Creating global-ready places: the campus-community connection: global demographics are shaping new civic patterns which will strengthen the relationship between universities and cities in ways that create local prosperity.
Universities and colleges (United States)
Universities and colleges (Demographic aspects)
Universities and colleges (International aspects)
Intellectual cooperation (International aspects)
Urban renewal (Educational aspects)
Chapman, M. Perry
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Name: Planning for Higher Education Publisher: Society for College and University Planning Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Education Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Society for College and University Planning ISSN: 0736-0983
Date: July-Sept, 2009 Source Volume: 37 Source Issue: 4
Product Code: 8220000 Colleges & Universities; 9107150 Urban Renewal Programs NAICS Code: 61131 Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools; 92512 Administration of Urban Planning and Community and Rural Development SIC Code: 8221 Colleges and universities
Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States

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The forces of globalization are reshaping the relationships between U.S. higher education institutions and their host communities in the 21st century. Universities and cities are challenged to redefine their niches in the international marketplace, where ideas and knowledge are the new currency. That mutual challenge is driving new forms of town-gown collaboration aimed at economic and civic development. The logic of linking and leveraging civic and institutional resources to make cities and universities global-ready is compelling, with robust precedents in the nation's past.

Collaboration between universities and their localities to foster regional economic development has long been part of U.S. collegiate history, becoming a de facto instrument of national public policy with the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862. In the burgeoning post-war decades of the 20th century, the civic fabric of many localities was altered as much by the growth of higher education institutions as by any other form of urban development. After World War II, the concept of urban renewal was used to spur institutional growth in declining inner city areas. At the same time, universities also began to embark on ambitious real-estate projects to accommodate their research and development enterprises, occasionally working in concert with the public sector on these efforts. Silicon Valley and the North Carolina Research Triangle are significant examples of regional transformation resulting from such ventures.

This article posits that we are poised in this century to reimagine new civic patterns that bring universities and cities together in their common quest for global readiness--a quest we can use as a tool to create better local places. The background of this idea comes from two sources: (1) a centuries-old story of the durability of the civic-institutional relationship, and (2) a 21st-century understanding of the global factors driving the need to rethink the relationship between campus and community.


The Sorbonne: An Old Story with Modern Lessons

In 1964, Clark Kerr made his memorable observation about the enduring nature of universities as worldly institutions: "About 85 institutions in the Western World established by 1520 still exist in recognizable forms, with similar functions and with unbroken histories, including the Catholic church, the Parliaments of the Isle of Man, of Iceland and of Great Britain, several Swiss cantons and 70 universities" (Kerr 1964, p. 115). One of the oldest of Kerr's 70 venerable institutions is the Sorbonne (the University of Paris), which has been closely bound with its city for roughly eight centuries (figure 1). The university was chartered at the beginning of the 13th century under the reign of King Philip II, who also saw the city's main thoroughfares paved and its central market built. The Sorbonne began as a European center of theological teaching. Despite periods of retrenchment during the Reformation and the French Revolution, the university survived to become one of the world's leading scientific institutions, with 13 successor universities located throughout Paris and its environs. The Sorbonne has maintained its identity, even as it has been remade several times as a center of thought for a changing city and a changing world. In the bargain, the magnetism of Paris has nurtured the university's global preeminence. The two entities are intertwined, not just in the civic fabric, but in their place in the world.

The relationship between the Sorbonne and the city of Paris illustrates those attributes that the global campus of the 21st century must possess--longevity of purpose and place and the ability to be both a source of regional identity and an engine of social change. Universities are among only a handful of socioeconomic entities that are defined by their staying power and their lasting ties to the localities in which they have evolved. As they fulfill their missions as sources of intellectual discovery and innovation, universities inevitably foster social and economic change within their communities. Because a university is integral to its host city's identity--and, in fact, is most likely the foundation of that identity--it can be a powerful force for connecting that city to the larger world.

