Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Town and Gown: What Great Cities Can Teach Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education
October 20th, 2014

Cities and colleges are more alike than people think. Both are considered economic engines that also offer rites of passage and an escape from parochialism. Both host sports teams and their own police forces. Recently the overwhelming debts run up by cities and by students have forced themselves on the public’s attention. Yet despite the significant woes of Detroit and the impending bankruptcies of other American cities, no one is expecting urban living to disappear or be radically transformed. Higher education, however, is not so lucky.
Some doomsayers predict the rise of a completely online educational system, spurred by the spread of massive open online courses. Telecommuting did not destroy cities, but many fear it will do so to colleges.
In the 1970s, some critics thought that cities were finished. There was nothing you could get in a city that could not be found in a suburb, at least nothing you would want. With the advent of telecommuting in the 90s, even Bill Gates championed a new exurban existence. Home offices would replace office buildings just as shopping malls replaced downtown department stores.

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