by Carina Molnar,                                                                                                         ...
Using Higher                                                Education-                                                Comm...
versities in the country. Each state has                                                                                  ...
Growth of Extension Service Partnerships: The land-grant colleges and associated ex-     tension programs emerged in the U...
proposed here, a critical issue is that ters—to act as seed beds for urban sus- tence or planned. One example we drawpartn...
tions as well. Most importantly, a poten-                                                                                 ...
on a year or semester basis. Stu-               ken down by general topics and                                            ...
Wikimedia Commons/Alan MakUSES programs could focus on urban food systems, green infrastructure, ecosystem services, and h...
Table 1. Potential Points of Entry for USES Partnerships     Topic                                             Course of S...
iStockPhoto/Chris Parypamental change create a highly dynamic        larger issues. The equivalent of the Land       advan...
3.	Metrics of Success and Funding:           Carina Molnar is at the CUNY Institute for Sustainable                       ...
Copyright of Environment is the property of Taylor & Francis Ltd and its content may not be copied or emailedto multiple s...
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Using higher education community partnerships to promote urban sustainability

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Using higher education community partnerships to promote urban sustainability

  1. 1. by Carina Molnar, Thor Ritz, Benjamin Heller, and William Solecki USES would work as an operationally reflective initiative whereby iStockPhoto/Dr. Heinz Linke - Photodesign curricula and place based learning opportunities would vary on a year or semester basis. Students and researchers will work with local stakeholders to identify relevant and timely projects that directly serve community needs, as defined by the USES board.T he search for greater sus- that this population accounts for a dis- achieving sustainability goals, a crucial tainability opportunities proportionate share of greenhouse gas question is: How can sustainability con- must include a focus on emissions, it is the projection of future cepts, research, and emerging technolo- cities and the process urban growth that is even more pro- gies be rapidly integrated into the eve- of global urbanization.1 vocative. The United Nations estimates ryday practice and life of urban places?How cities are built today and the life- that by 2050, the world’s urban popula- In this paper, we argue that institu-style of urban residents will influence tion is expected to almost double (from tions of higher education (e.g., univer-the extent to which sustainability goals 3.45 billion to 6.3 billion as a medium sities and colleges), especially thosecan be realized. While it is now widely estimate), representing most of the glo- located in cities, can help answer therecognized that the world’s popula- bal population growth over that time.2 question and invaluably contribute totion is more than 50 percent urban, and Given the role that cities will play in the attainment of sustainability goals.18 EnvironmEnt www.EnvironmEntmagazinE.org voLUmE 53 nUmBEr 1
  2. 2. Using Higher Education- Community Partnerships to Promote Urban Sustainability university extension service tradition and the socially transformative com- munity service ideals that began to grow within higher education after the campus protests of the late 1960s. The USES concept aims to position urban universities and colleges as catalysts for sustainability efforts in the cities in which they are located. This partnership between an institution of higher education and a commu- nity seeks to establish a dynamic and reflexive boundary organization as a foundation for primary research and testing of new technologies, so that best practices can be defined quickly and then efficiently implemented. Po- tential foci could include urban food systems, green infrastructure, ecosys- tem services, and high-performance building design. We argue here that a coordinated USES program will create place-based opportunities for con- fronting global challenges, while creating more resilient and livable cities. This type of partnership will generate prospects for implementing mitiga- tion and adaptation strategies in the face of rapid environmental change through a process of participatory sustainable development that meets com- munity needs, while engaging and training a new generation of urban en- vironmental thinkers and practitioners. It is well recognized that this type of engagement is necessary to respond to current sustainability challenges.4 Background Institutions of higher education in the United States have often served as catalysts for addressing national needs and societal challenges. The USES concept in many ways represents a blending of two important streams of thought and practice on partnerships between universities and colleges andA central way that this can be achieved is the communities in which they are located. The first stream is the land-through the development of university/col- grant/extension service program activities of universities and colleges thatlege–community3 partnerships that actively initially developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Thepromote