24 January 2019

Senior academics from the Universities of London and a range of Parisian Universities participate in a creative economy workshop and plan for an international summer school.

This Paris-London event, supported and hosted by the Mairie de Paris on January 15th, proved successful in further developing relationships between the major universities of the two cities. The workshop considered new collaborations with Parisian academic and cultural institutions, particularly in relationship to the creative economy. 

The meeting was organised by the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP) and participants included senior academics from the University of London and its member institutions, academics from a number of the Universities of Paris, representatives of the British Embassy as well as representatives of Parisian cultural institutions. They were welcomed to the Hôtel de Ville on January 15th by Marie-Christine Lemardeley, Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of higher education, research and student life, Christophe Girard, Deputy Mayor of Paris for Culture, and Patrick Klugman, Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of International Relations and Francophonie.

Meeting on the same day as Theresa May’s Brexit deal was rejected by the British Parliament, numerous participants expressed their determination to foster international links despite the United Kingdom’s imminent departure from the European Union. Marie-Christine Lemardeley noted that cities often find themselves in greater political alignment than nation-states and spoke of mayor Anne Hidalgo’s commitment to reinforcing the close relationship between Paris and London. Similarly, many of the representatives of the London universities spoke of a desire to establish links at all levels between their own institutions and the higher education institutions of Paris.

Peter Kopelman (Vice-Chancellor, University of London) highlighted the central role of ULIP in these future partnerships. He reminded attendees of the institute’s history, dating from the late nineteenth century, and its unique role in fostering Franco-British cultural relations. In this regard, it was noted that “the founding principles of ULIP are just as important today as they were in 1894”. Furthermore, emphasizing the importance of partnerships which transcend contemporary political obstacles, Kopelman noted that “In the light of Brexit, it’s all the more important that we underline our Europeanness despite our leaving the European Union.”

The development of future programmes around the ‘creative economy’ was a high priority for the workshop and Rick Rylance, Director of the School of Advanced Study, underlined the importance of being specific about what the term entails, how it advances the integration of the humanities and digital technologies and, similarly, how it challenges us to rethink conventional framing of academic disciplines. Relatedly, Claire Colomb (Academic Director for Paris in the UCL Cities Programme) suggested the creative economy will have to be approached more critically given that its rise is situated within, and perhaps often complicit with, broader issues around urban policy and gentrification.

Following a lengthy discussion in which participants were in resounding agreement regarding the benefits of this partnership, the workshop concluded with a concrete proposal: an international summer school, co-funded by the various institutions present, taking place both in and between the two cities. 

After the meeting, Marie-Christine Lemardeley kindly gave the participants a guided tour of the impressive surroundings of the Hotel de Ville before some of the delegates visited ULIP. Later in the year, ULIP will be organising follow-up events to help build strategic London-Paris link-ups in the creative industries.

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