The History and Future of Town and Gown: Historical Conflicts that Shape Modern Understanding of the Collegetown
The interactions between universities and local communities have a long history dating back to the early Middle Ages. These interactions are often referred to as town and gown relations. Misunderstandings between the parties can be traced to historical developments and a lack of understanding of the implications these developments have for the twenty first century collegetown. This misunderstanding in "town thought" and "gown thought" can be described as a clash of different interests between people who share a geographical place. This research traces the socio-cultural historical relationship between universities and the towns in which they reside. Beginning with an historical overview, this paper investigates the quality of the town and gown relationships within a historical context. The overriding research questions addressed in this study are: What is the impact of history on the quality of current town-gown relationships? and, How do the two scholarly communities, local citizens and corporate interests work together to forge alliances in the areas of communication, norms or reciprocity, student impact and future social and economic development in collegetowns?
Keywords: Town and Gown, University History, Scholarly Communities, University Relationships, Collegetown
Dr. DeMond S. Miller
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Liberal Arts and Sciences Institute, Rowan University
Jason D. Rivera
Research Assistant, Liberal Arts and Sciences Institute, Rowan University