the testing and implementation of second stream is the activist ambition of college students during the latecutting-edge sustainability approaches and 1960s, which was present on campuses across the United States and wastechnology in communities and neighbor- eventually institutionalized as a diverse set of community/service learninghoods via collaborative learning consor- opportunities or requirements now available for undergraduate students.tiums. This type of partnership is defined To begin with, the extension service program was intended to provide ahere as an urban sustainability extension mechanism for the scientific community, government administrators, andservice (USES) program, which we present resource managers to flexibly respond to the demands of a dynamic ruralas a blending of the century-old land-grant economy and opportunities of new and emerging agricultural and resourceJanUary/FEBrUary 2011 www.EnvironmEntmagazinE.org EnvironmEnt 19
  3. 3. versities in the country. Each state has at least one institution, as well as one in the District of Columbia. Many U.S. territories and Native American tribal lands also have land-grant institutions. Offices of each state’s cooperative ex- tension service are located at the land- grant universities, with other local and regional offices also present. A second stream of university–com- munity partnerships relevant for USES emerged out of the social dynamism and activism of the 1960s. During this period of dramatic social change, uni-iStockPhoto/Turbopixel versities and colleges became the scene for campus protest and a desire for in- creased opportunities to engage with real-world issues. While universities The 1887 Hatch Act authorized the development and federal funding of agricultural and colleges in many cases were slow experiment station programs at land-grant universities and colleges. to respond to student demands and in- terests, the next several decades saw a significant shift in institutions of higher management practices.5,6,7 In practice, vice became incubators and laboratories education, as education and learning the extension service programs were for agricultural and natural resource use theorists8 challenged university and col- a combination of testing, formal and advancement in ways that fundamen- lege administrators to define the provi- nonformal knowledge transfers, service tally changed rural America. sion of opportunities for students to be- provisions, and technology develop- Today, more than 100 universities come responsible citizens as a primary ment. In this way, land-grant institu- and colleges have land-grant status, role of higher education and, in turn, tions via the cooperative extension ser- including most of the major public uni- to restructure the connections between Growth of Service Learning in Universities: Following the social dynamism and activism of the 1960s, American universities and colleges gradually began incorporating service learning models into the fabric of their institutions. Service learning when embedded in curricular activi- ties enables students to participate in an organized activity that meets identified community needs and also advances their educational experience by gaining a further understanding of course content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic re- sponsibility.9 As such, service learning provides additional means for the instructors to help stu- dents reach the course and academic program’s goals. Four elemental constituencies of service learning programs have been identified: institution, faculty, students, and community. To create an effective experience, these groups need to work together through a sequence of activities, including planning and development, resource allocation, faculty and student engagement, imple- mentation, and evaluation.9,10 These calls helped push a dramatic increase in opportunities for student (and faculty) engage- ment in a wide array of social, political, and environmental issues beyond campus borders. In the past decade, many institutions of higher education have developed curricular and extracurricular programs for service learning via student civic engagement, including practica, field experiences, student teaching, project studios, public and community service, and internship requirements as part of their degree demands.9,10,11 20 Environment www.environmentmagazine.org VOLUME 53 NUMBER 1
  4. 4. Growth of Extension Service Partnerships: The land-grant colleges and associated ex- tension programs emerged in the United States during the mid and late nineteenth century when the members of the public sphere including federal, state, and local governments were becoming more active players in the promotion of social and economic development. At the time, the nation was largely rural and agrarian; in 1870 approximately three-quarters of the U.S. population lived in rural areas. Agricultural production in the United States during this time was quite dynamic, as huge swathes of territory in the western part of the country and along the Gulf Coast were being opened for agricultural development, while other farmland, primarily in the eastern United States, was being abandoned as degraded and relatively unproductive sites of rural economic deprivation. The 1887 Hatch Act authorized the development and federal funding of agricultural experi- ment station programs at land-grant universities and colleges. The Smith–Lever Act of 1914 was passed to encourage the active dissemination of the results of the experiment stations and to facilitate