Study: Universities Boost Democratic Ideas (and Innovation in Transportation)

BreakShuttle is part of the university transportation team at Wells + Associates, a 25+ year-old transportation consulting and services firm.

One reason we love working with universities on transportation topics is that universities tend to be very keen to integrate innovative transportation ideas on campus and within their communities.

This is something we see regularly: a desire to improve pedestrian and bicycling options, integrate transit into campus life and the surrounding community, and create new ways to approach parking – moving away from the days when cars seemed to rule every decision. These are just some of the transportation developments on modern university campuses.

But, as CityLab recently reported, a new study by economists at the London School of Economics explains the role that universities play in economic development.

The study reports that “[d]oubling the number of universities per capita is associated with over 4% GDP growth.” The numbers appear to show that universities help create demand for goods and services, add to the supply of productive, educated people in the economy, and generate innovations via entrepreneurs and innovators.

What was particularly interesting to us is that universities “help to strengthen and reinforce democratic ideals and values.” As CityLab pointed out:

It is not simply by educating people or generating new innovations that universities contribute to our society, but by helping to instill a culture of tolerance, collegiality, and open-mindedness. 

This collegiality and open-mindedness are two reasons we love working with colleges to make transportation work better for everyone in their university community.

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