Enter the Flat World

Fast forward to the world in which U.S. universities and their host communities must now compete, one whose new order is not just economic, but also demographic, technological, and geopolitical. Thomas Friedman (2005) reminds us that as recently as 1985 the countries comprising what he calls the global economic world (that is, countries fully engaged in international capital trade) represented a population of 2.5 billion. However, since 1985, China, India, and Russia have added nearly three billion people to the global economic world, more than doubling its population. Although starting with forms of economic governance either less developed than or fundamentally opposed to those in the West, these three countries launched their considerable technical, intellectual, and workforce resources into the capitalist mainstream and now compete ferociously with Western economies in today's post-industrial, knowledge-based world. Fareed Zakaria (2008, p. 1) describes this new global order not as a signal of American economic decline, but as the "rise of the rest." Before the current downturn, emerging economies throughout the world were growing faster than the U.S. economy, fueled by engines of wealth creation ranging from initial public offerings to broadband penetration to foreign exchange reserves.

Academic Globalization

Consider the impact of globalization in the 21st century as it relates to the academy and, ultimately, to the link between campuses and communities mutually striving to be productive players in the new global arena. As more of the world's people seek a place in the global economy, whether as technicians, machine tool operators, accountants, artists, or physicists, the worldwide demand for all forms of postsecondary education will flourish over the next two generations. The number of postsecondary degree candidates in the world in 1990 was estimated at 42 million (Van der Wende 2002). By 2025, barely a generation hence, that number is projected to rise to 159 million--nearly 10 times the number of postsecondary students currently enrolled in the United States. As in the United States, first-time postsecondary students around the world will be both traditional college-aged learners and older part-time students for whom lifelong education is essential in a time of continuous technological change. This demand for increased access to postsecondary education will likely be met by some combination of new and expanded institutions, institutional collaborations, for-profit providers, and, of course, all manner of digital learning and media convergences not yet invented.

Asia offers an extraordinary example of academic globalization. China and India, which traditionally have been the largest sources of foreign student enrollment in the United States, are rapidly expanding their academic infrastructures (Fishman 2004). China's 2004 enrollment of 17 million college students was triple the number enrolled five years earlier, and the Chinese government has authorized the creation of 1,250 new universities since 2006. Similarly, India's National Knowledge Commission (2006) has promoted the expansion of the country's postsecondary education system from 350 universities in 2006 to 1,500 "more appropriately scaled and more nimble" universities by 2015 (p. 3). When India and China's 2.5 billion people are brought into Friedman's global economic world, it is little wonder that universities have to be created by the thousands. For the most part, these are new place-based institutions destined to be part of the civic infrastructure of localities scattered throughout the two countries. On a lesser scale, this is also happening in other parts of Asia and the Middle East. The campus-community relationship is alive and growing in the global economic world.

Other Western countries moved rapidly to respond to the demand created as fewer foreign students applied or enrolled in U.S. universities following the tightening of student visa requirements in the wake of 9/11. The new requirements had a chilling effect on international enrollment in the United States, particularly at the graduate level, resulting in an average 32 percent decline in the number of foreign applicants in 2004 and 2005 among some 230 institutions surveyed by the Council of Graduate Schools (O'Neil 2004). Conversely, Great Britain's foreign student enrollment increased from 225,000 in 2000 to 275,000 in 2002. Canada's foreign student enrollment increased from 70,000 in 2000 to 120,000 in 2003, and Australia nearly doubled its international student body to 125,000 between 2000 and 2004 (Chapman 2006). Given that English is the primary language of international business and science, it is not surprising that many international educational competitors are located in English-speaking countries.

Europe as a whole is also positioning itself as a powerful force in the global academy. Twenty-nine European countries signed on to the Bologna Accord in 1999, with the aim of creating a unified and accessible degree system to promote continent-wide student mobility under a "European focus for higher education" (Graduate Management News 2005, unpaginated Web source). Another goal of the agreement is the creation of a postsecondary system that can undergird Europe's post-industrial competitiveness. While the Bologna reforms seem to be in a continuing state of flux, it is fair to say that Europe is following a path that the United States must follow as well, which is to wed the cultural, technical, and creative resources of their institutions and their cities to create the intellectual capital demanded in the 21st century.

