Boston has long held a firm position as the most sought-after place for graduating high school seniors to attend college. Between Harvard and MIT, some of the brightest and creative minds are coming out of the programs offered at these institutions. Even though the city itself is rather small in comparison to other big cities, it has been able to adapt to the changing economic environment.
However, according to the article “Boston is the nation’s college capital. Here’s how to keep it that way,” Boston’s contribution to regional intellectual capital is under threat by other institution epicenters such as Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. To maintain its position, real changes will need to be considered. Here are just some of the changes recommended by the article’s authors, Brian C. Mitchell and W. Joseph King.
Mitchell and King argue that Harvard and MIT alone cannot attract large corporations such as Amazon to Boston. They propose that the city could benefit more from the kind of collaboration as seen with the Fenway consortium, which includes five different colleges working together to develop new ideas and keep college cost efficient. Through a collaboration of private and public institutions in the region, it can work together to “shape public policy and economic development.”
The Importance of Liberal Arts
The article makes an interesting point about the liberal arts. In this economic climate, schools of late have put an emphasis on job placement. However, simply shifting focus to be more like a trade school is not the right response in their opinion. Although trade schools provide real value, liberal arts trains individuals in writing, speaking, applying qualitative methods, and how to use technology all the while working in a highly collaborative setting. The next generation’s workforce, which will include engineers, will be starved for nontechnical skills. This is why schools should double down on liberal arts rather than abandoning it all together.
Managing Institutions More Effectively
One of the most interesting insights put forth by the authors is how colleges are run. There is a gap between how colleges are run and what they are providing. Many institutions are run “more like mom and pop shops than sophisticated purveyors of valuable knowledge workers.” These colleges and their board of trustees have failed to address “broad questions about responsible budgeting and stewardship facing today’s colleges.” Mitchell and King suggest that the faculty of these institutions need to play a more active role in governance for the purpose of facilitating innovation in teaching and research.
What Is at Stake
The conclusion of Mitchell and King’s article points to the fact that this current age of easy times for colleges is drawing to an end. As such, Boston must adapt quickly if it wants to hang on to its seat as a powerhouse in the global economy. To do this, it must leverage the rich history of Harvard and MIT, as well as the other regional institutions so it can develop a robust economic policy across higher education.
To read the original article, you can follow the link here.