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SWLI Presser
Michael Reisner, assistant professor of environmental studies and director of the Upper Mississippi Studies Center, discusses the local partnership at a press conference on campus.

Sustainable Working Landscapes Initiative partners with local communities

Augustana College’s Sustainable Working Landscapes Initiative (SWLI) has expanded its program and will partner with the cities of Davenport, Geneseo, Morrison and Rock Island. Augustana students and faculty will be conducting research and creating solutions for real-life challenges facing each city. This is the third year the college has partnered with local communities.

“The partnership is a win-win for all those involved. It creates learning experiences for students while sharing Augustana’s most valuable assets, its students and faculty, with our local communities to help tackle the challenges facing them,” said Dr. Michael Reisner, the director of the Upper Mississippi Studies Center.

A sample of these projects includes:

  • Developing management recommendations for restoring portions of city parks into “natural areas” to enhance the resilience of the parks, enhance park use, and reduce long term maintenance and operation costs (Rock Island and Morrison)
  • Researching best practices to reduce damage from flooding (Geneseo)
  • Completing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory (Davenport)
  • Conducting a workforce and business diversity study to assess the number of minority-owned contractors in the region to establish goals for a minority hiring ordinance (Rock Island)
  • Using music, theatre and the arts to bridge diverse communities (Rock Island)

Beginning in 2016, the SWLI entered into a two-year partnership with the Scott County Health Department to identify a more preventative approach to solving the lead poisoning health crisis in the county. More than 300 students completed 14 course-based projects spanning 8 areas of study, including accounting, business, economics, geography, public health, psychology and environmental studies.

About Sustainable Working Landscapes Initiative (SWLI)

The SWLI is the centerpiece of the Upper Mississippi Center’s efforts to build cutting-edge learning partnerships that enhance the value of a liberal arts education by solving challenges facing communities. The model creates a transformative partnership between Augustana and a city/county partner, matching existing courses and other learning experiences (independent research, internships, etc.) with community-identified and driven sustainability problems. The SWLI enables cities and counties to achieve their economic, social, and environmental sustainability goals, while allowing students to learn through real-world problem-solving.

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