The university as a Just anchor: universities, anchor networks and participatory research

Liam O'Farrell, Sara Hassan, Charlotte Hoole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper, we connect literature on civic universities and anchor institutions with the notion of visibility to explore how universities can play more engaged roles in their areas. We introduce the concept of ‘just anchors’, which are institutions with strategies to achieve local social, economic and epistemic justice goals through collaboration in networks of other anchors and knowledge co-production with citizens. This paper is based on data from USE-IT!, an ERDF-funded programme that developed mechanisms to build social resilience in inner-city wards of Birmingham, the second-largest city in England. Our findings show that co-production empowers citizens, and that universities are well-placed to facilitate and benefit from the outputs of this process. Based on the experience of delivering a community researcher training scheme, we reflect on the potential of universities to be more visible to, and facilitate the visibility of, marginalised groups, introducing a new theoretical concept into the literature on universities as anchor institutions. We also draw further lessons from USE-IT! to offer practice-based recommendations to other universities seeking to activate their role as just anchors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Higher Education
Early online date6 May 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 May 2022


  • Community engagement
  • Participation
  • coproduction
  • social inequality
  • university practices


Dive into the research topics of 'The university as a Just anchor: universities, anchor networks and participatory research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this