Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Are Bigger Universities Better?


Socrates believed that the only resources needed to learn were a sharp mind and the ability to ask the right questions. 

But that’s not the case in today’s universities, where expensive lab equipment, grant funding, smart people swapping ideas over burritos, and armies of research assistants are all needed to advance the world’s pool of knowledge.

When people discuss the trade-offs between large research universities and small liberal arts colleges, they generally take their size as given. But if we tried to find the “right” size for a university, what would it be?

Let’s start by looking at how cities change as they grow. New streams of research on urban environments have found that their growth follows predictable patterns and that they become more efficient as they grow. An article from The Economist summarizes the research:

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