Urban Regions as Educational Laboratories

  • Carolyn Teich Adams Temple University
Keywords: Metropolitan Universities, Urban Laboratory, Urban Influence


Widespread use of the term urban laboratory as a metaphor for the relationship between the metropolitan university and its surrounding communities has led to overemphasizing the university's impact on its surroundings and undervaluing the impact that urban settings may have upon the university as an institution. This paper focuses on one potential impact of metropolitan settings: their influence on curriculum, particularly on undergraduate general education. The author argues that learning from the city through field experiences and assignments of various kinds can contribute significantly to reforming the general education component of the curriculum, a component that has received pointed criticism during the 1980s. Specifically, the author shows the capacity of field studies to promote greater examination of values, greater intellectual integration among the disciplines, more critical thinking, and more collaborative work styles among undergraduates.