Heard in New York City on Wednesday 21 October 2015:

Sharon Zukin, professor on urban sociology at the City University of New York (CUNY), was our guest on the morning of 21 October 2015. She told us about CUNY, how this local university of some 500.000 students was structured, who owned it (public, the state, not the city), why its focus was on education, and less on research, who paid for it, why it was problematic to speak about this ‘Harvard for the poor’ with pride at this very moment (because of the unrest amongst the professors, fearing new budget cuts), what its future might be, and how CUNY is related to the so-called ‘new economy’ of New York: the one of the growing tech scene, the startups, the bootcamps, the fintech, the medtech, the anytech jobs. She was researching this new economy, which she still didn’t fully grasped. According to the many people she had interviewed it is still ‘inchoate’, that means: not developed yet, just begun, lacking order. We listened to her for more than one and a half hour in a small room at the Graduate Center of CUNY at Fifth Avenue. Welcome to the masterclass NYC on cities and its universities, an initiative of the city of Amsterdam.

Mrs. Zukin showed us the new website of ‘Digital New York City’: For her research, she told us, it was an excellent source. It gave all the information on startups, events, jobs, investors, courses, workspaces, incubators, a great map, all this news on the new economy in New York assembled on just one website. She could not tell whether any city in the world is giving this information real time. The website was initiated by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), or was it IBM that not only sponsored it, but also had come up with the proposal? We had to admit, this is a city that is strategically focussing on the new economy, and doing very well. Of course, New York had to, in a way. After the financial crisis of 2008, the city understood that being too dependent on the financial sector is very risky. The city should diversify its economy, adding a bit of Silicon Valley to its already diverse economic ecosystem. Or was it even more urgent? The whole economy, the mayor had told his staff, will become digitalized the next ten or twenty years. The city should wake up. So what about CUNY then? And Amsterdam?






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