Today’s Conversation article explains the Amazon pullout from NYC shows the perils of partnerships between higher education and business. IRIS’s Executive Director Jason Owen-Smith’s argues that “universities are a special kind of “anchor tenant” for their regions. They make good anchors because they are relatively open, committed to their places, and unlikely to go out of business. Their broad research and teaching allows them to engage with many different interest groups. That, in turn, helps make their communities more resilient and innovative.” But “when colleges and universities rush to make sure that Amazon – or any other company – has what it needs, they run the risk of damaging the very things that make them unique and valuable to their communities in the long term.” Owen-Smith explains that a narrow focus focussing on business partner adversely effect the direction of research and teaching. Also, things change and companies often abandon their plans and commitments. Owen-Smith argues “The bottom line is that when colleges and universities focus on a single business or industry’s needs they run serious risks.”
For further information, check out Jason Owen-Smith’s recent book Research Universities and the Public Good.