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Baltimore’s colleges ponder how they can help fix a broken city

Chronicle of Higher Education
April 29, 2015

The rioting, looting, arson, and vandalism that happened here this week might have horrified people across the country, watching it unfold on 24-hour news channels and Facebook feeds. But no one in this city should have been surprised. Much of Baltimore has long been a tinderbox of crushing poverty, pervasive violence, racism, and stark socioeconomic divides. It was only a matter of time.

For the dozen or so colleges that occupy Baltimore, the city has been a laboratory, a challenge, a stigma. The unrest of the past few days — spurred by the death of a black man who was severely injured while in police custody — is leading some of the city’s colleges and scholars to ask new questions about their role here.

Raymond A. Winbush, director of the Institute for Urban Studies at Morgan State University, took part in a march downtown on Saturday, one that turned violent before the end of the night.

... The Johns Hopkins University has been working in urban studies and urban renewal for years, he pointed out, and students at the Maryland Institute College of Art have engaged the city through art and quirky businesses, like a radical-left restaurant-bookstore on North Avenue.