Summer School 2015

From 1 - 15th July, staff and students from our U21 partner institutions gathered in Glasgow for the annual Universitas 21 (U21) Summer School - a highly successful event which gave delegates a taste of Glasgow’s rich culture and beautiful campus.
The theme of the 2015 U21 Summer School was 'Cities and Citizens in the Digital Age', which offered attendees a stimulating and varied programme of seminars and practical experiences, demonstrating how new technologies can be used to support and improve the vital components of a fully functional city, with the overall aim of bringing knowledge, policy and practice closer together.



Cities are complex, dynamic structures: difficult to predict and manage, with everyday issues arising in economic stability, energy security, environmental integrity, independent living, communications, built environment and civic participation.

Understanding how these services combine to produce a city level effect is a challenge. Their sheer complexity and unpredictability makes the policy setting and management of effective, high-functioning, successful cities an increasingly important social and economic priority. Successful cities are those which position themselves to understand systemic behaviours and develop policy and service responses which address the issues these create – an ability to respond and adapt to the changing environment around them.

The U21 Summer School offered a programme of seminars and practical experiences demonstrating how new technologies can be used to support and improve the vital components of a fully functional city. This covered citizen engagement, transportation, energy, big data, protecting vulnerable groups and physical regeneration, with a focus on how key services are increasingly informed and influenced by emerging technologies.




This year’s programme spanned a fascinating range of issues, including community engagement, transportation, connectivity, big data, and physical regeneration, and featured a broad panel of guest speakers, including senior academics and researchers from across the U21 Network, as well as government advisers, public sector stakeholders, and project managers. Key contributors included:

  • Clyde Gateway
  • IBM
  • Scottish government
  • Glasgow city council
  • Gallery of Modern Art
  • Glasgow school of Art
  • George Hazel consulting
  • Glasgow Centre for population health
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of Dundee

The programme consisted of both social and academic aspects and allowed students to fully experience the University’s offerings. Access to all areas of the campus was granted, as well as the opportunity to engage with existing students during campus tours. The social was designed to include visiting some of Scotland’s tourist hotspots such as Edinburgh castle, Loch Lomond and Glengoyne whiskey distillery. A ceilidh hosted in the University Union also helped introduce students to some Scottish traditions as well as an urban masters reception to discuss and explore study options and to hear from students currently partaking in international programmes.




Staff feedback

Dr Svenja Hanson , Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus


Both students and staff had a fantastic time, and we did appreciate your enormous effort to host us. Glasgow 2015 will not be forgotten. I have a feeling that a good number of friendships, ideas and collabs are going to live on for years to come.”


Student feedback:

“I really enjoyed the lectures on public health and planning. They gave me perspective on my major and ideas for my honors thesis.”

Robert Montgomery, University of Maryland


“I really enjoyed the feeling of working together to make the city a better place.”

Peng Wensa, University of Fudan


The university of Glasgow would like to thank the U21 secretariat, students, staff and all other participants who attended and contributed towards such a successful event. We also wish Shanghai Jiao Tong University all the very best for what will undoubtedly be another exciting summer school in 2016.