Goal 11: Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Half of humanity—3.5 billion people—live in cities today, and this number will continue to grow. Many cities are more vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters because of their high concentration of people and location, so building urban resilience is crucial to avoid human, social and economic losses. Cities and metropolitan areas are powerhouses of economic growth—contributing about 60 percent of global GDP. However, they also account for about 70 percent of global carbon emissions and over 60 percent of resource use.
Sustainable Development Goal #11 explores the need to build modern, sustainable cities to accommodate a growing population. At the University of Minnesota, we are committed to addressing affordable housing, urban transportation and infrastructure, improving air quality in our cities and involved in advocating for and creating development plans for needed changes in not only our urban centers but throughout our rural communities as well.
RESEARCH AND EXPERTISE
OUTREACH AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
Work with Local Authorities to Address Planning Issues
In 2017, the state’s regional development organizations identified housing as a top learning focus. UMN Extension was recruited to conduct case studies that highlight local solutions to the persistent housing issues confronting smaller communities.
The Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) and researchers at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, collaborated with the Minneapolis Housing Partnership and Housing Justice Center, on a study examining the impact of Section 515 in the Midwest. A series of events on preserving affordable housing in rural MN were also done in 2023.
Founded in 2017, the Institute for Urban and Regional Infrastructure Finance (IURIF) aims to advance research and engagement on strategic issues of infrastructure investment across urban and rural areas.
In collaboration with public-sector, industry, and academic partners, the Center for Transportation Studies shapes transportation systems that are sustainable, serve the needs of all users, support a strong economy, and improve our collective quality of life.
Efforts to Record and Preserve Local Heritage
Established by faculty and students in the Department of American Indian Studies in the College of Liberal Arts, the Ojibwe People's Dictionary is a searchable, talking Ojibwe-English dictionary that features the voices of Ojibwe speakers. The purpose of the Dictionary is to support Ojibwe language education and encourage new speakers among the present generation.
At the heart of the University of Morris campus is a 42-acre historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The district encompasses the former West Central School of Agriculture and Experiment Station, a boarding high school and research facility that opened in 1910. In 2004, the Campus Heritage Program, funded by the Getty Grant Program, developed a preservation plan for the historic district that have been incorporated into the UMM master plan, and will help guide the future renovation and alterations of buildings.
Since 2016, the Mapping Prejudice Project has identified and mapped racial covenants, clauses that were inserted into property deeds to keep people who were not White from buying or occupying homes. The project’s interdisciplinary team of historians, geographers, librarians, digital humanists and community activists, collaborates with community members to expose the history of structural racism and support the work of reparations.
“A Campus Divided: Progressives, Anticommunists, Racism and Antisemitism at the University of Minnesota 1930-1942” began as a project initiated by Professor Riv-Ellen Prell, an anthropologist. Virtually no one at the University knew of the University’s history of surveillance or segregation. A physical exhibit showcasing her team’s findings went on display in 2017 and sparked a broad set of conversations across the University about how to address this history.
The TRUTH Project is a research initiative funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through a grant to Minnesota Transform: A Just University for Just Futures and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council. Its mission is to center relationality and Indigeneity in research and to meet the calls of Indigenous Nations for self-determination and healing. Instead of asking what reconciliation looks like, TRUTH asks, what shape does healing take in the face of irreconcilable harms?
In Late 2022, the Morris Campus Student Association (MCSA) hosted a Sustainability Forum to celebrate the diversity of sustainability activity happening across campus and the community of Morris. Faculty, students, staff, alumni and community members were invited to attend the event and share information about their projects.
Public Access UMN Libraries and Museums
The Kathryn A. Martin Library at UMD offers a number of services including access to guest computers, courtesy borrowing cards for Duluth area residents, and access to several electronic databases, and ways to request materials.
Since 1872, the Bell Museum has brought together science, art, and the environment with a unique Minnesota perspective. Their new, St Paul campus, home opened in 2018 and features a digital planetarium, high-tech exhibits, our famous wildlife dioramas, outdoor learning experiences and more. Members of the public are welcome to visit or participate in dozens of events and educational programs.
Located in the heart of the East Bank, the Weisman Art Museum presents and interprets works of art, offering exhibitions that place art within relevant cultural, social and historical contexts. Several major exhibitions are offered each year, as well as organized letters, symposia, tours and special events. In its 70-year history, the museum has worked with more than fifty departments, presenting the ideas of a great university in multi-disciplinary and widely collaborative projects.
Ebooks Minnesota is an online ebook collection for all Minnesotans. The collection covers a wide variety of subjects for readers of all ages and features content from our state's independent publishers.
The Tweed Museum of Art at UMD has a global collection of more than ten thousand objects spanning eight centuries. Diverse media, such as paintings, photographs, ceramics, prints, cultural objects, and sculpture form the core collections, with digital prints, textiles, and animation and computer media broadening the scope of work.
The Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium at UMD offers live, interactive shows and full-dome theater presentations. From traditional star displays and cultural shows that show the importance of astronomy around the world, to feature presentations that whisk you through the depths of outer space, the planetarium has something for curious stargazers of all ages.
Public Access to Campus-Based Open and Green Spaces
Nestled among the fields and rivers of western Minnesota, the West Central Research and Outreach Center's (WCROC) Horticulture Display Garden at Morris offers an educational and inspirational experience for people of all ages. The gardens are open to the public and feature a wide array of flowers, plants and vegetables in a beautifully landscaped display.
The University of Minnesota Outdoor Events Office serves as an initial point of contact for all groups seeking to have an outdoor event at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities campus. They facilitate the outdoor event permit process and can help provide connections to the applicable policies, permits, and offices to ensure your event is successful.
UMN Crookston's Mall has become the nucleus of the campus. The surrounding buildings provide a sheltered, courtyard-like space. Because of this and its centralized location, the Mall has become a convenient, attractive gathering space. Picnics, concerts, and other outdoor activities are some of the more common events to take place here.
Bagley Nature Area at UMD is 59 acres of forest, pond, and open area right here on the northwest part of campus. This is a wonderful place for running, cross-country skiing, walking, or any other quiet outdoor activity with sections of old growth forest and wildlife galore. The nature area is used extensively for classes related to outdoor and environmental education as well as field sciences.
Public Access to Natural Heritage Landscapes of Cultural Significance
Founded in 1958, The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a 1,200-acre public garden in Chaska, Minnesota, that attracts more than 500,000 visitors per year. Best known for its beautiful display gardens, nationally recognized tree collections, protected natural areas and research activity, the Arboretum is open year round and easy to explore.
The University of Minnesota Old Campus Historic District is a historic district located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1984, it includes a number of historic buildings that were constructed during the late 1800s and early 1900s. It and other areas are highlighted in UMN Libraries campus history map project.
Managed by UMD the Glensheen Mansion is perched on the shore of Lake Superior. It is the most visited historic home in Minnesota. The 12-acre estate features gardens, bridges, and the famous 39-room mansion built with remarkable 20th-century craftsmanship, telling the story of the Duluth region.
Public art of various styles, shapes, and media is part of our everyday lives on the Morris campus. The campus has public art located outside and directly accessible to the community through their integration with our campus landscape.
Artistic Events for the Public
Rooted in the belief that the arts are essential to the human experience, Northrop Auditorium is committed to cultivating intersections between performing arts and education for the benefit of all participants now and for generations to come.
The Voice, Art, and Community: UMN Series features diverse voices through the arts and humanities. Events in this series explore lived experiences and individual perspectives of creators, introducing nuanced conversations that further our understanding of equity, justice, and our public and institutional history.
A collaboration between The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, Northrop, Welcome Week, Multicultural Student Engagement and the School of Music, Amplifying Solidarity offered a series of free outdoor events with the intent to use the arts to lift the voices of people who have been marginalized, to welcome the community, students, faculty, and staff back to campus, and to celebrate our campus community.
Art for All, the Stephanie Evelo Program for Art Inclusion at ICI, promotes the work of artists with disabilities to create more beautiful and inclusive communities.
UMD's Department of Theatre has a variety of public events showcasing the talents of their students and faculty - both theatrical and artistic.
The Weber Music Hall at UMD is a 350-seat concert venue that was designed for changeable acoustics.
Kiehle Auditorium is the among the largest venues and gathering spots on the Crookston campus. A variety of public events take place there throughout the year.
The Humphrey School’s capstone program is one of its principal avenues for academic outreach and service to the broader community. Each year, the school offers approximately 13 different capstone workshop courses and completes approximately 40 different capstone projects in support of community clients from the public and nonprofit sectors.
UMN Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP) connect Greater Minnesota communities to UMN resources through sustainability projects. RSDP brings together local talent and innovation with University knowledge and resources. Projects are supported through 5 community-driven regional boards and statewide focus area staff and community members are always welcome to submit an idea brief for review.
The Liberal Arts Engagement Hub at Pillsbury Hall serves as a catalyst for activities including classes, workshops, training sessions, listening sessions, exhibitions, and lectures. In addition to the specific projects and events hosted and developed in the hub, the space creates a welcoming environment for community members that supports trusting and reciprocal relationships between the college and communities.
The UMN Morris Office of Community Engagement hosts days of service open to both community members and students. The dates and projects vary from year to year, but all projects meet an identified community need and connect to broader university-community partnerships.
The University District Alliance is a partnership of communities, learning institutions, and the City of Minneapolis that works to make the area surrounding the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis one that: capitalizes on its exceptional resources; is vibrant, safe, healthy, and sustainable; and is a preferred place for people of all ages to live, work, learn, visit and make community enhancing investments.
