UW Bothell Associate Professor Kevin Laverty is the principal investigator for a three-year $600,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to develop community partnerships to address the region’s most important environmental management problems and opportunities.
The grant, entitled “University of Washington Environmental Management Keystone Projects,” provides fellowships for students, support for faculty, and will launch a speakers series. For the first year of the grant, keystone projects are being conducted in partnership with the City of Seattle, and are addressing restorative redevelopment of the central waterfront, local and organic food, and closed loop recycling of organic waste. For future years, Laverty hopes to have increased participation from local businesses and work with one or more agencies from state government.
“We congratulate the UW for winning this impressive Luce Foundation grant,” says Steve Nicholas, Director, City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment. “We look forward to collaborating with some of UW’s best and brightest students and faculty to address some of Seattle’s greatest environmental challenges and opportunities. This partnership is another example of why the University is one of our community’s greatest assets.”
Laverty, who is director of the University of Washington Environmental Management (EM) Graduate Certificate Program, says the keystone projects have a dual target: students, who will benefit from working in interdisciplinary teams on real-world environmental management problems, and the participating community partners, who will be able to tap into University expertise.
In accepting the grant, UW President Mark Emmert wrote, “Support from the Luce Foundation will allow us to significantly improve the training our students receive in environmental management and will make this training available to a much broader range of students”.
According to Laverty, “Through implementing successful projects with community partners and the enhanced visibility generated by our high-profile speaker series, we hope to expand the number and variety of partnerships for the three years of the grant and beyond. As these partnerships blossom we will be creating more and more internship and career opportunities, not only for EM students, but for students in any field who are interested in environmental management and sustainable development.”
Laverty feels that university-community partnerships that reach across disciplines are key to successfully addressing environmental problems. “We have found that these problems are not in the ‘job description’ of any single agency at the City of Seattle. This mirrors the university, where addressing the most important environmental problem and opportunities requires people to come together across disciplines. We need people from science, policy, business, and other fields with a foundation of solid disciplinary training who are willing to learn how to work with people from other fields.”
Laverty hopes to use the lessons learned in the keystone projects to launch other initiatives related to regional economic vitality and environmental sustainability. “I think UW Bothell is uniquely positioned to make a real contribution in this area. I would like to start a Center for Business, Environment, and Sustainability, and I hope that we can catalyze a larger effort to create business opportunities to make sustainable technologies the basis for regional economic development.”
“The wind power industry in Denmark, a country of 5 million people, has created 25,000 good jobs. We can have similar successes here, but neither business nor government can do it alone. The university can help by bringing together scientists, engineers, policy analysts, and entrepreneurs.”