Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

COMMUNITY COLLEGES: Partners in Community Development

Academic journal article Planning for Higher Education

COMMUNITY COLLEGES: Partners in Community Development

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. While much of the society remained illiterate, those who were expected to lead and work in the professions of the society were educated and trained to do so.

The 12th century brought about the concept of a university. In Western Europe, specifically Paris and Bologna, groups of educated men gathered to form a "university" designed to teach young males. The term university comes from the Latin word universitas meaning corporation or guild. …

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