Postmetropolitan University

Read in De Omslag of 2015:

Christoph Lindner is professor of Media and Culture at the University of Amsterdam. He wrote an article on ‘Six Discourses on the Postmetropolitan University’. Because I just finished a masterclass on New York City and its universities I read his article with more than just fraternal inter What is a postmetropolitan university? According to Lindner it is a university that fits in the postmetropolitan era, which is an era of intensified globalization and urbanization processes: a so-called neoliberal epoch. His six discourses are: the Disembodied Campus, the Global Campus, the Speculative Campus, the Creative Campus, the Fortress Campus, and the Corporate Campus. None of these is favorable. Just like cities, he thinks that all universities will become corporate enterprises. They are entrepreneurial already. “The overarching trend that connects all of the campus formations outlined above is the neoliberal corporatization of the university and, as part of this process, its de-democratization, precarization, and (for public institutions) privatization. Universities of the immediate future, like the cities they inhabit, are likely to be more corporate, not less corporate.” He thinks a discussion on the value system is needed.

That’s exactly what we discussed in the masterclass. In New York we studied the universities of  Columbia, Cornell-Tech and CUNY, their plans for the future, their campusses, and their business models. We related all the information to the city,  to its plans for the future and its policy towards higher education. We visited New York and spoke to many stakeholders, civil servants and professors at the universities. The eighteen participants – all professionals working for cities or universities in the Netherlands – made proposals for each of these three universities. The team on Columbia University developed a concept for a university that is profitable in terms of city building and gentrification, without a negative impact on the neighborhood (West-Harlem). The second team on Cornell-Tech developed a concept for a university that fosters innovation, as a component of a true urban innovation ecosystem (Queens). The third, studying CUNY, developed a concept for a decentralized university that taps on local talent, trying to emancipate young people in the back streets of its city-region. Sure, we heard some neoliberal newspeak, but at the same time we found many opportunities to maximize the profits and enhance positive outcomes of new campus building. Instead of criticizing, we tried to develop new models that will help cities to thrive. For cities, universities and colleges are key!


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