The social, economic, and geopolitical value of the U.S. higher education enterprise in a rapidly integrating economic world cannot be minimized. Higher education has been one of the United States' most successful exports for most of the post-World War II era. Of the roughly two million collegians studying abroad in 2008, over 620,000 (or nearly one-third) were studying in the United States (Institute of International Education 2008). Foreign enrollment in the United States has rebounded to a level exceeding the 2002-03 peak gained before the post-9/11 declines. Foreign students infuse $15.5 billion annually into the U.S. economy. Foreign scholars have made impressive contributions to the U.S. business and intellectual environment, from groundbreaking scientific discoveries to the founding of important knowledge-based enterprises. By 2010, more than 50 percent of the Ph.D.s. awarded in all subjects in the United States (and perhaps as much as 75 percent in the sciences) will go to foreign scholars (Zakaria 2008). Immigration policy may well be destiny if the United States is to maintain its innovation edge.

Globalization is changing the United States faster than any other society.

The important question for the future, however, is not whether U.S. higher education must maintain hegemonic supremacy in the world, but how it will be strategically integrated into the more dynamic, distributed infrastructure of learning and research that must be made available globally. The essential work of U.S. institutions is to sustain the vitality and diversity of their teaching and research missions by contributing to the world's stock of knowledge in collaboration with one another and with institutions abroad. Further, as engines of economic and social change in their localities and regions, higher education institutions must energize this shared endeavor with their host communities to forge enduring strategies for global readiness.

The Meaning to U.S. Localities

As Lester Thurow (2003) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology notes, globalization is, in fact, changing the United States faster than any other society. He observes that Americans scarcely notice that fact because they tenaciously hold to the belief that the global economy will simply be an enlarged version of the U.S. economy. But as we know, over the last two decades production has moved offshore more rapidly from the United States than from anywhere else, and we have witnessed an increase in the offshoring and outsourcing of white collar jobs once thought to be bulletproof. This affects not just the old Rust-Belt cities that once manufactured everything the United States and most of the rest of the world used, but localities throughout the country that must now grapple with the footloose nature of global capital and its attendant consolidations, mergers, downsizing, and decamping to other locales and shores. Still, despite today's economic crisis, the United States remains the most competitive economy in the world and leads in the development of most of the advanced technologies that will propel the future global economy (Zakaria 2008). This owes, in no small way, to the contributions of basic academic research, non-profit and for-profit technology transfer, and the concentrations of such activities in localities where innovation has a synergistic effect. For college communities, the challenge is to leverage their civic and intellectual capital in response to the economic and cultural forces of a knowledge-based world order.

Urban theorist Richard Florida (2002) makes a compelling case that regional development in today's knowledge-based world economy is increasingly driven by factors that produce geographic concentrations of talented people who will then create and manage the technologies, services, industries, and artistic advancements of the future. Florida cites studies showing that such talent is attracted and sustained by civic environments that are stimulating, engaging, tolerant, culturally rich, and intellectually vibrant. He makes the significant assertion that "place is becoming the central organizing unit of our economy and society, taking on the role that used to be played by the large corporation" (Florida 2002, p. 224). Such a place does not have to be a big city, but it must possess those attributes that reinforce a quality of life, an interplay of culture and ideas, and a strong sense of regional identity and authenticity that remains powerfully involved with the world beyond. It is no mere happenstance that collegiate localities rank high among such places.

Florida also describes a world that is "spiky" at the same time it is flat (Florida 2008). In his formulation, the tallest spikes appear in a small number of localities that "have the capacity to attract global talent, generate new knowledge, and produce the lion's share of global innovation" (Florida 2008, p. 31). The next tallest spikes are in regions that mainly import innovation from elsewhere to produce goods and services and that are strategically oriented and institutionally equipped to ascend to higher peaks of global readiness. Most cities and regions, however, are not so lofty. Some might find the niches that give them a modicum of economic and civic vitality in the new global order, but most will struggle to achieve a sustainable niche, whether or not they aspire to one.

