Edited by Jean L. Pyle and Robert Forrant
Chapter 11: Building Bridges: Sustainable Development, Interdisciplinary Programs and the University
11. Building bridges: sustainable development, interdisciplinary programs and the university Nancy Kleniewski and John Wooding I. INTRODUCTION Universities have traditionally provided innovation through research that allows for diﬀusion of new forms of knowledge, technology and organization to the communities and regions in which they are located. As we analyse how institutions of higher education can contribute to the process of sustainable development of their regions, however, it becomes apparent that innovation is necessary within the university itself as well as in contributions made to industry and the economy. Can academic institutions do more to help their regions and communities develop in a sustainable and healthy way? One of the themes of this volume is that sustainable development requires innovation and that universities can contribute greatly to the process. (See Pyle and Forrant, Chapter 1, this volume) In an eﬀort to answer this question, this chapter will address the context within which a number of universities (and the University of Massachusetts Lowell in particular) have chosen to engage with their surrounding communities and the resulting pressures for innovation within the universities themselves. The central goal of a university remains the education of its students. Increasingly, however, the complex nature of changing student demographics, demands for new and rapidly changing skills and knowledge, and the need to engage the university in the application of its resources to real-world problems poses a new imperative. This is true for all universities in the US, but is especially relevant for public institutions. The...
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