Equity and the Urban University: Introduction to the Chicago Conference Issue
Keywords:equity, social justice, urban education
This 2018 CUMU Annual Conference issue of Metropolitan Universities journal (MUJ) highlights efforts by universities and scholars seeking to engage directly with issues of equity in cities. Reflecting on the conference theme, Partnering for Equity, the City of Chicago offered arguably one of the most sobering and rich contexts for discussing the role of higher education in promoting equity. A 2017 study found the cost of lost income to Chicago’s regional economy due to racial segregation exceeded $4 billion (Urban Institute, 2017, pg. IX). This same study noted an estimated 83,000 college degrees never attained because of racial segregation (Urban Institute, 2017, pg. 40). Chicago, like many urban areas, presents the most pressing opportunities and challenges for uncovering and addressing issues of equity.
As reflected in the conference presentations and speeches, one of the most important changes in higher education is the growing recognition that social change begins on and around the campus. Paulo Freire posited this view nearly 40 years ago in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, naming education a political act. To fully realize this transformative power of higher education, universities must partner across institutions and sectors to reveal and address critical issues of equity. This is the focus of the work shared at the 2018 CUMU Annual Conference.