direct interaction with local farmers and managers.12 This act formally created the co- operative extensive service program, extension offices throughout the country, and the position of extension agent. Within the realm of higher education generally, and land-grant institutions specifically, significant attention was given to the expansion of applied and mechanical profes- sions—which, in part, was driven by a desire to apply new scientifically based agricultural and resource conservation knowledge (e.g., new agricultural techniques and materials such as hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers, and larger scale machinery, and concepts like sustained yield and mul- tiple use). Several major pieces of federal legislation were passed during this time to foster the development of public institutions of higher education.their institutions and local communitiesto help facilitate that goal. A parallel element of this enhancedpartnership between universities andcommunities has been an explicit cri-tique of the relationship between thetwo, and terms of engagement.10 A con-scious effort has been made to makethe dynamic between the partners morereflexive and interactive. The goal is toovercome the tension of the top-downpower structure present within moreestablished agreements between institu-tions of higher education and local com-munities. While the Cooperative Exten- Wikimedia Commons/National Archivession Service serves as a positive modelin terms of its scope, ambitiousness,and attention to societal challenges, itis fundamentally limited by its primarymode of top-down knowledge transfers.Flows of information were generallyset up to move only from research andtesting toward communities. For the A female demonstrator offers a flower to military police during an anti-Vietnam Wardevelopment of the USES program, as demonstration.January/February 2011 www.environmentmagazine.org environment 21
  5. 5. proposed here, a critical issue is that ters—to act as seed beds for urban sus- tence or planned. One example we drawpartnerships that include externally tainability practice development, test- from is a course offered in The Charlton(i.e., expert) defined solutions to local ing, training, and implementation. As School of Business MBA program: “In-problems, without firm and grounded cities become the main stage of human novation and Creativity in Sustainablecommunity input, often can result in settlement, in a rapidly environmentally Management.” It challenged studentsnegative, unintended consequences for transforming world, urban universities to include sustainability values in theirthe community.13 can play an extremely important role in business plans for both real and fic- A reinterpretation of the goals and helping put best practices into place. tional enterprises. After looking at localmethods of university-based, commu- With respect to the transition to sus- and national market research indicatingnity research derived from this critique tainability, institutions of higher educa- commuters’ limited preference for car-has been developed. The resulting re- tion have four broad opportunities for pooling, a student developed the ideasearch approach states that a central intervention and impact. These include: and software for e-Carmony. The initia-objective must be to enhance the lives (1) education and curriculum develop- tive sets up an online interface whereand conditions of local residents, and ment; (2) promotion of pure research; individuals can look for fellow com-community stakeholders should be in- (3) promotion of applied research and muters who are compatible ride-sharingvolved at the earliest stages of a proj- development; and (4) retrofit of uni- matches based on starting points andect and throughout its development and versity/college facilities and materials destinations, driving styles, and musi-implementation. The research also must procurement. Using these four points of cal tastes. The pilot study group for theprovide opportunities initiative includes com-for community empow- muters to the universityerment and self-deter- campus.16mination. At its most Ranging from efforts to mobilize students not The Urban Defensetransformative, a partic- traditionally engaged in “environmental” issues, Project at Oberlin Col-ipatory action research to shedding light on the interconnectivity of lege (Oberlin, Ohio) fo-approach has been initi- urban resilience and vulnerability cuses on urban renewal,ated in many academic resilience, and energydisciplines with the core reduction by providingmission to conduct research to provide intervention, a rigorous, inclusive, and residents access to institutions and re-communities with the analytical and multidisciplinary urban sustainability sources to encourage system wide re-technical skills and background knowl- extension service could be established. vitalization efforts. During the summeredge needed to enable residents to ad- Throughout the country on univer- 2010 pilot run of the program, sixteendress and resolve their own problems.14 sity and college campuses, sustainabil- students worked on issues surroundingThe model of the university/college ity-related programs and activities have “community energy efficiency, beautifi-researcher passing down expert knowl- been developed and are being imple- cation, food access, and policy accessi-edge as edicts is no longer deemed vi- mented around one or more of these bility.” Students spoke with hundreds ofable and appropriate. four themes. Additional insight and community members, collected surveys perspective