After a successful meeting in February, the City Science Initiative meets again in Amsterdam from the 11th to the 12th of June. Cities like Groningen, Paris, Lublin, Warsaw and Hamburg will be hosted by Caroline Nevejan, Chief Science Officer of the City of Amsterdam in order to discuss their strategies. Below some of the challenges this new initiative is trying to tackle:
Governance and finance for City Science
Cities are not only in need of more research on the urban challenges they are facing, they are also in need of a better connection with science and a better understanding of available research. To bridge the gap between research institutions and local government one has to take into account their different needs: where universities insist on independence, local governments prioritize political responsibilities and specific solutions. This also means that definitions of ‘academic excellence’ in universities provide targets which are not directly commensurable with the targets of local government, where academic research is judged by its social impact, which is difficult to measure. Governance also implies financing. Even though both local government and universities are funded by public money, financing happens through differing channels. It is therefore often difficult to find a common ground.
• How can universities be stimulated to maintain definitions of excellence that include social impact?
• How can local governments formally or informally influence research agendas of universities?
Learning and communication between science and policy
Universities and local government make use of differing languages, processes and quality assessments. Therefore it is difficult to come to better cooperation and effective communication is a bottleneck issue. One of the ways to come to better cooperation between science and policy, is to better understand existing best practices. One of the aims of the City Science Initiative is to collect these best practices.
• What best practices exist to improve learning and communication between science and policy that can be used in cities?
• How can learning and communication between science and policy be improved on a structural level?
A need for a new research paradigm on City Science
The City Science Initiative could develop into a Community of Practice of City Science Officers: a community of people sharing experiences from their work practice and developing new knowledge from this cooperation, in a way similar to which scientists form communities of practice. The community of practice can develop a shared language and shared concepts to establish a new research paradigm for urban research: fundamental research across the board, including both social and natural sciences. This fundamental research is aimed at answering questions on the governance of research on the local level: what is the relation between university and the city and how can knowledge and data be shared? At this point, only few researchers are trained to answer these types of questions. This new form of research should be interdisciplinary and aim at urban social impact. City science is distinct in its methodologies, standardization, assessment valorisation and focus on agenda setting and impact.
• What are the necessary ingredients for a new research paradigm for City Science?
• What steps are needed to establish such a research paradigm and to create a community of practice?
These among others are the questions and challenges that will be addressed during the second City Science Initiative Meeting in Amsterdam. Stay tuned for our feedbacks on twitter!