Common Cause

We return, then, to the common cause shared by communities and universities as they work to survive--and thrive--in today's hyper-competitive world. William Mitchell of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology declares that local governments will have to form "strong and effective alliances with major cultural and educational institutions, based on common interest in attracting and retaining intellectual and artistic talent" (Mitchell 2001, p. 145). In a plea for greater U.S. investment in human capital, Edward Glaeser of Harvard University cites the regional economic advantages of education, noting that high levels of regional education seem to increase the production of innovations and speed economic growth (Glaeser 2008). Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City asserts that "cities are increasingly becoming incubators of change and drivers of innovation" as a result of more local investment in education and training (Bloomberg 2007, p. 42). It is critical for universities and localities to act in concert to cultivate human capital tuned to the needs of the global 21st century. Such a relationship includes not only more robust strategies for educational attainment and work force development, but also offers a potential model for a more vibrant, inclusive civic life. Universities have long held to that ideal within the boundaries of their campuses. The 21st-century imperative is to engage their host communities in that ideal as well.

Universities and localities must together cultivate human capital for the global 21st century.

Universities have a practical self-interest in such alliances. As campus development costs increase and state and federal funding diminish, institutions must aggregate their development resources through collaborations with industry, other institutions, and regional economic development entities. Research universities, the engines of innovation and technology transfer necessary to transform economies, are increasingly relying on associations with businesses to underwrite research and license scientific discoveries. Localities frequently provide the policy support and infrastructure needed to locate those businesses near campuses.

Still, there are cautionary tales to tell about such relationships. Campus-related development can collide with neighborhood concerns about traffic, housing, affordability, displacement, and tax revenue lost to institutional uses. It can blur the ethical boundaries between institutional purpose and commercialism. Difficulties can arise because institutions and cities operate on different political cycles and are responsible to different stakeholders, and they are not always comparably nimble when the global arena demands new strategic responses. There are also significant economic disparities within many of the knowledge-based innovation clusters; for example, Silicon Valley, the Boston area, and North Carolina's Research Triangle are home to some of the nation's highest levels of inequality (Florida 2008). The spiky world can exacerbate socioeconomic differences within regions that are otherwise considered to be successful players in the knowledge-based economy. Certainly, in today's difficult economic environment, the financial ability of most colleges and cities to initiate such undertakings is limited--if not nonexistent--notwithstanding the other challenges described here. Still, campus-community collaboration should be a strategic goal for achieving global competitiveness and civic betterment; given the mutual interdependence of cities and the place-based institutions in their midst, this goal is more attainable if these issues are recognized and responded to as a fundamental prerequisite to the process of creating a campus-community alliance.

Creating the Global-Ready Campus Community

What does the global-ready campus community of the 21st century look like? One could legitimately claim that several U.S. cities are themselves global campuses on a grand scale. New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Washington are the five cities that typically attract the most international students to the United States. They house numerous colleges, universities, and other knowledge enterprises that are inextricably linked with their city's urban culture and global economy. San Francisco is at the heart of an inventive technological and creative economy spurred by the institutions of the Bay Area. The same is true for Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill in North Carolina, where the Research Triangle was purposely created as an act of public policy to foster economic development based on the higher education resources in their midst. One could find any number of localities around the United States where strategic initiatives have brought or are bringing the resources of institutions and communities together to create a new civic environment geared to the knowledge economy. Such resource aggregation has sometimes been historic happenstance more than concerted strategy, but the fortune of history no longer suffices.


This article concludes with three case studies that illustrate measurably different contexts for and methods of campus-oriented urban change. These case studies demonstrate how new conceptions of the civic realm can emerge when institutions and cities are linked in the quest to be globally competitive.

University Park at MIT: From Old to New Economy

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a forerunner among institutions whose entrepreneurial energies have helped to reshape the urban environment around its campus and the economic fortunes of its metropolitan region. MIT has long been known for scientific and technological discoveries that lead to real-world spin-off enterprises. The development of those enterprises, coupled with MIT-sponsored real-estate ventures to accommodate them, has gradually transformed the institution's Cambridge neighborhood from a blue-collar manufacturing enclave to a world center of technological research and development. This began in the 1960s, when MIT built Technology Square on surplus university property in the middle of a declining industrial area to house firms started by its faculty, including the Polaroid Corporation. Other private sector development followed once it was demonstrated that there was a market for such activities. A contemporary map of the MIT area reveals a "greater campus" (figure 2) that extends well beyond the institution's borders, encompassing corporate, nonprofit, and governmental research and development facilities; the U.S. research headquarters of several global biotechnology and Internet-based organizations; and a growing mix of residential and commercial support uses--the "aggregation" effect previously discussed.

