SCYP Partners with City of Salem Sustainable City Year Program, 2023-2024

About the Sustainable City Year Program

The Sustainable City Year Program is an innovative university-community partnership program founded by the Sustainable Cities Institute (SCI) at the University of Oregon in 2009-10. In this unique model, existing courses, faculty, and students from across campus are purposefully directed toward a single Oregon community over an academic year to address vexing issues identified by the community. SCYP and the students, faculty, and communities it partners with are a shining example of Oregon innovation, leadership, and how leveraging resources can contribute to meaningful, additional, and society-wide value.

SCYP is more than just students working on a project for a class. It is creating Oregon’s future workforce, developing a connection with local government and Oregon communities, and generating creative, out of the box ideas by high achieving students and faculty experts. The projects that SCYP works on are prioritized by our partners, which means they are important and relevant. It is difficult to put a limit on SCYP’s potential, just as communities have limitless possibilities to improve the quality of life for their residents, businesses, and visitors.

Financial support provided by the US Department of Education through Congressionally Directed Spending sponsored by Congressman Peter DeFazio and US Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and the City of Salem partnership with the University of Oregon.

Partnering with SCYP

Cities and public agencies apply to partner with SCYP – detailed information about the partnership and application is part of Request for Proposals.

2023-24 Partner

City of Salem

After more than a decade, the Sustainable City Year Program will be returning to the City of Salem for a partnership for the 2023-24 school year. Oregon’s second largest city (179,605; 2022) and State’s capital is located in the heart of the Willamette Valley.

Salem is in the midst of sustained, steady growth. The city has been anticipating and planning for the impacts of climate change, among other important issues. The breadth of classes reflects Salem’s interests in a wide range of topics, with a course underway in summer 2023 and courses in journalism, architecture, geography, planning, and public administration planned for during the 2023-24 school year. Additional courses and disciplines will be added throughout the year as project and course matches are made.

This SCYP and City of Salem partnership is possible in part due to support from U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, as well as former Congressman Peter DeFazio, who secured federal funding for SCYP through Congressionally Directed Spending. With additional funding from the city, the partnership will allow UO students and faculty to study and make recommendations on city-identified projects and issues.


The Role of Artificial Intelligence and Technology for Cities

  • City Partner Lead: Krishna Namburi
  • Class: Green Cities (PPPM 445)
  • Faculty: Ric Stephens

Project Description: While examining the history and future of the interface between urban growth and environmental concerns, and the technological, social, and political forces that continue to shape them, this class will research artificial intelligence and its relationship to cities, sustainable development, urban resiliency, and regenerative design. Students will support a citywide AI learning lab in the fall.

FALL 2023

An Equity Framework for a City Operations Fee

  • City Partner Leads: Josh Eggleston, Alicia Blalock, Courtney Knox Busch
  • Class: Public Budgeting (PPPM 629)
  • Faculty: Rebecca Lewis

Project Description: The City of Salem is interested in examining how to equitably and efficiently structure its operations fee, including how to assess and collect the fee in a way that embeds equity into the fee’s collection. Considerations such as balance among user groups (commercial, industrial, institutional, public, residential) and within residential types (single family, multi-family) will be considered. Students will make recommendations about the structure and collection of the fee, and evaluate whether these methods are considered are equitable, efficient, neutral, productive, certain, and convenient.

FALL 2023

Volunteerism and Civic Engagement – The Next Wave

  • City Partner Lead: Courtney Knox Busch
  • Class: Strategic Planning & Cases (J 453)
  • Faculty: Dean Mundy

Project Description: Salem relies on volunteers, from the mayor and city council to volunteer boards and commissions. Robust volunteer neighborhood associations serve as a gateway to civic engagement and provide a critical connection about land use in neighborhoods. Journalism students will help the City identify what the next wave of volunteers looks like and recommend strategies to engage them now and into the future.

FALL 2023

Walkability and Corridor Assessment

  • City Partner Leads: Dan Brown, Courtney Knox Busch
  • Class: GI Science II (GEO 495/595)
  • Faculty: Nick Kohler

Project Description: Using GIS mapping, students will identify sidewalk or pedestrian-centered area gaps or redundancies, as well as possible connections that could reduce gaps. Students will also survey and assess a selected corridor, which will include an equity and demographic analysis, a network connectivity analysis, and/or a land use analysis, followed by specific recommendations related to the corridor.

