This subproject will focus on universities and their professors. Numerous European universities are very old institutions and closely associated to their city, where they contribute to education, culture and intellectual life, as well as urban economic development. In their long-term history, from the “ivory tower” of the middle-ages to the “bright satanic mills” of the current knowledge economy, the role and function of universities as well as the form of their embeddedness in local societies have undergone profound changes.
Academic elites represent a category of local elites which plays a crucial role in urban and regional development. Besides education, intellectual life and economic development, academic elites may also be involved in urban politics and cultural life, with close connections to other local elites. However, contrary to political and administrative elites, academic professors do not formally need to be Swiss nationals and therefore scientific and academic institutions have been based on early international exchange and mobility. How this articulation between local embeddedness and global connections has evolved during the 20th century will be at the center of our attention. We will develop two research axes. The first axis will focus on the local rootedness and transnational connections of university professors (in terms of education, career, professional activities and extra-academic networks or activities). The second one will analyze the collaboration of various local elites (political, economic, cultural and academic) in the governance and management of their cantonal university.