Building on last year’s inaugural Symposium in London, the second WC2 Symposium took place in Berlin, Germany from Monday 8th to Friday 12th of August. Hosted by the Technische Universität Berlin, the Symposium brought together 140 participants (70 students and 70 staff) from 10 member universities and 2 additional non-member universities for a week long symposium designed to address cultural, environmental and political issues pertaining to world cities.
The theme for the Symposium was ‘Universities as Urban Actors: Towards the New Urban Agenda’. This agenda and the role of cities and the universities within them in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provided the Symposium with an overarching framework and several sessions, including one on the relationship between the WC2 network and the SDGs were weaved into the week’s programme.
The Symposium opened with keynote speeches from Prof. Dr.-Ing. Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, the Permanent Secretary for Building and Housing with the Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment and Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Director at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
After the keynotes, an introduction to the New Urban Agenda was given by Prof. Günter Meinert and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Philipp Misselwitz. This introduction was complimented by a panel Discussion regarding the New Urban Agenda. The panel discussion highlighted the importance of the interplay between city government agencies and universities as collaborative urban actors.
Following the opening morning, participants followed a programme in one of five theme areas: Business, Eco-campus; Global Cultures; Global Health; and Transport. Led by and with input from staff from member institutions, each programme consisted of presentations, seminars, exercises and excursions.
Students undertook preparatory work in advance of and worked within groups during the Symposium. On Thursday afternoon, they presented their outputs to the wider group. These outputs varied from theme to theme but included: model eco-campus; an analysis of global health data; films; games and a website.
To encourage the involvement and representation of Global South perspectives and expertise, the Technische Universität Berlin successfully applied for funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research to supports participation from the Global South by assisting with travel costs. This funding was available to students and early career academics from Global South WC2 member institutions and students and post doctorate academics from outside the WC2 network.
Just under 300 people have now participated in a WC2 Symposium, with over half of these being students. The third WC2 Symposium will take place at the University of São Paulo from 14th to 19th August 2017.
"The Symposium was a great success as it was an excellent opportunity for students and faculty to engage in collective teaching, learning and collaborative work and experience the enrichment of cultural diversity, openness and internationality in solving relevant global issues”.
Prof. Dr. Angela Ittel, Vice President for International Relations and Teacher Education, TU Berlin.
“Not only did the Symposium provide over 70 students with a high quality international education experience, it provided a platform for staff from WC2 institutions to discuss the further development of the network and to identify areas of potential collaboration between their respective institutions”.
Prof. Stanton Newman, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) City University London and Chair of the WC2 Network.