Sustaining Liberal Arts Colleges Through Community Partnerships and the Co-Production of Knowledge


  • Jerusha Detweiler-Bedell Lewis & Clark College
  • Wim Wiewel Lewis & Clark College


explorare, discere, sociare


There was a time when universities located in cities set themselves apart from urban life, even, in some cases, building walls that isolated their campuses. As the Cold War and Space Race accelerated the demand for academic expertise, government funding for basic and applied research became a mainstay of higher education. With the end of the Cold War, many institutions turned to a greater concern with addressing domestic societal needs. As state funding began its steady and continuing decline, urban universities developed programs to demonstrate the value they add to cities and metropolitan regions, and public-private partnerships took root. Liberal arts colleges are now being challenged to demonstrate their relevance and value. Their future is in part predicated on their success in building stronger, more strategic, and mutually beneficial relationships beyond their campus, specifically by collaborating with and adding value to the cities and metropolitan areas in which they are located. A movement that started in public universities should now be adopted more widely by liberal arts colleges.

Author Biographies

Jerusha Detweiler-Bedell, Lewis & Clark College

professor of psychology and director of the Teaching Excellence Program

Wim Wiewel, Lewis & Clark College



Diner, S.J. 2017. “How Universities Migrated into Cities and Democratized Higher Education.”

Wiewel, W. Gaffikin, F. Morrissey, M. 2000. “Community-University Partnerships for Affordable Housing.” Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research.

Volume 5, Number 1. 30-31.

Wiewel, W. Kecskes, K. Martin, S. 2011. “Portland State’s Second (R)evolution: Partnering to Anchor the Institution in Sustainable Communities. Metropolitan Universities: An International Forum. Volume 22, Number 2. 8.

Wiewel, W. Lieber, M. 1998. “Goal Achievement, Relationship Building, and Incrementalism: The Challenges of University-Community Partnerships.” Journal of Planning Education and Research, 17:291-301.

Wiewel, W. 2019. “Your City Is More Than a Place to Call Home.”