on the structure of a pro- for the city’s new weatherization pilot posed USES program can be gained by program, installed efficient lightbulbs, reviewing programs in universities and and crafted local policy recommenda-Existing Urban Sustainability colleges throughout the United States tion based on community feedback. TheHigher Education Initiatives that specifically include partnerships winter 2011 program will work to look with local communities, partnerships at education, job training, and economic The current era of climate change, that connect these institutions with lo- opportunities for high school and col-rapid urban growth, and sustainabil- cal residents, government institutions, lege students in Cleveland.17ity challenges, paired with new green businesses, and nongovernmental orga- At Dillard University (New Orleans,technology and environmental activism nizations. In the following, we highlight Louisiana), a historically black institu-in cities, in some ways echoes the turn four initiatives that have specific com- tion of higher education, the Deep Southof the past century and the concerns for ponents that should be incorporated into Center for Environmental Justice is anland degradation, rapid rural growth, the proposed USES program.15 impressive example of connecting theand decline with the promise of new ag- At the University of Massachusetts– university to locally relevant, region-ricultural techniques and scientifically Dartmouth, numerous departments, specific issues and creating a trainingbased resource management concepts. including Mechanical Engineering, center around them. Focused on issuesA clear and present need is evident for Environmental Policy Studies, and of environmental rights, specificallyinstitutions of higher learning—particu- the MBA program, have sustainability the right to be free from environmentallarly those located in metropolitan cen- tracks or certificates already in exis- harm and its impacts on “health, jobs,22 Environment www.environmentmagazine.org VOLUME 53 NUMBER 1
  6. 6. tions as well. Most importantly, a poten- tial USES program should focus on the needs and concerns of cities and urban sustainability generally, but operate within the constraints and opportunities of the specific neighborhood. In order to develop a program that meets these ba- sic criteria, we envision an initial model that includes three critical components. 1. Governing Body and the Extension Service Action Strategy. The suc- iStockPhoto/LL28 Photography cess of this program is ultimately dependent on community engage- ment and institutional commit- ment. The process of developing the Extension Service action strat- egy would include initial planningPartnering organizations in a USES program could offer sustainable infrastructure meetings with community mem-improvements, such as solar installation. bers and appropriate faculty and university leaders. This would be the first step of a community needshousing, education, and general quality Ranging from efforts to mobilize stu- assessment to collaborativelyof life,” the center provides a place for dents not traditionally engaged in “envi- document local priorities and ini-scientific researchers, decision makers, ronmental” issues, to shedding light on tiative opportunities. It would alsoand community members to collabo- the interconnectivity of urban resilience establish a governing board taskedrate. Perhaps its most important charac- and vulnerability, these programs incor- with designing a leadership struc-teristic is its unique approach to com- porate important components of com- ture, the program mission, and itsmunity–university relationships: a com- munity development and sustainability daily operation. The board wouldmuniversity exchange, which focuses research agendas, while bringing them develop schedules for continualon “collaborative management,” and a to the forefront of university–neighbor- dialogue, feedback mechanisms,recognition of both local and scientific hood partnerships. The USES initiative and monitoring and evaluationexpertise as vital to the partnership. would work to combine these com- plans, and essentially build theInitiatives range from hazardous waste ponents in one program with a focus structure that the USES initiativesworker training to hosting two national on food systems, ecosystem services, would operate within.symposia on the building of New Or- green infrastructure, and building sci- 2. Extension Office and Experimentleans post Hurricane Katrina.18 ence and how they pertain to and affect Station. The office and experiment The Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, New the residents of the particular partner- station’s main purpose would be toYork) Center for Community Develop- ing communities. Specifically, USES create an inclusive, educational at-ment has developed the Block by Block would work to focus further on research mosphere, which worked to makeProject, which works to move sustain- and development in place. sustainability science and prac-ability agendas forward by building tice more accessible, inclusive,weatherization and retrofitting-for- and relevant to the experience ofefficiency initiatives, as well as to in- USES in a New York the particular community. Thiscrease employment opportunities in City Neighborhood: physical space would serve as thethese fields for low- to middle-income Prospects and Proposal initiative headquarters as well asresidents within the targeted commu- a hub for teaching, learning, re-nity. The center is now working with Our objective is to develop a USES