 2030 (UoG, 2023), public and community engagement, and specifically building long-term relationships with key community stakeholders, has been identified as a priority. The Civic University, an old concept but for UKHE today a new ‘business model’ (Goddard et al., 2016), requires an ability to integrate teaching, research and engagement with the outside world in a way that enhances all participants. It provides a framework to ensure that research has socio-economic impact, and that teaching has strong community involvement with the long-term objective of widening participation. 

Stage 1

Determine best practice and important lessons learned from universities that have pioneered the concept (including assessing the progress at Greenwich and Medway); visiting civic universities and the communities they serve.

Stage 2

Understand who are UoG’s ‘communities’; how do they understand their relationship to the university?; and what aspirations do they have for the development of that relationship? This mapping and exploration of partnering will be guided by the domains identified in the Civic Impact Framework (2021): social impact; environment; health and well-being; cultural contribution; economic impact; estates and facilities.

Stage 3

Co-production with these identified communities to the greatest extent possible, to formulate what the Greenwich Civic University might look like, and to assess the economic/ social value and advantages of such commitment.


A social justice oriented focus on engaging local communities is at the forefront of CCSJ activities, and establishing a postgraduate community is key to its development plans in view of REF 2028. This is an important time to cultivate and support the Centre’s PG research community and establishing it as an important research hub.  The scholarship will fund a PhD student to develop the project and harness the established relationship and membership CCSJ has with with Citizens UK. Citizens UK’s strategy of community organising is central for the proposed project.

Testament to the interdisciplinary nature of the proposal application, PEGFA’s focus is on the economic and corporate responsibility and governance of economic agents. The studentship would help PEGFA to strengthen its linkages with Greenwich communities, informing how its research agenda is set, and deepening members’ understanding of local accountability. Research output on topics including inequalities, unemployment, the green economy, and public investment are of direct relevance for Greenwich communities, and would be complemented by new initiatives which respond more explicitly to the identified needs of those communities. 


·      Work with Citizens UK to assess relevance of local context for 21st century university, in particular the role of Greenwich University in the leadership of place given increasing pressure from local and national government for universities to actively engage with local communities .

·      Co-produce a needs assessment of local communities, industry and LAs in Greenwich and Meadway

·      Produce empirical evidence including mapping of community engagement work being done at UoG and business assessment of benefits from relationship with place where they are located

·      Promote dialogue between civic universities and between university and policy makers to develop idea of university as an ‘anchor’ institution- academic practice should be relevant to place where students and academics live, study. and work as citizens.


The proposed VC scholarship will combine both a sociological and a political economy perspective on the role of the UoG as a place-based institution, that is, one where all activities – teaching, research and knowledge exchange – are embedded into the university’s communities. As part if theis VC schoalrhip, partners will be drawn from local authorities, public service organisations, charities, and social enterprises. Students can also be an active part of this mix, acting as knowledge transfer agents through work placements linked to their courses, employed in the organisations where they work and create further links between the university and the people who make the university.

Economics (10) Education (11) Geography (17) Sociology (32)

Funding Notes

Bursary available (subject to satisfactory performance):
Year 1: £18,622 (FT) or pro-rata (PT) Year 2: In line with UKRI rate Year 3: In line with UKRI rate

In addition, the successful candidate will receive a contribution to tuition fees equivalent to the university’s Home rate, currently £4,712 (FT) or pro-rata (PT), for the duration of their scholarship. International applicants will need to pay the remainder tuition fee for the duration of their scholarship.
This fee is subject to an annual increase.
Duration: 3 years, Full-Time Study or 6 years, Part-Time Study

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