Frontiers: University-community collaboration: Cool!


How can we build long-term capacity to produce sustainable solutions and resilient institutions? How can we foster innovation in engagement and cross-disciplinary collaboration in universities? Carissa Schively Slotterback, IonE resident fellow and associate professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, addressed these questions during the April 24 Frontiers in the Environment seminar, “University-Community Collaboration to Advance Sustainability.”

Slotterback is the director of the Resilient Communities Project, “a direct response to the growing need to find sustainability solutions to issues facing our communities, by connecting the wide-ranging expertise of U of M faculty and students with cities, businesses and organizations in Minnesota,” according to the RCP website.

RCP works with a community for one year on planning, policy and infrastructure projects identified by the community, Slotterback said. “RCP works as facilitator, matchmaker, trouble-shooter, quality controller and promoter,” she said.

For the 2012-2013 academic year, RCP matched 23 U of M courses to 14 sustainability projects for the City of Minnetonka. Students in the courses got real-time experience working in real-world situations. For example, students from the School of Architecture and the Law School worked on a stormwater management project, and course participants in the Department of Geography and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs tackled Minnetonka’s parking and land use project.

The overall focus of RCP is to respond to “multiple intersecting opportunities and trends, with the potential to make significant progress and infuse energy in a city’s move toward sustainability and resilience,” said Slotterback.

Like to learn more? You can watch a video of Slotterback’s Frontiers presentation here. And please join us for the final Frontiers talk of the semester Wednesday, May 1, when Laura Musacchio, IonE resident fellow and associate professor of landscape architecture in the College of Design, speaks on “Knowledge Systems for Ecosystem Services: Where does the Cultural Dimension Fit In?”

Monique Dubos is a freelance writer and photographer. She currently works at the University of Minnesota.