Universities have a 'valuable role to play' in city building

“Universities have an especially valuable role to play in catalyzing development in cities.”

Stephen Huddart, President and CEO of The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, made these remarks at the launch of Big Ideas, Better Cities, a year-long series of events showcasing how McMaster research can help cities respond to 21st century challenges.

Huddart, spoke to an audience of 140 city officials, community members, faculty, staff and students about the powerful role university/city cooperation plays in generating prosperity and shaping civic culture and wellbeing.

Stephen Huddart, President and CEO of The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, spoke to audience of 140 at the launch of Big Ideas, Better Cities.

Stephen Huddart, President and CEO of The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, spoke to audience of 140 at the launch of Big Ideas, Better Cities.

“The larger question here is around urban transformation,” says Huddart.

“We need to talk about economic challenges and about the social services that are delivered by cities and figure out how we can address those together. As a civic actor, the university has a role to play in applying its academic, research and economic capacity to real issues in the community to help enable this transformation to happen.”

Huddart’s talk was the first event in the Big Ideas Better Cities series which will run from September 2015 to April 2016 and will feature community-based events designed to bring McMaster researchers and their international colleagues together with our local and regional community members to explore ways to build smart, healthy, creative cities.

McMaster President Patrick Deane, Flamborough Ward 15 Councillor, Judi Partridge, and Associate Vice-President, Faculty Susan Searls Giroux, were on hand for the launch, which took place at the David Braley Health Sciences Centre in downtown Hamilton.

“Supporting the creation of vibrant, healthy, sustainable cities that enable the development, productivity and longevity of all citizens is critically important,” says Searls Giroux, who is leading this initiative.

“Through the work of our talented researchers and collaborations with our community partners, McMaster has focused considerable research strength on this area. We invite communities, both local and beyond, as well as McMaster faculty, staff and students, to join us for these special events and to take part in this important dialogue.”

Big Ideas, Better Cities involves more than 60 McMaster researchers campus-wide. Each event is being organized by a team of interdisciplinary researchers and is the result of consultations within the University community and with City of Hamilton officials.

The next event in the Big Ideas, Better Cities series is Living long, Living well: A Symposium on the Plasticity of Aging (Sept. 29 to Oct. 1). This event will feature Margaret Trudeau with her talk, The Time of your Life: Choosing a Vibrant, Joyful Future.


Big Ideas, Better Cities is funded through Forward with Integrity and is part of a number of initiatives currently underway to enhance and support research at McMaster.

Big Ideas, Better Cities will highlight McMaster’s cutting-edge research and explore the ways McMaster research can help cities respond to 21st century challenges.


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