The changes in the area around MIT are not the result of a comprehensive strategic initiative in concert with the city and state as much as they are an outcome of the university's real-estate activities and its considerable drawing power for new and established scientific and technological firms. The community's role in this case has been to temper and shape the impacts of development to fit the city fabric. Nowhere is that dynamic more revealing than in the development of University Park, MIT's largest and most recent real-estate endeavor.

In the 1970s, MIT acquired the 27-acre site of the then-vacated Simplex Wire and Cable Company west of campus with the intent to create a mixed-use urban district. The university retained a development firm, Forest City Enterprise of Cleveland, to undertake the project. The university's initial plans were met with dissent by the Cambridge community, which saw the project as too dense, generating too much traffic, and disregarding the local desire to maintain a diverse, affordable neighborhood. Only after years of public debate mediated by a special commission appointed by the city council was the plan reformulated to accommodate the respective interests of the city and the university. The original proposal for 3.5 million square feet of building area was decreased to 2.5 million feet, and height limits were set. The number of affordable and market-value housing units was increased. Numerous agreements were made having to do with traffic mitigation, infrastructure, and other public benefit programs.

By 2005, University Park was fully built out as an urban enclave of office, research, residential, and commercial uses, including a hotel and the first supermarket in the area in living memory. Construction coincided with a burst of biotechnology research growth by international firms in Cambridge, which accelerated the project's completion. The final piece of the development, a 250-unit residential complex built in lieu of more office space, was favorably received by the community. Although University Park evolved more as a result of community debate and negotiation than from a campus-community strategic initiative, it exemplifies the urban change from traditional manufacturing to knowledge-based enterprise driven by the global economic environment in which the city and the university must be able to compete. It represents a model for a new civic realm in which institutional, private, and public uses are so intermixed that there is no discernible boundary, and has produced 4,000 jobs of the sort that mostly did not exist when wires and cables were being spun on the site. How University Park matures as an enduring, vital part of the urban realm will be monitored by campus communities across the United States.

Penn Connects: Creating a New Urban Domain on the Schuylkill

In 2006, the University of Pennsylvania completed a campus master plan, which President Amy Gutmann titled "Penn Connects" to emphasize the goal of strengthening the linkages of the campus with Center City Philadelphia across the Schuylkill River and with other urban districts around the university. President Gutmann's preamble to the plan states that it is intended "to underscore our commitment to build ever-stronger connections to our region and our world" (Gutmann 2006, no page number). Penn's plan coincided with the city's strategy to restore the Schuylkill waterfront as an urban amenity and development setting as part of a larger regional initiative to make Philadelphia attractive to the "creative class" of educated workers who could undergird the city's place in the global economy.


The 2006 plan was preceded by a series of plans and initiatives in which Penn collaborated with the city and with neighboring institutions, organizations, and businesses in the renewal of the urban realm surrounding the university. President Gutmann's predecessor, Judith Rodin, presided over the West Philadelphia Initiatives in the late 1990s, under which the university invested in a multifaceted neighborhood revitalization program. Working with the city and local community groups, the university built a public elementary school and participated in neighborhood lighting, security patrols, and clean-up programs; urban nutrition initiatives; arts partnerships; and entrepreneurship training. The university also developed several blocks of land with new market-rate uses to energize neighborhood life, including a hotel, bookstore, grocery store, and restaurants.

In 2000, Penn participated with the U.S. Postal Service, Amtrak, Drexel University, the city, and other stakeholders in the preparation of the Schuylkill Gateway project. This project was spurred in part by the postal service's impending disposition of major buildings and land adjacent to the river, which created an opportunity to rethink how the river corridor could become the center and not the divider of an urban district linking West Philadelphia and Center City (figure 3). As a blueprint for mitigating old industrial and transportation scars along the riverbanks, the Schuylkill Gateway project also envisioned the development of high-density mixed-use buildings to house new high-technology businesses and urban residences along an enhanced shoreline.

