Project Cities is a university-community partnership. Through the program, sustainability faculty and students pair with a city to co-create strategies for better environmental, economic and social balance in the places we live. Students from multiple disciplines research difficult problems chosen by the city and propose innovative sustainability solutions that enable the city to make progress toward a better future.
ASU students in designated courses work directly with a local city on predetermined sustainability-related projects and challenges. Students from multiple disciplines research difficult problems chosen by the city and propose innovative sustainability solutions that enable the city to make progress toward a better future. Students benefit by learning to integrate social, economic and environmental sustainability knowledge into realistic solutions. In the process, participating cities may identify sustainable solution pathways for complex problems.
A recent article described the first year of the program.
ASU’s new Project Cities Program kicked off its inaugural university-community partnership with the City of Apache Junction on August 30, 2017 at the Apache Junction Multi-generational Center. Over 130 ASU students and faculty, mixing with the Apache Junction Mayor, City Council, Board Commissioners and staff, filled the large, multipurpose room with energy as Project Cities’ staff kicked off the collaborative partnership to address sustainability challenges in the City of Apache Junction. During 2017-2018 academic year, ASU students from six designated courses on three of ASU’s campuses will work directly with Apache Junction on a menu of co-determined, sustainability-related projects/challenges. The students – who represent multiple disciplines across campuses – will research challenges chosen by the city and then propose sustainability solutions that enable the city to achieve better environmental, economic, and social balance.
City elected officials and staff identified the following four challenges/projects:
- Positively Apache Junction (AJ): How to overcome the long-standing negative image problem of the city, held by residents and visitors, that stifle growth and community pride.
- Sustainability and Solid Waste: The lack of a mandated city solid waste plan with which residents must comply.
- Understanding Homelessness: Understanding an increase in the number and visibility of homeless people in the city, as well as identifying the services needed to overcome this problem.
- Off-Leash Dog Park: Identifying options for lower-cost, higher-benefit dog park facilities that have locations and amenities based on needs and best use options for residents.
As a part of the Kick-off event, student breakout sessions with city stakeholders offered the opportunity for round table discussions related to each of the projects. Conversations provided historical information for students, a chance for students to start thinking about solutions, and robust Q&A sessions with city staff and local stakeholders. A first-hand glance at the community context and complexities came during a half-hour bus tour of the city, highlighting city organization, zoning and development issues, as well as community assets and opportunities for improvement. Moving forward, students will do in-depth project research, hold additional meetings with stakeholders and, at the end of the academic semester, propose solutions and recommendations to the city through designs, reports, and presentations to city staff, stakeholders, and peers.
Fun Facts about Project Cities
Project Cities is the first, and may be the only program in the EPIC-Network to research and perform ghost stories as a part of their partnership. Read more in the campus news about the project in this article: ASU students perform 'Positively Ghostly' scenes in Apache Junction and watch the highlights here.
Another first of the EPIC-Network, ASU Project Cities integrates online classes into their course offerings. This allows students from near and far to support partner communities.
Year Program Established | 2017
Country | US
Federal Region of Program | 9
Public or Private Institution | Public
Number of students at institution | 72,000
Reports from the partnership with Apache Junction
New program pairs sustainability knowledge with implementation know-how
Apache Junction becomes inaugural partner of ASU’s Project Cities
Project Cities is a University-Community Partnership
2018 | City of Apache Junction • Population: 39,000