Universities and Ports Cities: Stumbling Block, Place Filler or Innovation Hub?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleProfessional


In the Northern European context, port cities have been slow to engage with academia inside their own walls. Hamburg, Rotterdam, Bremen, and Antwerp developed their universities in the 20th century. Previously, they sent their brightest students to study elsewhere, and when they did found academic institutions, it was with an eye to the mercantile sector. In recent years, these cities’ attitude toward academic institutions has started to change. Academic buildings and institutions have played a role in the revitalization of derelict or abandoned waterfront districts, and university buildings have become iconic sites. Maritime, business, and engineering departments have traditionally collaborated with port and municipal entities, but the presence of academic institutions in former port areas and buildings may be more than a stopgap measure. Involving academic reflection also from humanities and social sciences, may foster innovation in port and city relations. Such a development would speak to the contemporary trend toward circular economies and dynamic planning strategies, as witnessed at the recent AIVP conference held at the RDM campus in Rotterdam.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPortus (online)
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Port cities
  • Port cultures
  • History
  • Universities
  • Knowledge creation


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