search and experimentation, focusproperty owners on a section of blocks program, within a four-year City Uni- groups, workshops, and commu-to concentrate the necessary work in a versity of New York college (i.e., nity outreach. It would essentiallycluster within the neighborhood to take Hunter College, located on the east serve as a physical clearinghouseadvantage of existing social networks. side of Manhattan with approximately for the initiative. Its function andPratt students work side by side with co- 20,000), that draws on the strengths of usage would be organized in part-ordinators and engage with the program these existing programs and partner- nership with local neighborhoodas community–university liaisons.19 ships while acknowledging their limita- organizations, allowing for greaterJanuary/February 2011 www.environmentmagazine.org environment 23
  7. 7. on a year or semester basis. Stu- ken down by general topics and dents and researchers will work potential courses of study or foci with local stakeholders to identify that could be incorporated into the relevant and timely projects that USES program. directly serve community needs, as defined by the USES board. 4. The USES program also would A wide range of disciplines from encourage and develop informal the physical and social sciences, learning opportunities that would humanities, and applied sciences focus specifically on public edu- could likely formulate relevant cation. These initiatives could syllabi for the USES program. In likely be developed by marketing, professional studies, there are op- communications, and integrated portunities to incorporate schools media students and might include Wikimedia Commons/RenuHunter of continuing education as well as the development of public serv- traditional curriculum in business, ice announcements, provocative legal, and chemical and civil engi- and locally relevant educational neering arenas. Finally, one of the posters, podcasts, short films, and most important components of the traditional print pieces. Addition- program is hands-on job training ally, community service initiatives and opportunities that lead to eco- could be incorporated into coursesExperts are developing a USES program at nomic opportunities. Partnering that require internships or serv-Hunter College in New York, shown here. CUNY Institutes and community ice learning. And finally, students organizations could offer solar in- from the school of public health synergies and cooperative learning stallation certification, alternative and nursing could be involved in between university researchers, energy education, HVAC (heat- community monitoring and epide- students, local decision makers, ing, ventilation, and air condition- miology studies. and stakeholders. On a more logis- ing) maintenance, green building tical level, it would also serve as design, and weatherization pro- a central information node where grams. In Table 1 are examples of Developing a USES program in a people could come in and learn study areas that could contribute city has a set of opportunities and chal- about the initiative and identify directly to the pilot program, bro- lenges. One opportunity is that urban opportunities to connect with it. The extension office would also have a robust, interactive online “station” that would include infor- mation about the program, updates and news, community meetings, volunteer opportunities, and indi- vidual blogs for USES initiatives. It would also include information about other existing university– community partnerships and the larger USES network that this ini- tiative is working toward. Oppor- tunities to take advantage of new Wikimedia Commons/Mozart Diensthuber media platforms that allow for continual and consistent conversa- tion would be utilized as well. 3. Experiment Station Courses, Syl- labi, and Applied Learning Expe- riences. USES would work as an operationally reflective initiative Students and researchers will work with local stakeholders to identify relevant and whereby curricula and place-based timely projects that directly serve community needs in neighbourhoods like this one in learning opportunities would vary East Harlem.24 Environment www.environmentmagazine.org VOLUME 53 NUMBER 1
  8. 8. Wikimedia Commons/Alan MakUSES programs could focus on urban food systems, green infrastructure, ecosystem services, and high performance building design, suchas this solar-powered laundromat.universities are uniquely positioned to Significant challenges also must be ability innovation and practiced culturalimplement such a program because of acknowledged within the USES model norms will not always be compatible.the often long-standing, close connec- that distinguishes it from the existing Another challenge rests in the ques-tions between students, researchers, extension service framework. One chal- tion of transferability, and how to trans-and community stakeholders. In the lenge is the complexity of the testing, late the results and lessons learned fromcase of Hunter College, most students and trial-and-error experimentation in community-level programming in aattended New York City public schools a highly integrated, human system, like specific neighborhood to another loca-and grew up in the city’s middle- and a city neighborhood. The USES pro- tion in a distant city. With an end goal ofworking-class neighborhoods. Initiating gram must be sensitive to how project establishing a national urban extensionvital, place-based research at a school results and findings can have direct program, a certain element of univer-like