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.
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.