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Why ‘Everything Now’ Will Inspire IHE Readers to Learn More about L.A.

A city-state of extremes.

August 8, 2021

Everything Now: Lessons from the City-State of Los Angeles by Rosecrans Baldwin

Published in June of 2021.

If it is true that trends in the U.S. move from West to East, then it probably makes sense to pay attention to what is going on in Los Angeles.

Novelist Rosecrans Baldwin describes L.A. as a place of extremes. Wealth and opportunity may be stratified throughout the U.S., but privilege and despair are most concentrated in L.A.

The city-state (as Rosecrans describes the 10 million person Los Angeles county) contains over 63,000 people experiencing homelessness, second only to NYC. Among the fast-growing ranks of the homeless in L.A. are rideshare drivers who can't afford the county's exorbitant rents and who are increasingly resorting to sleeping in their cars.

In L.A., one also glimpses the environmental impact of climate change-induced extreme weather. The descriptions in Everything Now of the experiences of those L.A. residents who lived through the mudslides and wildfires of the last few years are unforgettable.

Not all the L.A. extremes chronicled in Everything Now are negative. Within the L.A. Unified school district (the country's second-largest with 714,000 students), 95 languages are spoken. All of those languages are an indicator of L.A.s incredible cultural diversity.

In Everything Now, Rosecrans describes a Los Angeles government ill-prepared and ill-equipped to deal with the economic and climate extremes of the 21st century. The warning of L.A. is that these extremes will begin to migrate at an accelerated pace to the rest of the country.

The L.A. story of insecure and unaffordable housing for the many, paired with indescribable luxurious homes for the few (see Netflix's Selling Sunset), are the likely futures for the rest of us.

We may all not need to worry about L.A.-style mudslides, but without some significant societal level changes, all of us will face the consequences of extreme weather in the years to come.

Learning about L.A. from Everything Now had me wondering about the Los Angeles higher ed scene.

Relative to the size of L.A.s college student population, the city-state looms disproportionately small in our collective higher ed mind.

According to a 2016 article by Richard Florida, the L.A. metro area contains the nation's second-largest number of college students (974,000), closely following New York (just over a million). The Boston metro area only has about 350,000 college students. But for some reason, when most of us think about higher education, we will conjure up Boston before L.A.

The L.A. area contains some prominent universities and small colleges that I know something about, such as USC (44,000 students), UCLA (44,000 students), and Pepperdine (7,800 students), Harvey Mudd College (842 students).

L.A. also has some big schools that I know little about - but would like to learn more about - such as Azusa Pacific University (10,000 students), Cal State Polytech Pomona (25,000 students), Cal State Dominguez Hills (14,700 students), Cal State Long Beach (37,700 students), Cal State LA (27,800 students), Cal State Northridge (39,900 students), and Loyal Marymount University (9,300 students),

*Note: All enrollment numbers are from the online Los Angeles Almanac.

In the demographic diversity of L.A.'s colleges and universities (UCLA 22.5 percent Latinx, and Cal State Long Beach is 43 percent Latinx), we can see the future of American higher education.

How the colleges and universities deal with the economic, social, demographic, and environmental extremes of Los Angeles will teach the rest of us how to prepare for our inevitable academic futures.

While not about higher education, Everything Now should inspire IHE readers to learn more about L.A.

What are you reading?

source: LA Almanac

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Joshua Kim

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