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Higher education and America stand at a perilous moment brought about by economic and social inequality, racism, and the fracture of civic cohesion and structures.
From its origins, the mission of American higher education was to promote democratic governance and a free, fair, and orderly society through the education of responsible citizens. Just as its mission has become more urgent, it is being undermined as colleges and universities find themselves trapped in a fiscal crisis that threatens their very institutional viability--a crisis in large part brought about by the very perpetuation of economic and racial inequity, and the consequent erosion of consensus about civic purpose and vision.
This book argues that higher education can and must again take leadership in promoting the participatory processes and instilling the democratic values needed to build a vibrant and fair society. How to do that when, as Guarasci argues, a majority of colleges and universities are floundering under a business model that generates insufficient net revenue while making college unaffordable?
Guarasci offers a model of civic mission and engagement whereby, through relatively modest investment, colleges can develop reciprocal partnerships with local institutions, civic, and business groups to raise the quality and outcomes of K-12 education, promote local entrepreneurship and community involvement, raise incomes, and increase the attainment of postsecondary education to benefit the wider national economy and colleges around the region and country. He demonstrates how civic engagement can revitalize communities and generate developmental and foundation funding.
Vividly illustrated by the examples of success of students from the shadow community to which Wagner College committed its energies and resources, by the stories of the local schools and their principals, and the voices of local partners, this book offers a compelling and detailed account of what it takes to transform an institution and a neighborhood--and a model of renewal.