University of Minnesota
UniversityUniversity of Minnesota
ProgramResilient Communities Project
Case TypeProgram Stories
School SizeGreater than 40,000
Focus AreasDemocratic Governance, Economic and Social Inclusion, Environment Sustainability
DisciplineArchitecture, Design, Economic Development, Election Administration, Geography, GIS, Planning, Public Administration, Public Policy, Resilience, Social Work, Sustainability
Resilient Communities Project
Communities are constantly evolving in response to their unique local challenges and opportunities. The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is an award-winning, cross-disciplinary program at the University of Minnesota designed to build community resilience—the capacity to adapt and thrive in the face of changing social, economic, technological, and environmental conditions.
Our mission is to connect local government agencies in Minnesota with U of M students and faculty to work collaboratively on projects that both advance community resilience, equity, and sustainability and enhance student learning, knowledge, and skills.
Each year, RCP selects one or more local government agencies in Minnesota (typically cities or counties) to participate in a year-long partnership with the University and collaborate on 1 to 20 locally defined projects. Projects can address a wide range of local issues, opportunities, and needs. RCP encourages projects that address racial inequities and disparities in Minnesota.
RCP strategically connects each locally defined project with graduate and professional students and faculty at the University of Minnesota who can provide research or technical assistance to drive change—by gathering and analyzing local data, convening community discussions, bringing innovative ideas and solutions to the table, and facilitating new collaborations and connections.
Students participate in RCP by enrolling in an RCP-affiliated course, serving on an RCP Fellows team, or connecting an individual thesis, capstone, field experience, or directed study with an RCP project. Local government staff and community stakeholders work closely with faculty and students to provide local knowledge and deeper insight into the issues, ensuring projects are not only innovative, but relevant to the community context.
At the conclusion of the academic term, outcomes from each University course or student team that worked on a project are documented in a final report and presentation, or other deliverables that meet the community’s needs. Project results are shared with the partner community and disseminated through the University’s Digital Conservancy, where they can be accessed by other communities in Minnesota or anywhere.
RCP is a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota. The program began as an initiative of the University’s Graduate Sustainability Education Network, and received initial support from a two-year Discovery Grant from the Institute on the Environment.
Fun Facts about RCP
In a typical year, RCP matches 15 projects with 25 courses across 10 or more academic departments, providing applied research and learning opportunities to 200 graduate and professional students.
Since its creation in 2012, RCP has matched projects with more than 50 academic departments or disciplines at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Duluth campuses, including architecture, planning, law, engineering, business, design, public policy, environmental sciences, and the humanities.
Year Program Established | 2012
Country | United States
Federal Region of Program | 5
Public or Private Institution | Public
Number of students at institution | 50,000+
Testimonials about the Program
“The Resilient Communities Project is a model for promoting greater collaboration and engagement across disciplines by connecting the wide-ranging expertise of the U of M faculty and graduate students with cities, business, and organizations in Minnesota. This innovative approach not only provides sustainability solutions for our partner communities, but also enhances our curriculum with interdisciplinary methods that are helping our students to develop the knowledge, skills, and agility that they will need as tomorrow’s innovators, lifelong learners, and global citizens.”
—Karen Hanson, VP and Provost for Academic Affairs, University of Minnesota
“A lot of times staff are so busy with their day-to-day work and the projects they need to manage to keep an organization running, or the program that they’re in charge of going forward, that they don’t always have the wherewithal or time to take that step back, and take a deep breath, and really dive into the research that might be needed to make a change. . . Bringing students on board to think about it from that perspective—and bring that extra capacity to think critically about a project—is what RCP brings that staff wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.”
—Nate Kabat, Planner, Carver County
The Resilient Communities Project
Joining Forces: Resilience Adaptation Strategies by Karla Hignite
Episode 10: Partnering with Colleges & Universities
Awesomely Urban by Meleah Maynard
Grand challenge: build resilient communities by Monique Dubos
U offering cities a new partnership to solve problems by Kelly Smith
2012 | Minnetonka
2013 | North St. Paul
2014 | Rosemount
2015 | Carver County
2016 | Brooklyn Park
2017 | Ramsey
2018 | Scott County
2018 | Ramsey County
2019 | Scott County • St. Anthony Village • Ramsey • Minneapolis Public Housing Authority • League of Minnesota Cities
2020 | Little Canada • Victoria • Carver County Water Management Organization • Metropolitan Council • CapitolRiver District Council • Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association • Saint Paul • Minnetonka • Carver County • Woodbury
2021 | Hennepin County Elections Division • Towerside Innovation District • U of MN American Indian Tribal Nations Relations Office • SouthWest Transit • Edina • Wyoming • Little Canada • Maplewood • Washington County