The Richmond Sustainable Communities Initiative is a year-long partnership between Earlham College and the City of Richmond in 2013-2014. RSCI is a unique way to connect courses at Earlham to city-identified sustainability research projects in the community with benefits for the city and the college. The Sustainability Office and the Center for Integrated Learning will work with interested city departments and courses at Earlham to match projects with an eye towards innovation and sustainability.

Background on the model
The Richmond Sustainable Communities Initiative is modeled after the Sustainable City Year Program at the University of Oregon, which is now in its fifth year. This unique way of building partnerships between colleges and cities to explore sustainability is spreading to programs nation-wide. Earlham faculty members were introduced to the model at a spring 2013 workshop on the Oregon program.

What community benefits are expected in the Richmond pilot year?
Students in many disciplines will generate scores of implementable ideas of benefit to the city, sparking city-wide conversations about what can be possible on a wide range of issues. Students can bring new energy and lots of dedicated time to frequently over-worked city staff and can propose ideas that politicians often can’t. Students will actively engage with citizens and can bring new voices to the table for city governance.

What do we mean by Sustainable Communities?
The Richmond Sustainable Communities Initiative views sustainability in its most broad sense. We look at projects having to do with quality of life, community pride, smart use of resources, participation in city governance, and improved community spaces for attracting and retaining engaged, happy citizens.

The program encourages a wide perspective on sustainability in imagining potential projects and can include everything from public art planning to civic engagement techniques, bicycle transportation planning to municipal code recommendations to park volunteer engagement plans.

What projects have been matched this year?

City Project: Social Media and City Online Identity
Earlham Course: Social Media and Marketing
Students will be creating Strategic Media and Marketing Plans for City use of Social Media.

City Project: Water Treatment Research
Earlham Course: Equilibrium and Analysis
Sanitary department staff will be working with the course professor to develop water testing sites and research projects on nutrient levels in the Whitewater River.

City Project: Farmer's Market Best Practices Research
Earlham Course: Environmental Studies Senior Capstone
Students in the senior capstone course for the Environmental Studies program will be conducting research on best practices for managing and growing farmers markets in cities of similar size to Richmond. They will present their research to the Parks Department to assist the department in determining how and in what ways it should be involved in the Richmond Farmers Market.


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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts, including the sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

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Richmond, Indiana
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