The City, Land, and The University
The City, Land, and The University Program considers university real estate development from the perspective of a variety of actors, including the university, the abutting neighborhood, and the city itself. In many cities, university real estate activities are important in a number of ways. They can be important simply as a real estate deal; they can provide a window through which to view and analyze specific land polices; and they can be important within the context of the local land and property market. Combining a number of different activities and initiatives together within this larger project is an experiment. We are interested in finding out if by linking this variety of activities, efforts, and research questions each individual part might gain some benefit. The current project is the result of a number of small steps over the years.
University engagement in the city is of great interest at this time. We bring a unique emphasis to our work. Specifically, we put the role of land and land development at the center of the university-city relationship. We do not argue that land is the only lens through which to understand these relationships. Other aspects of the city-university relationship are non-trivial.
However, we believe that these discussions will be enhanced if the role that land, land economics, and land development plays in these initiatives.
Universities are a part of a small set of core institutions that have shaped Western society since their emergence as distinctive entities in early modern times. While not a general rule - US land grant universities are obvious exceptions - universities have traditionally been located in cities. This was certainly true of the original European universities that were situated in cities. Nineteenth century governments established a national university in their capital cities and large individual cities sought to establish their own universities as part of their efforts to achieve fame, glory and progress (Van Der Wusten, 1998). In the United States particularly, universities were early established not only in, but also outside cities. The campus on a green field site was introduced there. As universities and cities expanded, the location of universities and parts of universities has become a recurrent theme in the relations between university administrations and the local governments on whose territories they find themselves (Bender 1998, Goddard, 1994).
While US universities flourished in the late 20th century, urban restructuring and the attendant shifts in economic activity, new immigrants, and cutbacks in welfare state provisions left cities in an ailing state. The absence of strong civic leadership together with accelerating external and internal pressures forced universities to recognize reluctantly that they must (and could) function as institutions simultaneously engaged in the advancement of universal knowledge and the improvement of local well being. Thus "university of the city" (Bender 1998; Cisneros 1995) with a "land grant mission" (McDowell 2001; Crooks 1982) serving as an "engaged" institution (Kellogg Commission 1999; Harkavy and Puckett 1994; Maurrasse 2001) with "urban goals" (Klotsche 1966; Nash 1973; U.S. Congress House Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs 1992; U.S. Congress House Committee on Education and Labor 1979; Grobman 1988) became a recurring theme of academic leadership and literature, especially in the late twentieth century (Perry, forthcoming).
The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy launched its "The City, Land and The University Program" five years ago. The Institute wanted to increase its focus on cities. Lack of significant leadership from the public sector in the rebuilding of most depressed urban areas, along with the long-term abandonment by private investors, led us to consider alternative urban institutions for leadership in this area. Universities perform multiple activities that affect their surroundings to varying degrees with processes and outcomes that can, at times, be highly contested. The impacts of these activities often differ in their geographical scope, affecting areas as immediate as the surrounding neighborhood or city to areas more remote like entire regions and the nation as a whole.
More importantly, our goal is to integrate theory and practice in the creation of land policy. Large urban landowners with a significant stake in cities' futures are an obvious focus for our attention. The Program focuses on the role and the implications of the university as a large urban landowner and an enduring component of the urban economy. This role of the university as a large urban landowner has remained essentially unexplored, even though the political, economic, intellectual and ethical elements that make up its challenges and opportunities comprise one of the university's most important areas of urban institutional practice.
The City, Land and The University Program began as one of a kind, pioneering thought and discussion on the role and responsibilities of universities as urban landowners. Over the years, the Program has taken shape through a series of workshops and publications. With a definite focus on action-oriented research and interactive workshops, the Program, today, has successfully created a "learning community" pulling together an audience from diverse fields including academics, university-based decision makers, planning practitioners and community-based organizations.