|Submission Date||April 3, 2017|
|3.00 / 3.00||
The Smart Communities Initiative connects faculty and students with municipalities across Tennessee to provide support on projects proposed by the towns to increase the level of economic viability, environmental sustainability and social integrity in the region. This is an ongoing program with new projects and partnerships being started each semester.Community groups and municipalities are encouraged to apply to the program with a proposal of the project and an outline of the proposed plan. From there, the students and faculty members work with a community liason to move the project forward. The University contributes student and faculty time and, when applicable, any materials created throughout the course of the partnership, such as a cost-benefit analysis or a green development plan.
The Tennessee Water Resources Research Center, housed within UT’s Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment, seeks to improve regional water quality through community-based projects, outreach, education, training, and community empowerment activities. TN WRRC initiatives have included a half-million dollar watershed improvement plan in Beaver Creek Watershed, a Knox County Adopt-A-Watershed, which has engaged thousands of K–12 students in service-learning for water quality improvement, and state-wide professional development training for several hundred professionals per year. Many student theses and dissertations are written on watershed improvement projects implemented through TN WRRC and its partnering organizations. Community partners include the Nature Conservatory, Knox County Schools, fifteen local watershed organizations, twenty-one local government organizations, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, US Environmental Protection Agency-Region Four, US Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, several county soil conservation districts, Tennessee Valley Authority, the Water Quality Forum, AmeriCorps, homeowners and farmers, and professionals in the stormwater and construction fields. UT partners include the Institute for Agriculture, College of Engineering, and the College of Arts and Sciences. This on-going program has been supporting social equity and ecological health since 1991. Underrepresented groups and vulnerable populations are served and engaged through this partnership. The University of Tennessee provides materials and in-kind support for the program through TNWRRC and ISSE, as no 104b funds are used to support the program.
The center represents a collaborative initiative focused on bringing improved outcomes to farms, forests, and rural communities throughout Tennessee, the Southeast, and the eastern United States. The center supports ecological health and economic prosperity by promoting the advancement of science in grasslands conservation, including forage production, sustainable forest management, biofuels production, wildlife conservation, and economics. This multidisciplinary approach in turn has provided training for scores of graduate students, along with engaged learning opportunities to undergraduates. Community partners include numerous individual landowners, producers, and commercial companies, as well as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, North Carolina’s Wildlife Resources Commission, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the US Forest Service, Joint Fire Science Program, the USDA, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail Unlimited, the University of Kentucky, the University of Arkansas, the University of the Virgin Islands, and Auburn University. UT partners include the Institute of Agriculture, UT Extension; AgResearch; the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR); and CASNR Departments of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries; Plant Sciences; Animal Sciences; and Agricultural and Resource Economics. The University of Tennessee supports CNGM financially by providing a salaried position and through active research support at a number of the Research and Education Centers. The program directly serves underserved low income, rural, ag based communities and is currently in its 11th year of operation.
The Institute for Smart Structures (ISS) is a research center where academia and industry meet. It offers research and development for the building sector and combines the areas of material science, engineering, and architecture to solve immediate problems, as well as provide revolutionary concepts for new applications. Two recent projects, the UT Zero prototype and the Living Light Solar Decathlon House, engaged researchers, engineers, architects, and others to develop, design, and build the home of the future. UT’s Solar Decathlon submission was selected as a finalist in an international competition sponsored by the US Department of Energy and placed eighth in the world. The decathlon project involved faculty members, undergraduate, and graduate students from eight disciplines. Academic, professional, and industry partners have included Metropolia University Helsinki, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Electric Power Research Institute, the Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, Blaine Construction, Alcoa Corporation, Powell Trucking, Clayton Homes, and The Smithsonian Institution. UT partners have included the College of Architecture and Design; College of Engineering’s Departments of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science; College of Arts and Sciences; School of Art; UT Extension; UT Gardens; and UT Martin.
The Appalachia Community Health and Disaster Readiness Projects unites UT faculty and students from the College of Nursing, College of Architecture and Design, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Law Enforcement Innovation Center and community organizations and members in the goal of improving environmental and human health and security in Clay County, Kentucky. Started in 2013, this 3-year collaborative project aims to help the community address key issues like clean water access and sewage management, winter safety awareness, disaster preparedness and flood recovery. UT brings to the table complete funding ($1.5 million) from a federal grant by the US Department of Health and Human Services which the project leader applied for and received. Additionally the project is providing the community with several pieces of material support, such as the design plans for rebuilding the local dam that will be used to seek federal support, support in creating a disaster preparedness plan, a winter health guide and grant writing training, among many other projects. They use a model of engagement based on a social-ecological framework that involves community participation and knowledge-sharing to gather information from community members about what is most needed and engage local organizations, individuals and government in an attempt to make the products of this effort more permanent and ingrained in the community. They hope that their efforts in Clay County will give them proper tools to have a more powerful voice at the policy level to enact permanent change in this community and others like it.
"The Commodities for Communities program was initiated by state agricultural producers who wished to support UT by giving part of their crops instead of money to the UT Foundation. Commodities for Communities allows Tennessee farmers to make a direct transfer of an agricultural commodity such as grain, corn or soybeans to the UT Foundation. The foundation sells the commodities and invests the proceeds back into a community-based UT program of the grower’s choice. Since the program was implemented in the spring of 2013, groups of producers in six counties (Dyer, Crockett, Gibson, Weakley, Fayette and Obion) have pledged their support for UT Extension agriculture programs totaling $1.9 million. Program coordinators with UT anticipate within the next year there will be at least two other county producer groups who will join the list of those pledging support. Community partners for Commodities for Communities include local producers and farm operators from Dyer, Crockett, Gibson, Weakley, Fayette and Obion counties. Grain elevators throughout West Tennessee have been strong supporters of the program by contributing to the program financially and perhaps more importantly, helping to promote the program to producers who utilize their service. University of Tennessee partners include UT Extension, UT Foundation and UT Institute of Agriculture. By investing in UT Extension, local producers invest in themselves as well as future generations of farmers. By supporting UT Extension, Tennessee communities benefit themselves by helping to ensure agriculture programs offered by UT Extension are enhanced into the future. Gifts enable county Extension offices to continue to provide the latest research and educational opportunities offered through UT."
The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE
staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.
The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.