FALL 2023

Timber Tectonics

  • City Partner Leads: Robert Romanek, Courtney Knox Busch
  • Class: Timber Tectonics in the Digital Age (ARCH 507)
  • Faculty: Nancy Cheng (UO), Mariapaola Riggio (OSU)

Project Description: Salem’s Highland Park has an unused stage originally intended for small neighborhood performances. Students propose to develop a shading canopy that would be assembled and disassembled seasonally. In partnership with OSU, students would prepare prefabricated modules that would be hooked together with metal fasteners. A temporary installation will be completed around the end of fall term.

FALL 2023

Climate-Centered Public Relations Outreach

  • City Partner Leads: Heather Dimke, Courtney Knox Busch
  • Class: Public Relations Campaigns (J 454)
  • Faculty: Attila Schillinger

Project Description: Students in this course will research, plan, and implement a client-approved communications campaign focused on a priority topic within the city’s 2021 Climate Action Plan. The Climate Action Plan has two main objectives: 1) Reduce greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) and 2) Increase climate resilience (adaptation).


Co-Creating Knowledge in Local News and Civic Engagement

  • City Partner Lead: Courtney Knox Busch
  • Class: Engaged Journalism (J 463/563)
  • Faculty: Andrew DeVigal

Project Description: Information gaps are where misinformation breeds, and accountability goes to die. We aim to address that in Salem as students in this class will co-create a survey and host community listening sessions. The initiative has dual objectives: to enhance local news and civic information's quality and reach and to build stronger, more resilient community bonds. Rooted in the conviction that a well-informed public is essential for a functioning democracy, the project aspires to be a conduit for community-driven solutions and democratic participation.


Spatial Justice Case Studies for Salem's Parks

  • City Partner Lead: Rob Romanek
  • Class: Landscape Architecture Seminar
  • Faculty: Ellee Stapleton

Project Description: Goals in the city's recently updated Parks and Recreation element of the Comprehensive Plan include considering equity when allocating parks funding. Landscape architecture students will review relevant case studies to provide Salem with ideas for how to approach this topic.


Strategic Nonprofit Support in Salem

  • City Partner Lead: Courtney Knox Busch
  • Class: Nonprofit Management Consultancy (PPPM 620, PPPM 688)
  • Faculty: Dyana Mason, Elena Fracchia

Project Description: Various nonprofit organizations support the City of Salem as committee members or volunteers, providing invaluable insight into the needs and interests of residents in the region. Nonprofit management students will help the city by connecting, interviewing, and strategically planning with these nonprofits to continue being vital partners.


Park Assets Condition Assessment

  • City Partner Lead: Robert Romanek
  • Class: Landscape Architecture Design Studio
  • Faculty: Ellee Stapleton

Project Description: Landscape Architecture students will focus on a park assets condition assessment to help the city determine where resources should be directed in the short-term and long-term.


Age Friendly Communities

  • City Partner Leads: Courtney Knox Busch, Marilyn Daily
  • Class: Age Friendly Communities (PPPM 410/510)
  • Faculty: Alex Li

Project Description: As the percentage of people age 60 and over is expected to increase at twice the rate of the entire population by the year 2030, intentional planning will be required to help this group remain healthy and engaged. Students from a variety of disciplines will support Salem in their efforts to make Salem a great place for people of all ages.


Ideas for Enhanced Bicycle Corridor in Salem

  • City Partner Leads: Courtney Knox Busch, Julie Warncke
  • Class: Topics in Bicycle Transportation (PPPM 438/538)
  • Faculty: Marc Schlossberg

Project Description: Students will review, evaluate, and propose recommendations for a variety of active transportation topics such as:

  • Enhanced bikeway corridors. Students will define “enhanced bikeway” and determine critical improvements required to design and locate them in Salem
  • Family-friendly bikeway signage. Students will identify appropriate signage frequency and destinations (schools, cultural/historical facilities?).
  • Bicycle counting program: Student will design a program that provides usable data for the city.


Passive Cooling for City Facilities

  • City Partner Lead: Courtney Knox Busch
  • Class: Passive Cooling
  • Faculty: Alexandra Rempel

Project Description: The city would like help moving its Climate Action Plan actions forward. Of the numerous actions, one idea is to determine what kind of opportunities exist to expand solar use at city-owned facilities (Airport, parking areas, etc.)


Thank you to the City of Salem for the opportunity to be a part of Salem’s future. Special thanks to Courtney Knox Busch, Strategic Initiatives Manager, for serving as the lead contact for project coordination and support. SCYP also acknowledges the Salem City Council, Mayor, and staff.

This SCYP and City of Salem partnership is possible, in part, with support from U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, as well as former Congressman Peter DeFazio, who secured federal funding for SCYP through Congressionally Directed Spending and the US Department of Education. With additional matching funds from the City of Salem, the partnership will allow UO students and faculty to study and make recommendations on city-identified projects and issues.