The Right to the City and to the University: Forging Solidarity Beyond the Town/Gown Divide


  • Barbara Ferman
  • Miriam Greenberg
  • Thao Le
  • Steven C. McKay



Over the last fifty years, institutions of higher education have served as anchor institutions in  cities’ broader neoliberal efforts to generate new economic sectors, attract the creative class, and  build amenities that stimulate market-oriented redevelopment. These activities, combined with  universities’ own neoliberal restructuring, including diminishing housing support for students  and staff, have contributed to gentrification and displacement in neighborhoods surrounding  universities, creating the context for interrelated struggles for the right to the city and the right to  the university. Using Temple University in Philadelphia, and University of California Santa Cruz  as case studies we examine how students, faculty, and other university actors are joining with  organizations and movements in surrounding communities to resist restructuring and  displacement. In doing so, these emerging coalitions are transcending the more divisive  town/gown narrative, forging new solidarities that are reimagining more just and equitable  futures for both the city and the university.