Sharon Haar


On her book The City As Campus: Urbanism and Higher Education in Chicago

Cover Interview of October 04, 2011


In the end, The City as Campus is concerned with the situation of higher education, how its missions of service, teaching, and research have transformed over time as it has responded locally to its place in an increasingly urbanized, globalized community.

Today the goals of campus design and urban design have begun to merge, often to one another’s benefit. However, as the university proliferates it can create patterns of urban growth that without careful planning and control can be inimical to the character of the cities in which they are situated.

In the book’s conclusion I look at the broader situation of higher education within both physical and virtual space. Bill Readings’s call to understand the scene of teaching as a “network of obligations” can be extended to the relationship between the institution and its host.

Higher education continues to transform in the twenty-first century, discovering new purposes, forms, student populations, and meanings, even as we come to recognize the increasingly non-situatedness of the academic community. If on the one hand, as Arjun Appadurai, Manuel Castells and others note, “ideas and ideologies, people and goods, images and messages, technology and techniques” move in a “space of flows,” at the same time, according to Saskia Sassen, the ability of a city to remain or become central rather than marginalized in this global network requires it to be a site of “production and innovation.”

As American universities expand their global footprint, the way they understand the campus as the embodiment of the institutional mission will become increasingly important.