University students focus on making Salem more sustainable

Students from multiple academic fields across the University have the unique opportunity for their work to be applied to real-world problems.

The Sustainable City Year is a collaboration between the University and Salem to make Oregon’s capital city more sustainable under the Sustainable Cities Initiative, a University program that aims to develop and inform the public about sustainable projects.

During the school year, 25 courses, 25 faculty members and more than 600 undergraduate and graduate students will work on development, planning and civic engagement projects in Oregon’s capital city. Multidisciplinary fields involved in SCY include architecture, planning, public policy and management, law, business management and journalism. Students inaugurated SCY by making their first visits to Salem earlier this month.

Law and graduate student Jessica Bloomfield is getting her master’s degree in community and regional planning in the planning, public policy and management department. She also works as a graduate research fellow for SCI and is taking three SCY courses. Bloomfield is from Philadelphia, and she said that part of the reason she moved across the country was because of SCY.

“It’s a great opportunity to combine my two interests (law and planning),” she said. “SCY is how it all comes to fruition.”

Architecture graduate student Amanda K. Morgan also works for SCI and is taking a SCY studio class this term. She likes how SCY has a tangible goal with real-world clients.

“It has a practical application to real-world problems,” Morgan said. “It’s been a really transformative experience for me so far.”

Architecture graduate student James Austin is attending his first term at the University and is excited about SCY.

“It’s a great experience,” Austin said. He went on an SCY field trip to San Francisco for his studio class that Morgan is also registered in. The students looked at examples of how the city designed areas around the waterfront. SCY students also went to Salem on Oct. 1 to speak with the Salem mayor and other city officials.

SCI co-founder and planning, public policy and management professor Marc Schlossberg  said that there is nothing else like the SCY in the world.

“It’s redefining the way that public institutions of higher education are serving the public good,” Schlossberg said.

SCI students and faculty are encouraging interested students to join, SCI co-founder and planning, public policy and management professor Robert Young said.

“It’s something that can go into a student’s portfolio and give the University of Oregon student an extra boost,” Young said.

Undergraduate and graduate students register for courses on DuckWeb to get involved with SCY. All of the SCY courses are already existing classes.

“Energy and excitement is what we want right now,” Bloomfield said.

Gresham, Ore., was chosen as the first city for the project, which started last year. Portland State University is involved with SCY for the first time this year.

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