The postal facility came back into play as the "Penn Connects" plan began to take shape. A primary thrust of the plan was the development of the university's east campus, consisting of river-edge property laced with the rail and highway corridors that have historically followed the river. Penn purchased the adjacent postal-service properties and designated the four-acre parking lot for campus playing fields and for mixed-use and cultural facilities. The post-office building has been leased by the university to the U.S. General Services Administration with its historic fagade and lobby preserved, and adjacent former postal facilities will be redeveloped and leased for office, retail, hotel, and residential use. The new development, built to the elevated street level of the Walnut Street Bridge, brings the university area's commercial district to the river's edge and closes the gap between the university and the redevelopment proposed for the east bank by the Schuylkill River Development Corporation. New footbridges will enhance connections across the river.

Penn's role in redefining the civic framework of West Philadelphia and the Schuylkill corridor has been continuous for more than a decade, beginning with needed measures to improve security in a declining neighborhood, expanding to proactive investment in neighborhood revitalization, and evolving to become a key partner in a regional strategy to secure Philadelphia's position in the post-industrial economy. The university's urban mission reflects its extraordinary level of leadership in concert with the city's civic vision.

The University of South Carolina and the Innovista Master Plan: Civic Restoration for the 21st Century

As the state capital and seat of its flagship university, Columbia, South Carolina occupies a strategic place in the state's widely noted policy of cultivating capital investment by global enterprises. The state and the University of South Carolina together promote technology transfer and job creation based on the university's wide-ranging research activities. As a way to physically guide the desired economic development, the city, the university, and other land owners have committed to an "urban renaissance," which is manifested in an extensive new civic framework that builds on Columbia's historic heritage as one of the United States' first planned cities. The 500-acre Innovista Master Plan for Columbia reclaims the classic street and block grid of the 1786 city plan in an area between the State House and the university campus to the east and the Congaree River to the west. This area had declined into a patchwork of unused sites, low-rise industrial and warehouse buildings, and parking lots. Many of the 19th-century textile mills that relied on river access have been demolished, although some have remained as valuable resources for adaptive reuse and redevelopment.

While the historic street grid is faithfully interpreted in the Innovista plan, the plan also includes features conceived to make Columbia a vibrant, human-scaled 21st-century city (figure 4). A proposed Innovation District consisting of campus, governmental, and private-sector research uses will extend several blocks to the west of the university's historic "Horseshoe" space; the university and the state have already constructed new research, academic, and support space in this area. A new public space called Foundation Square will provide the civic setting for the Colonial Center, a new 18,000-seat arena. The square will eventually be flanked by urban retail, restaurant, cultural, lodging, and office uses. A mixed-use (but predominantly residential) area stepping up from two to seven stories will be built west of Foundation Square to the bluff overlooking the Congaree River. A significant feature of the plan is the creation of the Congaree Regional Waterfront Park on the river's edge as the western civic anchor of the axis that begins at the campus. The park will descend some 150 feet from the top of the bluff in a series of terraced gardens culminating at the river plain where a major public amphitheater and a restored lagoon are envisioned. The park will be the nexus of a 12-mile trail system paralleling the Congaree and tributary rivers.


The Innovista plan includes a thoughtfully crafted program of public, private, and institutional investment and development mechanisms to support its implementation. Public funds will be invested in the construction of the waterfront park, Foundation Square, streets, and utility connections with the established campus and city core to the east. A major landowner, Guinard Associates (whose owners are descendents of John Guinard, who prepared the 1786 town plan), is poised to provide a substantial amount of land for the park, as well as for other redevelopment. If built as proposed, Innovista would represent one of the most significant urban transformations in the United States, involving city, state, private sector, and university collaboration to make a global-ready community.


These divergent examples demonstrate how much universities and their host communities need one another when either or both aspire to create a global-ready civic setting. When King Philip II of France issued a diploma for the security of scholars of Paris in 1200, he could not have imagined that he was setting up a public-private partnership that would wed the fortunes of the Sorbonne and Paris for the next eight centuries, a civic relationship presaging the aspirations of universities and cities in the global 21st century.

Universities and their communities need one another to create a global-ready civic setting.


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M. Perry Chapman is a principal with Sasaki Associates, Inc., in Watertown, Massachusetts. He was the recipient of the 2008 SCUP Founders' (Casey) Award. He is the author of American Places: In Search of the Twenty-first Century Campus (2006).
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