The power of place

1-3 September 2020, Toronto, Canada

What is the THE  World Academic Summit?

The 2020 Times Higher Education World Academic Summit will focus on the interrelationship between universities and the places in which they are located. The modern university’s mission is evolving. The increasingly interconnected and knowledge-intensive global economy has raised questions about innovation, talent, skills and tomorrow’s workforce. Many universities are reimagining their traditional roles, as students, faculty and staff alike create new opportunities for education and research in partnership with their local communities and regions.

Cities, towns and regions are also re-evaluating their relationships with their institutions of higher education and advanced research, as these institutions are increasingly recognised as vital drivers of resiliency, prosperity and regional success.

University presidents, world-class researchers, political leaders and senior executives from transnational business will gather in Toronto to examine the complex interrelation between university and place.


Core topics

Universities’ contribution to place

Universities serve as long-term economic and civic anchors in their local communities. How can host regions best draw on their universities for reinvention and resiliency? How can cities and towns collaborate with universities on innovation and entrepreneurship?

Place’s impact on universities

A university’s host region plays a critical role in attracting and retaining students, staff and faculty.  Local prosperity, co-location with industry and government, and the engagement of citizens and corporate partners all contribute to a university’s success. How can universities build on and develop these advantages, regardless of the size or geographic location of the host region? How can universities and their host regions work together for mutual advantage?  And how are 21st-century universities shaped by the politics and policies of their host countries and regions?

Has digital replaced physical space?

A decade ago, much was written about the digital revolution making traditional, “bricks and mortar” universities increasingly irrelevant. But in many places today, the opposite seems true. Online tools have grown in importance and influence, while paradoxically emphasizing the value of physical place. How can universities, regardless of resources or geographic location, harness the power of online tools? How does the digital complement the local?

How do global networks complement local success? 

What is the relationship between the local and the global? With a growing backlash against globalisation taking hold in many regions, this question is assuming ever-greater importance. Are research universities beacons of internationalisation? Or are they playing an unintended role in perpetuating tensions in our globalised world? And what does a university’s location contribute to regional and international partnerships and networks?


As a platform for understanding power shifts in the world of universities, THE summits are hard to beat.

Tim Dunnee
Pro vice-chancellor
University of Queensland


A very well organized event with interesting topics, a high level group of participants and professionals, adequate networking opportunities, and a chance to meet industry specialists.

Karma El Hassan
Director of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment
American University of Beirut


This is one of the most intellectually stimulating conferences I have been to in a long time. The Times Higher Education summit is creating a vehicle for governance-like discussion.

Mitchell Stevens
Associate professor
Stanford University


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