Hunter is a powerful learning tool bearing on lifestyles and livelihoods of sality is necessary. Complicating this isbecause it will allow students to link local residents, and must work to ensure the fact that neighborhoods—and entiretheir interests and research to their own that certain groups and individuals are cities even—are often defined by theirneighborhoods. The students them- not advantaged or disadvantaged in the unique characteristics and qualities. Toselves become a crucial contact point process. Human subjects review pro- address this, focus will need to be onbetween the college and community. cedures will need to be implemented, designing experiments and sustainabil-Their involvement and actions might and possibly adapted to consider the ity tests which ensure the identificationsignificantly enhance the rate of com- elements of the USES protocol and pro- of transferable, broader implications.munity engagement and new sustain- cess. For example, the USES program Creating opportunities for collaborationability practice adoption. must be sensitive to the fact that sustain- with other USES programs in variousJanuary/February 2011 www.environmentmagazine.org environment 25
  9. 9. Table 1. Potential Points of Entry for USES Partnerships Topic Course of Study and Foci Carbon calories, ecosystem strain, Food/urban agriculture soil remediation, food waste Measuring sustainability Research design, metrics, indicators, and trends Ecosystem services, bio-remediation, environmental Ecological services engineering, urban forestry, estuary restoration GIS (geographic information systems), spatial analysis, land Mapping sustainability use reviews, brownfields remediation Urban epidemiology, open space benefits and valuation, Public health environmental psychology Waterfront access and Transformation in access and conditions, estuary ecosystems shoreline resources and history Resource availability Climate change and water supply Diversifying energy options, renewable applications in the Climate change and energy urban environment, solar installation training Economic development The green collar movement, natural capital Art and sustainability Nature writing, photography, visual arts, and communication Humanities and sustainability Philosophy, environmental ethics Retrofitting for sustainability Building science, architecture, HVAClocales will facilitate cross-validation of practices for promoting urban sustain- research is moving forward and theprogramming activities and help build ability. These advances have all contrib- communities in which new approachestransferability into each site’s operation uted to making cities more livable, sus- and technologies must be applied. Whatat its earliest stages. tainable, and resilient in the face of cli- is more, the rate at which new findings mate change and rapid urban expansion. are synthesized in a traditional univer- Progress, however, has lacked co- sity laboratory setting is far outpacedUniversity as ordination and a consensus has not yet by the rapid rate of urban transforma-Catalyst—City as Laboratory developed around how sustainability is tion and the pressing need for sustain- to be defined or how different initiatives ability as dictated by current projections Through theoretical and applied re- are to be implemented in cities. Further- of climate change and other forms ofsearch, groundbreaking effort has been more, a significant disconnect remains ongoing climate change. Together, bothdone to advance knowledge of best between the places where cutting-edge urbanization and the process of environ-26 Environment www.environmentmagazine.org VOLUME 53 NUMBER 1
  10. 10. iStockPhoto/Chris Parypamental change create a highly dynamic larger issues. The equivalent of the Land advancement and finally, to its suc-situation in cities in the United States. Grant initiative and its subsequent ex- cessful application? True to the callUrban sustainability best practice de- tension programs have yet to be devel- for a multisector partnership, anvelopment and implementation must re- oped for the contemporary urban age. ideal directorate would consist ofspond to this challenge, and in this way An obvious need is present to develop leadership from a federal agency,universities can serves as a catalyst, and a larger scale national program that and a selection of local leaderscities as laboratories. ranging from community organiza- Many municipal governments have tions to university departmental fig-already designed plans to make their Many municipal governments ures, and administrators for specificcities more sustainable, as colleges and have already designed local initiatives of the larger USESuniversities have taken on the call to plans to make their cities program. The U.S. Department ofpromote sustainability through teach- Housing and Urban Development more sustainable, as collegesing and research. Together these ef- is an agency that organizationallyforts represent an ambitious attempt to and universities have taken would have the capacity to leadhighlight the need for sustainability and on the call to promote such a USES initiative, especiallyillustrate potential pathways for its re- sustainability through given its recent increased focus onalization. The opportunity to test ideas teaching and research. urban sustainability issues throughand solutions for sustainable urban de- its Choice Community program andvelopment in cities themselves is excit- other related initiatives.ing and timely, but ultimately demandsa further expansion of initiatives and can capitalize on these