Kate Gardiner and Keilin Jahnke, members of the Engagement SWATeam, have created a channel for iSEE under the GivePulse University of Illinois channel.
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Key Objective: 7.4 Local Collaborations
The iCAP 2020, objective 7.4 is: “Incorporate sustainability-related problem solving in the GivePulse system for public engagement, and track local collaborations for sustainable solutions. Increase local collaborations by 10% per year from FY22 to FY24.” The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is iSEE. Progress is tracked in the iCAP Portal project page for Local Collaborations through Give Pulse.
A recurring theme throughout our iCAP objectives is the need for outreach that equips as well as informs. We strive to pair each engagement effort with resource-backed infrastructure to facilitate the transition to independent, standalone management. Local collaborations are a perfect example of this, as they rely on cooperation from individuals both in and outside the university.
When considering opportunities for local collaboration, we begin by empowering university members to think critically and creatively about sustainability issues close to home. Fortunately, we have extensive depth and breadth of knowledge right here on campus; for example, faculty members who either possess a working knowledge of local resources or are conducting community-based participatory research.
In addition to university faculty members, we aim to introduce co-curricular sustainability partnerships between students and community groups with an emphasis on developing problem-solving skills and design thinking strategies. These tools are valuable in many situations and are already integrated into undergraduate curricula. We believe that pairing theoretical training with practical, real-world experience strikes the optimal balance for productive collaboration.
The second component to successful local collaboration is identifying a need for resources and logistical support. For example, an opportunity for collaboration might involve overcoming barriers to community food waste composting in Urbana. Requirements for such a project may include researching EPA regulations for implementing a composting program, organizing forums to gather feedback and gauge public interest, running workshops to provide training, obtaining sufficient funding and equipment, and amassing the entrepreneurial experience to see the project through.
We hope to challenge the mindset of, “we don’t have this resource in our community, so it cannot be done.” Whether the result is a sustainable landscaping solution, green infrastructure installation, or public awareness campaign, we want to expedite and encourage as many diverse local collaborations as possible.
This objective’s key metric is the total number of local collaborative projects. We will track our progress through GivePulse, an online platform allowing us to obtain key information regarding which projects are underway, who is participating, and whether each project is successful. In addition to functioning as a database, GivePulse can also match individuals to volunteering opportunities and organizations to interested volunteers, providing many avenues to scale up our impact.