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April 13, 2009

universities as economic anchors

Gar Alperovitz, Ted Howard, and their colleagues at Community-Wealth.org have argued for some time that we need economic institutions that are anchored in communities. It doesn't matter so much whether they are public or private, non-profit or for-profit. What matters is that they cannot move, so that they have to invest in their communities (or at least minimize their damage).

From that perspective, one of the most significant facts about colleges and universities is that they are economic enterprises that cannot move. They collectively do tens of billions of dollars of business. Their impact can either be helpful or harmful, and their students and faculty have some influence on how they behave. Thus the discussion of universities and democracy must broaden beyond education and research to include economic issues. A great guide is Gar Alperovitz, Steve Dubb, and Ted Howard, "The Next Wave: Building University Engagement for the 21st Century," The Good Society, vol. 17, no. 2 (2008), pp. 69-75, available in PDF. They end with some interesting policy recommendations, including an urban extension service and a new federal initiative in ten pilot cities.

April 13, 2009 3:38 PM | category: academia | Comments


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