Dubuque Selected to Partner with the University of Iowa through its Initiative for Sustainable Communities Program

The Initiative for Sustainable Communities (IISC) at the University of Iowa selected the City of Dubuque as one of two community partners for the 2023-24 academic year. Through this unique partnership, more than 100 faculty and students will collaborate with Dubuque officials to complete 15 community projects, ranging from alternative transportation plans to a new public art sculpture.

Bondurant in Polk County is also an IISC partner city this year. The University of Iowa IISC program has completed partnerships with sixteen communities across the state. This is the second time IISC has partnered with Dubuque, which was progam’s first partner in 2011-13. The city was selected in 2023 based on its in-depth array of projects related to sustainability practices.

“One of the goals in the university’s strategic plan is to expand our impact on local and regional communities, and IISC is excited to return to Dubuque and welcome them as a community partner,” said Travis Kraus, IISC director and associate professor in the UI School of Planning and Public Affairs.

“We are thrilled to be a partner site for this program and have the opportunity to grow our sustainability and resiliency efforts throughout the city,” said City of Dubuque Director of Sustainability Gina Bell.  “We also appreciate the opportunity to grow young Iowa minds as these students learn more about efforts in our community and apply their skills and knowledge.”

Students in the School of Planning and Public Affairs spend the entire academic year working on capstone projects in their partner communities. In Dubuque, the students will undertake two action plans, one focused on alternative transportation and the other on an affordable housing action plan. They will also provide the Carnegie-Stout Public Library with an analysis of best practices for serving neurodivergent patrons and assess the city’s green alleyways program.

Other work that will be done this year by students in the College of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering include a study of pedestrian safety needs on JFK Boulevard and a review of stormwater basin capacity that reflects changing weather patterns. A sculpture made from discarded metal playground equipment will be created by a current University of Iowa art student in partnership with Audubon Elementary School. Graduate students in world languages will evaluate the languages represented by the City’s immigrant population and provide translations for extreme weather events and other health needs.

One of the first events between the city and the university occurs Sept. 18 when three international writers from the UI’s International Writing Program give an evening presentation at the Carnegie-Stout Library. “During this year, we hope to create many different connections between the University of Iowa and our partner communities,” said Kraus.

On Sept. 8, UI students and faculty will visit Dubuque to tour the city and meet the officials who will serve as their specific project partners. Mayor Brad Cavanagh will welcome the group, which will also enjoy lunch at the nonprofit restaurant Convivium.

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