HomeEducationSustainability EducationA don’t-miss course: SUST 4004 Sustainable Communities

A don’t-miss course: SUST 4004 Sustainable Communities

By SUST 4004 Professors Amir Nadav and Kimberly Byrd

This fall’s SUST 4004 course on sustainable communities builds on a multi-year collaboration with several local communities, providing students an opportunity to apply your skills and contribute to real sustainability projects. Additional seats are available in this fall’s course — enroll today, or continue reading to learn more about this year’s projects.

This capstone course will integrate theoretical learning about the environmental, economic, and social justice dimensions of sustainability to explore its application in a specific context: What does sustainability look like in three cities in the Twin Cities metropolitan area?

When the rubber hits the road and our theoretical ideas about a just and equitable society collide with the application of these ideas in the real world, what happens?

In this course, you will explore conceptual tools that enable you to integrate learning across disciplines and have the opportunity to apply your knowledge in project-based collaborative learning with local city leaders. You will gain an understanding of the ways cities engage with community members to collect input and foster support for sustainability initiatives. You will be presenting your work to the community, and will complete a project that tangibly contributes to sustainability work in the Twin Cities metro area.

Capstone projects this fall focus on transportation and housing. Below are the selected possible projects for this fall.

Housing Redevelopment

The city of Lauderdale intends to acquire small homes (defined as less than 700 square feet) and develop on their sites homes that are more family- or senior-friendly, as green as possible, and fit the character of the existing neighborhood. What should the specs be? What should the city ask for in their Request for Proposals to developers? What can be learned from other Minnesota cities with similar housing redevelopment programs?

Model Green Home

Saint Anthony Village would like to make a 1950s-era single-family detached house a showcase of sustainable innovation and a model for similar homes in the city. Drawing on inspiration from LEED and the Living Building Challenge, students will develop detailed recommendations to be implemented in one property, and educational resources for other residents in the community.

Energy Audits

How do we increase the use of home energy audits to identify and implement projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? What are the values, barriers, and bridges? How do we communicate effectively and develop successful policy? We may closely study the experience of three households to distill insights.

Planning the Sustainability Fair

St. Anthony Village is interested in incorporating sustainability into its next update to the city’s comprehensive plan, a foundational document that guides future growth. Students will (a) conduct interviews with local stakeholders to identify key questions, perceptions, and goals related to sustainability in the community and (b) research examples on sustainability planning and best practices from other communities. A workshop in early 2016 with the US Green Building Council – MN will help the city address key questions and priorities identified by the students this fall.

Bike Infrastructure

How does the City of Falcon Heights make itself more bicycle friendly? Based on residents’ feedback and ridership information, what infrastructure could help establish or enhance a robust network that effectively connects more residents by bike to key destinations such as the UMN and the new bus rapid transit stops?

Bus Rapid Transit

BRT is coming to the City of Falcon Heights. How can we develop effective Public Relations, communications, and marketing for this project in order to demystify the new system and enhance its value to local residents? How can the city leverage the new bus rapid transit stops to enhance economic development, bolster local businesses, and help strengthen the city’s identity?

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