This article was originally published on Common Edge.
In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic shifted our university—the University of California, Berkeley—totally online, along with the whole of education from childcare up across the country and most of the planet. In the wake of this forced and unprecedented experiment, debates about what it means remain ongoing. Will the episodic dream of a placeless university, or at minimum a hybrid place/placeless one, come true? Millennia of experience argue for giving higher education a local, physical anchor. And most universities and colleges have this anchor as their starting place, even as they consider what their ongoing experience with virtual teaching, research, and administration means.