Higher Ed and Economic Development: Not Just R&D

When many folks talk about the role of higher education in economic development, they focus almost exclusively on research universities and technology commercialization.  The message to communities is:  if you’re not the host of a big research university, you’re out of luck.  As someone who spent about 10 years at a non-research state college involved in economic development, I can tell you that is just not true.  The Chronicle of Higher Education recently featured some work at West Virginia University that proves the point:   students and faculty in the school’s journalism department helped local newspapers develop mobile applications.

Since the fall of 2008, the university’s Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism has taken a hands-on approach to helping over a dozen local papers make the digital leap. The project, called West Virginia Uncovered, provides papers with student-produced multimedia packages, digital training from faculty, and a mobile-app platform. While it’s common for schools to set up internships for their students at local papers, Uncovered students take the ordinary apprenticeship a step further by creating content that traditional print staffs wouldn’t ordinarily produce and help draw in readers and advertisers that have migrated online.

Not as sexy as founding the next Hewlett Packard, but an important job-saving and job-creating contribution to local economies that can be a model for others.  The full story is here.

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