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Sustainable Solutions: Let Knowledge Serve the City

Portland, Oregon. Sustainability might not seem glamourous, but Portland is making a name for itself as one of the most sustainable cities in the world. Whether you’ve heard about the farmers’ markets, the cycle-friendly streets or the ongoing efforts to balance livability and equity, Portland is leading the way in urban sustainability: this book helps us understand how it achieves this.

A critical component of Portland’s success is collaboration between different communities and institutions; the Sustainable Solutions series examines higher education’s role in these partnerships. In exploring how best to “let knowledge serve the city”, Portland State University translates its founding motto from mere words to applied research and action.

This first volume examines different approaches to collaborative work that PSU has taken, both within the university and with community partners: how have barriers been overcome between different areas of study, between academia and the public, and why is bridging these divides so important? It also introduces the themes of the engaged university, social justice, climate change and sustainable economic development, which shape PSU’s work.

Let Knowledge Serve the City is ideal for anyone seeking best practice in connecting students and universities with the needs of local communities. From public interest design and student leadership, to food justice and age-friendly development, authors combine academically rigorous theories of sustainability and community-university partnerships with lessons learned on how to realize ideals of sustainable development.

A great example of vision, execution, and civic engagement led by faculty and administration of PSU ... an exceptional and inspiring story about cross-fertilization between higher education and Main Street that works to sustain and energize.

David W. Orr, Counselor to the President, Oberlin College

Other universities that genuinely want to create a sustainable future could learn much from PSU's model. This book should be read by university presidents, mayors, business titans, labor barons, and all the rest of us who care about our kids and grandkids

Denis Hayes, President, Bullitt Foundation; National Coordinator of the first Earth Day

Portland State University continues to be at the forefront of advancing sustainable outcomes in partnership with local communities. This book provides the toolbox for successful campus-community efforts for the cities around the world looking for tools to more sustainably address complex urban challenges. I’m continually impressed with the success of PSU’s sustainability programs, research and partnerships. Let Knowledge Serve the City proves that their model is not only replicable, but revolutionary for cities around the globe.

Congressman Earl Blumenauer

Across the country, we are seeing how higher education has tremendous potential to create a more sustainable world. One critical aspect of how colleges and universities can advance sustainability is through the partnerships they forge with their surrounding communities. Sustainable Solutions: Let Knowledge Serve the City shows how Portland State University [PSU] has broken down the “town and gown” divide to leverage its teaching, research, and student leadership agenda in service to the surrounding community. PSU is highly recognized for their culture of engagement and this book is a must-read for anyone in higher education who wants valuable guidance about how to accelerate sustainability on their campus and in their community.

- Meghan Fay Zahniser, Executive Director, Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)

In rethinking the future of cities, and thus the hopeful, successful and continued evolution of our species in those cities, Sustainable Solutions: Let Knowledge Serve the City does an outstanding job of thinking through and outlining the pathway in which both a knowledge enterprise and a city can co-evolve toward a positive outcome. In the past, universities have been separate from their surrounding environments, disconnected or even abstractly unconnected from the living, breathing place in which they are embedded. The team at Portland State University and their mission of “let knowledge serve the city” exquisitely bring together what I see as a prototype for how urban universities should work to ingrain themselves in their cities and ensure the ecological, economic and social success of their places.

Michael M. Crow, President, Arizona State University

Sustainability solutions in higher education are not primarily academic endeavors. They are action-oriented, addressing pressing and environmental challenges within a holistic framework often rooted firmly in a particular place. Since they are embedded within a learning environment, however, they can also continue to mature, inform and adapt to the social context while continuing to shape it. Portland State is at the vanguard of this movement and this book gives great examples, anchored in theory and applied in practice, of what this new institutional model could be for sustainability in higher education. In doing so they are reshaping the role higher education itself plays in the world.

Timothy Carter, PhD, President, Second Nature

Preface
Wim Wiewel

Introduction to Building the Platform
Jennifer H. Allen, David Ervin, B.D. Wortham-Galvin and Jacob Sherman

1. Building Sustainability Scholarship: Lessons Learned from Portland State University
Jennifer H. Allen, David Ervin, B. D. Wortham-Galvin and Jacob Sherman

2. Engaging Undergraduates across a Four-Year General Education Curriculum
J. R. Estes, Jeff Gerwing, Celine Fitsmaurice and Nathan McClintock

3. SBA undergraduate Business Strategy/Capstone Program: the Value of Working with Community Based Partners
William Jones and Darrell Brown

4. Cultivating Sustainability: A decade of Innovation and Community Partnerships at the Learning Gardens Laboratory in Southeast Portland
Heather Burns, Sybil Kelley and Dilafruz Williams

5. Building Capacity: Sustainability through Student Leadership
Amy Spring and Rachel Samuelson

6. Creating a Campus Culture of Sustainability through Partnerships with Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
Heather E. Spalding and Vicki L. Wise

7. Integrating Aging and Sustainability through University-Community Partnership
Alan DeLaTorre and Margaret Neal

8. Who’s at the Table? Food Justice Dialogue Series: Bridging Critical Food Studies and Anti-Oppression Praxis for just Sustainability
Nathan McClintock, Jen Turner, Monica Cuneo, Alex Novie and Sally Eck

9. Research and Action: The First Two Years of the Center for Public Interest Design
R. Todd Ferry and Sergio Palleroni

10. Accelerating Urban Sustainability: Helping Cities’ Translate Plans and Policies into the Reality of a More Sustainable Community
Robert Liberty and Judy Walton

11. Higher education as a driver for sustainability: The opportunities and challenges of the 21st century urban university
Jacob Sherman and Fletcher Beaudoin


Afterword

Acknowledgements

B.D. WORTHAM-GALVIN and JENNIFER H. ALLEN are faculty members at Portland State University, and JACOB SHERMAN is Sustainability Curriculum Coordinator at Portland State's Institute for Sustainable Solutions.

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