The Hennepin-University Partnership (HUP) is a nationally recognized, jointly funded collaboration between Hennepin County and CURA. HUP catalyzes and supports mutually beneficial partnerships that create positive community change by promoting evaluation and policy analysis work, data analytics, exchanges of academic and practitioner expertise, internship opportunities for UMN students, and learning opportunities for county staff.
Gentrification is a broad challenge that requires action at national, state, and local levels to properly address. In Minnesota the UMN CREATE Team has conducted statewide research and developed a toolkit for residents, government, and developers to address “Green Gentrification”.
CURA’s Resilient Communities Project is a cross-disciplinary program designed to build community capacity to adapt and thrive in the face of changing social, economic, and environmental conditions. In 2022-2023, projects included partnerships with Ramsey and Washington Counties, the Cities of Edina and Bloomington, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the League of Minnesota Cities, and the Metropolitan Council among others.
UMN Morris's Center for Small Towns supports community-engaged faculty research and consulting opportunities that build capacity to better understand rural challenges and make sound decisions to improve rural communities.
EDUCATION AND STUDENTS
UMN POLICIES AND ADMINISTRATION
Campus Transportation and Pedestrian Access
The Twin Cities campus is recognized nationally for bicycle transportation. In fact, University Services’ Parking and Transportation Services has an entire section of its website dedicated to biking —including providing routes and travel times.
Over 40% of undergrads travel the Twin Cities campus on foot. Even during snowy or rainy days, walking is still a great option because of the U’s extensive tunnel and skyway system -- the Gopher Way.
UMD’s Bike-to-Campus Program is coordinated in partnership between the UMD Office of Sustainability, UMD’s Recreational Sports Outdoor Program, UMD Transportation & Parking and the UMD Wellness Program. The ZAP UMD Bike-to-Campus Program has a goal of increasing bike commuting between the campus and the community.
The Crookston campus has identified a few recommended walking routes throughout campus. They've been calculated and range from about a quarter of a mile, to .3 of a mile, all the way to a little over a mile.
In summer 2023, the Morris campus launched a new bike program with partners, including the UMN Systemwide Sustainability Office and UMN Twin Cities Parking and Transportation Services.
University of Minnesota Twin Cities students who pay the Transportation and Safety Fee have unlimited access to the regional transit system in the Twin Cities metro area thanks to the Universal Transit Pass. In 2023, an Employee Transit Pass was added.
Guidelines for Telecommute and Encouragement of Sustainable Commuting Options
The University’s Work. With Flexibility. guide includes campus policies on both where and when work takes place for faculty, staff, and student workers. The overarching policy recognizes the inherent benefits in having flexible work options for employees, the University and students.
The University of Minnesota’s Annual Wellbeing program for staff offers flexible and meaningful ways to help you live a healthy, balanced, and fulfilling life based on your goals and needs. Included in the program, are incentives and opportunities to earn points for biking to work.
In 2023, a new policy was created that allows all University students and benefit-eligible faculty and staff on the Twin Cities campus unlimited access to all transit systems in the Twin Cities metro area. The Employee Transit Pass program provides low-cost, equitable, and accessible transportation for eligible employees and helps the University meet its sustainability goals in support of the Climate Action Plan.
Affordable Housing for Students and Staff
The Office for Student Affairs’ Off Campus Living website provides students with advice, guides and resources to assist them as they navigate living off campus. The site includes information on finding roommates and rental options that can be searched by price as well as location.
As part of the University’s overarching Environmental Health: Food, Water and Sanitation policy, all University owned housing, including residence halls and apartments, must be maintained in compliance with environmental and public health and safety standards.
University Grove consists of 103 single-family homes owned by University faculty and staff situated on land owned by the University. Land was set aside in the 1920s for faculty and staff housing with the idea it would be a great asset in the recruitment and retention of top-flight teachers and administrators.
Building to Sustainable Standards
University Services’ Capital Project Management office is responsible for leading UMN's system-wide capital, space and campus development plans. As part of this work, they have established Sustainable Design Standards for new buildings and upgrades to existing buildings and landscapes in accordance with UMN policy.
The University’s Office of Sustainability “Sustainable Walking Tour Map” highlights several buildings across the Twin Cities campus that have been built, or upgraded, to include sustainable building standards. Highlights include Huntington Bank Stadium LEED certification, 17th Avenue Residence Hall, and the Lot 104 Solar Array.
The Center for Sustainable Building Research's (CSBR) role is to "transform the built environment in ways that provide for the ecological, economic, and social needs of the present without compromising those of the future," and to build eco-literacy in the broader community. Several University projects have utilized the tools and experts at CSBR including ensuring University upgrades and new buildings meet at B3 building standards.