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Can colleges create prosperous communities?

December 8, 2017

Colleges and universities, increasingly, are being viewed as engines of economic growth – and therefore measured against their ability to fulfil that role. The trend is intimately bound up with the shift, in most developed nations, toward a knowledge-based economy. Can colleges and universities provide a positive impact on our economy? Or are they overselling their economic impact and should they be doing a better job of working with their communities to better support both their local and wider global economy?

In the latest report from SAGE Business Researcher, The Knowledge Economy, New York journalist Barbara Mantel examines these questions and other issues raised by economists, leaders of higher education institutions, policy makers, and local residents. Collectively they debate whether:

  • Cities should rely on universities to help them compete in the global marketplace?
  • Universities should strive to commercialize their research?
  • Universities can and should try to solve their communities’ problems?

Looking at the future funding challenges for colleges and universities and a flat pipeline of matriculating students, Mantel suggests that their economic impact is dependent not only on how the economy moves, but also on the political will of policy makers to reinvest in higher education.

The Knowledge Economy, published in SAGE Business Researcher, is one of its biweekly reports. The full report can be read here.


Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE is a leading international provider of innovative, high-quality content publishing more than 1,000 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. Our growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company’s continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne. 

Barbara Mantel is a freelance writer in New York City. She has been a Kiplinger Fellow and has won several journalism awards, including the National Press Club’s Best Consumer Journalism Award and The Newswomen’s Club of New York Front Page Award. She was a correspondent for NPR and the founding senior editor and producer for public radio’s “Science Friday.” She holds a B.A. in history and economics from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in economics from Northwestern University.

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