The transformative power of the global civic university: sub-strategy details

Find out what it means to be a global civic university, and how we will work collaboratively to address the major challenges of our age.

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This new pillar of the Vision and Strategy 2030 was developed in collaboration and consultation with staff, students and partners in business, policy and community organisations.

To us, being a global civic university means that we will address the major challenges of our age in collaboration. We will listen to, respond and work together with people, communities, organisations and industries, locally, nationally and globally.

Multiple new and existing initiatives underpin our ambitions. For example, the New University Library will create an inclusive cultural hub for the city and the Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus will bring together staff, students and industry and community partners to explore new practice in innovation and enterprise, collaborative research and engaged learning.

We now have the opportunity to embed existing collaborative practice across the institution, provide ways for all staff and students to get involved and put partnership at the heart of how we work.

The major challenges of the next century – including addressing the climate emergency, tackling inequalities, and promoting inclusive, sustainable economic growth – need shared, global solutions that drive policy change but are rooted in local action.

This new strategic pillar acknowledges our responsibility to address these challenges, as a global research and education institution, as an employer, and as a neighbour.


We will embed the global civic mission across the University, accelerating our partnership working in research and teaching, testing new methodologies of engagement at our campuses and providing new routes into education and employment at the University.

An ethos of collaboration will run through all we do as an institution. We will engage critically and substantively with the challenges and opportunities facing the city and beyond.

In particular, we will contribute to delivering Bristol’s One City Plan, with its explicit link to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and co-produce a Civic University Agreement with key city partners including Bristol City Council. We will address global challenges in a local context and share solutions globally.

By 2030 we will have made a substantial contribution to:

  • Climate and environmental action, including supporting Bristol’s Net Zero ambition
  • Addressing inequalities, particularly in education, health and access to employment
  • Social justice, with a particular focus on working with the city of Bristol on reconciliation and reparative justice relating to the transatlantic slave trade
  • Driving equitable and sustainable economic growth, including by attracting investment to the city-region and through inclusive job creation

We will increasingly frame our work in the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring we can measure impact and be held to account. Our aim is for the global civic university Sub-strategy to be responsive to local and global needs.

We will be transparent in sharing our progress and provide mechanisms for communities and partners to continue to shape our work.

Aims and objectives

1. Future through partnership

Co-create a more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous future, working in partnership with a wide range of organisations across a breadth of local, national and global communities.

Because: as a global civic institution we can make a positive impact locally, nationally and globally by convening conversations and driving action to address the challenges ahead.


  • 1.1 Address the climate and ecological emergency and its impacts locally and globally, including through collaborative research, engaged learning and our own sustainability practices, supporting the city of Bristol's ambition to be carbon neutral by 2030.
  • 1.2 Make an active contribution to social justice, locally and globally, with a particular focus on working with the city of Bristol to address the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade.
  • 1.3 Support education in the city-region and help address the challenge of educational disadvantage by working in partnership with local schools and FE colleges, via our participation in Bristol Learning City and our sponsorship of schools within the Venturers Trust.
  • 1.4 Co-create innovative solutions that address health and wellbeing inequalities in the city-region and beyond, by building on our existing collaborations, including with the NHS and our membership of Bristol Health Partners.
  • 1.5 Be an active contributor to the diverse cultural life of the city-region by expanding and diversifying our rich programme of public events, our partnerships with cultural organisations, and increasing access to our Theatre and Special Collections.

2. Empowered participation

Enable all staff and students to participate in and drive our civic mission and ensure that the whole university community reflects the diversity of the city region.

Because: our civic ambitions can be best shaped and delivered collectively by a diverse and empowered university community.


  • 2.1 Provide opportunities for students at all levels to contribute to the University's global civic mission within and beyond the curriculum, building on our flagship Bristol Futures framework.
  • 2.2 Recognise and enable the contribution of our staff to our global civic mission and provide a range of opportunities for every staff member.
  • 2.3 Create a lifelong learning strategy with new flexible degree programmes and routes through education to increase the proportion of mature learners in the University and generate a local talent pipeline, maximising informal learning opportunities across sectors through initiatives such as Twilight Temple Quarter.
  • 2.4 Challenge the inequalities that impact learners from under-represented groups which prevent full access to higher education and affect students’ ability to thrive and succeed through our widening participation and student inclusion initiatives.
  • 2.5 Better reflect the diversity of the wider Bristol community in our workforce through initiatives such as apprenticeships, our JOIN US! recruitment scheme and careers outreach programmes, ensuring that employment opportunities at the University are accessible to all.

3. Inclusive places, engaging people

Ensure our existing infrastructure and new developments – including the flagship Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus and New University Library – are key drivers of the global civic mission and are shaped in collaboration with local communities and businesses.

Because: having one of the largest physical and operational footprints across the city provides many opportunities to embody our civic values and our commitment to social responsibility.


  • 3.1 Develop new places and place-based initiatives in collaboration with local authorities, employers and communities, as models of positive social, cultural, environmental and economic impact.
  • 3.2 Promote ongoing access to our estates, collections, public art, gardens and libraries for members of the public, developing these further as inclusive assets for local communities and businesses.
  • 3.3 Nurture thriving and integrated student and staff communities in the city, working closely with Bristol City Council and drawing on learning from successful initiatives across the UK and Europe including LaunchPad.
  • 3.4 Develop a more widely-accessible supply chain that is inclusive, ethical, and environmentally sustainable, by improving information and guidance and encouraging bids for contracts from regional small to medium businesses, social enterprises, and voluntary and community sector organisations.

4. Responsible innovation and enterprise

Facilitate and co-produce social and technical innovation, from new products and services to new enterprises and structures, driving social, cultural, environmental and economic impacts.

Because: sharing knowledge and expertise, and collaborative innovation, are key to generating positive impacts such as inclusive growth, social value and increased wellbeing.


  • 4.1 Tackle the most pressing local and global challenges by increasing our capacity to translate our research into real-world solutions.
  • 4.2 Scale up our range of successful enterprise education initiatives to meet societal needs locally and globally.
  • 4.3 Advocate for Bristol in national and international fora to help attract people and inward investment to the city-region.
  • 4.4 Develop Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus as a magnet for business and community organisations of all types and sizes, allowing the co-development of talent and skills pipelines, and fostering responsible innovation practice.
  • 4.5 Drive inclusive job creation and ensure the competitiveness of our region in national and global terms through our role in regional government and consortia, such as Bristol City Council, West of England Combined Authority, GW4 and the Western Gateway.
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