UO's sustainable cities program nets award, spurs replication

Nico Larco, co-director of the University of Oregon's Sustainable Cities Initiative, won an award for sustainability leadership along with co-director Marc Schlossberg.

Nico Larco, co-director of the University of Oregon's Sustainable Cities Initiative, won an award for sustainability leadership along with co-director Marc Schlossberg. 

The University of Oregon's Sustainable Cities Initiative won a national award for its program that pairs students with officials from one city for a year to tackle sustainability issues from a planning perspective. The program is also spurring five universities across the country to launch similar efforts.

Earlier this week, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education honored Nico Larco and Marc Schlossberg, co-directors of the program, with the Faculty Sustainability Leadership Award.

"The Sustainable Cities Initiative has tapped into a moment where there is a global realization that sustainability issues are critical and cannot be addressed by any single discipline alone," said Larco, who is an associate professor of architecture at UO, in a press release.

One of the hallmarks of the UO program is that it involves students across multiple disciplines and gets them all working on issues related to sustainability on a city-scale. According to university officials, in the three years since the program was launched, it has included 13 academic departments, 1,300 students and 200,000 hours of effort on more than 40 sustainability-related projects for three cities in Oregon.

After the UO hosted a delegation of universities to discuss the Sustainable Cities Initiative earlier this year, five universities have implemented programs on their own campuses. The University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, Penn State University, Chico State University and the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities are all implementing programs similar to the Sustainable Cities Initiative.

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