already existing 2. Structure and Organization: Howgreater coordination between institu- programs, creating further synergy and can the program be crafted to in-tions of higher learning and their home coordination, which could potentially corporate the best of the classiccommunities. lead to a movement not dissimilar to extension service model and the To achieve this, the functions of in- the changes that transformed rural and community participatory engage-stitutions of higher education as they agricultural society in the early twenti- ment approach? Are their examplesrelate to sustainability practices must eth century. It is ultimately our goal that of other movements and their insti-be formalized, coordinated, and maxi- this program and the associated uni- tutional formalization that mightmized if the goal of achieving greater versity–community partnerships will serve as recent successful examplesurban sustainability is to be achieved. provide cutting-edge research and in- of blending these two elements?In the USES model, evaluation of best novation as we face this set of new and The development and institutional-practices comes through exploring and growing, and ever more dynamic, urban ization of the environmental justicetesting real world applications that en- environmental challenges. movement could be seen as onegage students, researchers, and urban To move forward with this discussion example. As an effort that beganresidents simultaneously. It promotes and action, there are critical questions simultaneously in many communi-place-based research—and learning— that need to be addressed with respect to ties in the United States, the issuethat benefits and serves those most di- a USES program within a specific city, has become integrated into the for-rectly involved and in need. and across a set of cities. Three promi- mal operations of local, state, and Based on our review, existing uni- nent questions are presented next: federal agencies while at the sameversity–community, sustainability-fo- time retaining its grass-roots, ac-cused partnerships are responding to lo- 1. Leadership and Decision Making: tivist foundation. The relationshipcally relevant, critical issues. However, Who will lead this initiative and between the two is constantly re-they are not part of an extended network guide its development from initial newed through ongoing dialoguethat focuses on prevailing trends and the concept development to strategic and collaboration.January/February 2011 www.environmentmagazine.org environment 27
  11. 11. 3. Metrics of Success and Funding: Carina Molnar is at the CUNY Institute for Sustainable 14. Baum, F., C. MacDougall, and D. Smith. 2006. Participatory action research. Journal of Epidemiology How might a USES program mea- Cities (CISC), Thor Ritz is in the Department of Geog- and Community Health. 60:854–57. raphy and CISC at CUNY, Benjamin Heller is at CISC, sure its success? What are the spe- and William Solecki is at the Department of Geography 15. The following is a list of university and college and CISC at CUNY. programs we reviewed for this paper that currently cific benchmarks that will help us maintain community partnerships that explicitly include assess strengths and weaknesses? at least three of the following elements: urban-focused, sustainability, extension service, and service learning. We Is it by measuring the capacity of do not consider this an exhaustive list of such programs: a larger USES structure to facilitate NOTES Arizona State University: School of Sustainability; Alabama A&M University: The Urban Environmental existing initiatives? And further- Science Education Program (UESEP); University of 1. Rosenzweig, C., W. Solecki, S. Hammer, and more, how can this initiative take S. Mehrotra. 2011. First assessment report on climate Colorado at Boulder: Earth Education; Cornell University: Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE); University of shape, given the financial realities change and cities. New York: Cambridge University Houston–Clear Lake: Environmental Institution of Press. In press. of the current era? Ideally, moni- Houston; University of Illinois–Chicago: Center for 2. UN Habitat. 2008. State of the world’s cities: Neighborhood and Community Improvement; University toring and evaluation opportuni- Harmonious cities. http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/ of Massachusetts at Dartmouth: Office of Campus and ties should be built into the initial listItemDetails.aspx?publicationID=2562 Community Sustainability; Michigan State University: 3. Community in this context is defined as a Center for Community and Economic Development program timeline, and securing specific geographic location, its buildings, and all of (CCED); Oberlin College: The Urban Defense Project; funding is a critical component of the residents, social networks, civic organizations, Occidental College: Urban & Environmental Policy schools, businesses and other locally relevant nodes of Institute (UEPI); University of Pennsylvania: The the implementation process. New exchange and interaction that exist within it. Numerous Netter Center for Community Partnerships; Portland strategies for fundraising, includ- other types of communities can be defined including State University: Institution for Portland Metropolitan individuals or entities with similar essential common Studies; Pratt Institute: Graduate Center for Planning and ing federal sponsorship, university characteristics—e.g., members of an organization, the Environment; Tulane University: Center for Public contribution, and other revenue fraternity, or association, as well as social media and Service; and University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee: virtual communities Center for Urban Initiatives Research. Recent references streams, must be explored. Poten- for urban/community focused sustainability and service 4. Stafford, S. G., D. M. Bartels, S. Begay-Campbell, tial funding opportunities should be J. L. Bubier, J. C. Crittenden, S. L. Cutter, J. R. Delaney, learning campus programs include the following: Glasser;20 Pearce;21 Riley et al.;22 Allen-Gil et al.;23 Keen evaluated within evolving federal T. E. Jordan, A. C. Kay, G. D. Libecap, J. C. Moore, N. and Baldwin;24 Milton and Guevin.25 N. Rabalais, D. Rejeski, O. E. Sala, J. M. Shepherd, and legislation on climate change and J. Travis. 