UW News

July 31, 2017

University of Washington’s Livable City Year program completes inaugural partnership with Auburn

UW Sustainability

University of Washington students have been working with city of Auburn staff and community members throughout the past year on a wide range of projects tackling challenges around livability and sustainability in the city.

Livable City Year is continuing in the 2017-2018 year in partnership with the city of Tacoma.

These projects were part of the UW Livable City Year program, which connects one Washington community with UW faculty each year. The faculty incorporate projects identified by that community into their classes, giving their students opportunities to tackle real-world challenges, produce deliverables to a city client and communicate their findings. The partnership with Auburn during the 2016-2017 school year was the program’s first, with more than 160 students working on 17 projects throughout the year.

“This was a tremendous opportunity for our students to partner with residents in Auburn and to put what they’re learning in the classroom to the test out in the world,” UW President Ana Mari Cauce said. “That sort of experiential learning is central to the Husky student experience, and it’s a key part of the UW’s public mission. We greatly appreciate the partnership with the city of Auburn and the entire community, and look forward to seeing the fruits of that partnership continue to blossom.”

Research and work on the projects wrapped up in spring quarter, and the final reports for all of the year’s projects have been delivered to Auburn and are now available online.

Jennifer Otten

Jennifer Otten

“I am inspired by UW’s first Livable City Year with Auburn,” said Jennifer Otten, Livable City Year co-director and assistant professor of environmental and occupational health sciences. “This partnership allowed us to demonstrate the UW’s deep commitment to service and the public good and to engage in ways that meet the real needs of the community. At the same time, our students benefited tremendously through experiential learning.”

The Livable City Year program coordinates student teams from a variety of disciplines who work on projects and programs identified by the community partner. Faculty who led projects for this inaugural year include LCY co-directors Otten and Branden Born of urban design and planning, along with Kyle Crowder, sociology; John Scott Meschke, Amy Hagopian and India Ornelas, public health; Ashley Blazina and Sara Brostrom, environmental studies; Kim Perdue, Foster School of Business; and Richard Conlin, urban design and planning.

The latest batch of projects included a study on preventing food waste in Auburn schools; landscape design of an alleyway into a vibrant public space; a study of Auburn residents’ preparedness for emergencies and disasters, including proposals for improvement; and strategies to establish more healthy food alternatives across Auburn.

Brandon Born

Brandon Born

This initial year was a success thanks to the collaboration, guidance and feedback of Auburn city staff and decision-makers who helped shape the learning experience for UW undergraduate and graduate students. The partnership provided Auburn with research, analysis and recommendations, the result of more than 19,000 hours of student work. The relationship will continue as UW and Auburn assess the program’s lasting impact and benefits to the community.

“The dedication that UW students put toward the partnership with Auburn is beyond compare,” Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus said. “Each project they took on addressed a unique facet of Auburn, and gave us both results and starting points to address needs and improvements in our community. The partnership through the LCY program is one that has built a bridge between Auburn and the University of Washington which will continue long beyond this single year.”

The first year of the Livable City Year program received foundational support from the Association of Washington Cities, the UW’s College of Built Environments and Undergraduate Academic Affairs and collaboration with UW Sustainability and Urban@UW.

Livable City Year is continuing in the 2017-2018 year in partnership with the city of Tacoma. This upcoming partnership will allow the UW to build on Tacoma’s existing relationships and connections with UW Tacoma, expanding those links and identifying new opportunities across all UW campuses and disciplines.

For more information on all of the completed Livable City Year projects with the city of Auburn visit the website.