Across America, universities have become big businesses—and our cities their company towns. But there is a cost to those who live in their shadow.
Urban universities play an outsized role in America’s cities. They bring diverse ideas and people together and they generate new innovations. But they also gentrify neighborhoods and exacerbate housing inequality in an effort to enrich their campuses and attract students. They maintain private police forces that target the Black and Latinx neighborhoods nearby. They become the primary employers, dictating labor practices and suppressing wages.
In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower takes readers from Hartford to Chicago and from Phoenix to Manhattan, revealing the increasingly parasitic relationship between universities and our cities. Through eye-opening conversations with city leaders, low-wage workers tending to students’ needs, and local activists fighting encroachment, scholar Davarian L. Baldwin makes clear who benefits from unchecked university power—and who is made vulnerable.
In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower is a wake-up call to the reality that higher education is no longer the ubiquitous public good it was once thought to be. But as Baldwin shows, there is an alternative vision for urban life, one that necessitates a more equitable relationship between our cities and our universities.
Davarian L. Baldwin is a leading urbanist, historian, and cultural critic. The Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies and founding director of the Smart Cities Lab at Trinity College, Baldwin is the author of Chicago’s New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life (UNC, 2007) and co-editor, with Minkah Makalani, of the essay collection Escape From New York! The New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem (Minnesota, 2013). He has received grants and fellowships from Harvard University, the University of Virginia, the University of Notre Dame, and the Logan Nonfiction Writing Fellowship from the Carey Institute for the Global Good. He lives with his wife and children in Springfield, Massachusetts.