2009. Now is the time for action: Transitions 16. University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth: alternative energy. and tipping points in complex environmental systems. Sustainability studies. n.d. http://www1.umassd.edu/ Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable sustainability/studies/welcome.cfm Development 52 (1): 38–45. 17. Urban Defense Project. n.d. http://www. In summary, this is a fantastically in- 5. Rasmussen, W. D. 2002. Taking the university to urbandefenseproject.org the people: Seventy-five years of cooperative extension. 18. Dillard University, Deep South Center forteresting time to focus on the issue of West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press Environmental Justice. n.d. http://www.dscej.orgurban sustainability. In the past decade, 6. Grudens-Schuk, N., and B. A. Kramer. 2001. 19. Pratt Institute, The Pratt Center for Communitylocalities and their institutions have be- Land-grant universities and extension into the 21st Development. n.d. http://prattcenter.net/news/ century: Renegotiating or abandoning a social contract. retrofit-block-block-inspires-new-citywide-programcome quite entrepreneurial with respect Ames: Iowa State University. 20. Glasser, H. 2010. An early look at building ato the issue. While the progress that in- 7. Fiske, E. P. 1989. From Rolling Stones to social learning for sustainability community of practice. cornerstones: Anchoring land-grant education in the Journal of Education for Sustainable Development 4 (1):dividual cities can make is significant, counties through the Smith–Lever Act of 1914. Rural 61–72.much work remains to be done. This Sociologist 9 (4): 7–14. 21. Pearce, J. M. 2009. Appropedia as a tool forpaper and the USES concept in part 8. Boyer, E. 1994. Creating the New American service learning in sustainable development. Journal of College. Chronicle of Higher Education March 9, A48. Education for Sustainable Development 3:45–53.embody a step to take stock, assess, and 9. Bringle, R. G., and J. A. Hatcher. 1996. 22. Riley, D. R., C. E. Thatcher, and E. A. Workman.bring the work to the next level. To get Implementing service learning in higher education. 2006. Developing and applying green building Journal Higher Education. 67 (2): 221–39.there, systematic evaluation and coordi- technology in an indigenous community: An engaged 10. Bringle, R. G., and J. A. Hatcher. 2002. Campus- approach to sustainability education. Internationalnation need to take place to understand community partnerships: Terms of engagement. Journal Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 7 (2):existing university–community partner- of Social Issues 58 (3): 503­ 16. – 142–57. 11. Bringle, R. G., and J. A. Hatcher. 2000. 23. Allen-Gil, S., L. Walker, G. Thomas, T. Shevory,ships, with the final goal of creating a Institutionalization of service learning in higher and S. Elan. 2005. Forming a community partnershipgeneric framework that affords the best education. Journal of Higher Education 71 (3): 273–90. to enhance education in sustainability. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 6 (4):opportunities for success and replicabil- 12. Gusto n, D. H., et al. 2000. Report of the 392–402. Workshop on Boundary Organizations in Environmentality in as many towns and cities as pos- Policy and Science. Discussion Paper 2000-32. 24. Keen, C., and E. Baldwin. 2004. Studentssible. This work will require input and Piscataway, NJ: Environmental and Occupational Health promoting economic development and environmental Sciences Institute at Rutgers University and UMDNJ- sustainability: An analysis of the impact of involvementleadership from all quarters including RWJMS; Cambridge: Global Environmental Assessment in a community-based research and service-learningresearchers, university/college adminis- Project, Environment and Natural Resources Program. program. International Journal of Sustainability in Environment and Natural Resources Program, Kenne. Higher Education. 5 (4): 384–94.trators and members of their campuses, 13. Vanclay, F., and B. Lawrence. 1994. Farmer 25. Milton, C. J., and T. G. Guevin. 2003. Buildinggovernment officials at local, state, and rationality and the adoption of environmentally sound commitment to sustainability through habitat restoration: practices: A critique of the assumptions of traditional A case study of the Valley Forge Christian College.federal levels, and most importantly the agricultural extension.  Journal of Agricultural Education International Journal of Sustainability in Higherresidents of the nation’s communities. and Extension 1 (1): 59–90. Education 4 (3): 250–56.28 Environment www.environmentmagazine.org VOLUME 53 NUMBER 1
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