Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Community Colleges Partners in Community Development: Approaches to Developing Our Regions

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

Community Colleges Partners in Community Development: Approaches to Developing Our Regions

Article excerpt

Introduction                                        2 Higher Education                                    3    Foundations of Higher Education                  3    History of Community Colleges                    5 Community and Economic Development                  8    Defining Community and Economic Development      8    Livable Communities                             10 Role of Higher Education in Development            11    Contributions of Higher Education               11    Community College Role                          15 Community Colleges: Beyond Workforce               17 Development                                        17    Embracing Innovation                            17    Creating a College Town                         19    Entrepreneurship, Business Incubation    and Small Business Development                  20    Research Partnerships                           25    Leading Livable Communities                     27    Buying Locally                                  28    Non-Local and International Students            30 Conclusion                                         32 References                                         34 


Community colleges have clearly arrived on the political agenda. From the White House, to Governors' Offices, to local legislatures, discussions regarding community colleges and their role in economic development are taking place with a seriousness unlike anytime in history since the Truman Commission. Much of the conversation about the role of community colleges in economic development focuses, almost exclusively, on workforce development and training. To be sure, these are important components of the community college mission and a critical factor in economic development.

However, should workforce development serve as the total conversation for community colleges and economic development? Many articles and papers have been written and hundreds of discussions have taken place about the value of higher education with regard to its contribution to economic development through a variety of efforts. These efforts include research, purchasing, education and numerous other factors that keep local communities that host colleges and universities hopeful for the future. Indeed, higher education institutions contribute to local economies in many ways.

The purpose of this paper is to briefly discuss the history of higher education and explore the ways in which higher education institutions from all sectors have contributed to economic and community development. Then, to discuss specifically how community colleges affect local economies and identify potential contributions beyond their current efforts in workforce development with an emphasis on the following questions: Are community colleges already doing more for their communities than is typically recognized? What other contributions to community development could community colleges make? Recommendations for expanding community college activities will be suggested.

Higher Education

Foundations of Higher Education

One could argue that higher education is founded in a mission of economic development. From the early beginnings of society, formal structures of education arose to provide selected youth (usually the wealthy and elite) with the necessary knowledge and skills to fulfill their roles as leaders of the society. In Greek and Roman cultures, boys from wealthy families were instructed by teachers in a variety of settings using a number of techniques. Socrates and Plato are probably the most well-known teachers of that time and taught, mostly, through oral instruction in small groups.

As societies grew and evolved, so did their approach to education. Many young children were schooled at home by their parents or in small groups with a single teacher for their entire educational experience. Formal education was limited and primarily afforded to the wealthy. …

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