Call for Graduate Student Researchers
The Resilient Communities Project has two opportunities for graduate students interested in enrolling in an independent study to work on a research project with local city staff during the fall 2019 semester.
We are looking for graduate students who are interested in local government policy, issues of community resilience and sustainability, and building research skills to work on projects proposed by our partners, the city of St. Anthony Village and the city of Ramsey.
About the independent study projects
City of St. Anthony Village: Driving towards an Electric Future: Policy & Research for Electric Vehicles
The purpose of this project is to explore the feasibility of electric vehicle and bike (EV) infrastructure within St. Anthony Village. As the number of St. Anthony residents who have purchased EVs continues to rise, City Hall staff receive more frequent inquiries and requests to make EV infrastructure available to support this growing transportation technology.
Our project goal is to become better informed on the research and policy aspects of making EV chargers available to our residents and visitors, either in the near future or in the longer-term. We also hope to gain knowledge of further considerations regarding restrictions and limitations for implementation in a community of this size.
Research questions may include: What are other cities and communities doing to promote or incentivize the use of such infrastructure? Are there common standards generally being used to evaluate matters such as charger location, city vs. user payment for electricity, charger types? What kinds of ordinances have been passed and what is applicable and scalable for St. Anthony Village? How much charger usage would be from local residents vs. residents of other cities who are just passing through? Is there value in serving non-residents by providing electric chargers?
City of Ramsey: Seeking a Sustainable Model to Fund the Maintenance and Reconstruction of Local Roads
The purpose of this project is to develop a sustainable funding method to fund local road maintenance and reconstruction. The City of Ramsey has nearly 180 miles of local roads and in recent years has been using a program that directly assesses property owners for up to 25% of the cost of the street project. The remaining 75% cost of the project is picked-up by the general tax levy in the form of debt service payments to capital improvement bonds, or by other road funding sources such as state aid payments. The high level of accumulating debt for road maintenance and reconstruction has proven not to be sustainable as a long-term solution to this problem.
Research questions may include: How do comparable Minnesota cities fund local road maintenance and reconstruction? What is the impact of road maintenance and reconstruction on the local property tax levy? What level of special assessments are imposed? What other fees or charges (other than taxes and assessments) are used to fund local road maintenance and reconstruction? What are the specifics of this fee, if any, and how is it regulated and controlled? What are the equity considerations of the different types of funding? E.g., what is the relative impact of the funding source to the property valuation? Is there an adverse impact to lower valued properties?
About the process
You will need to identify a faculty member in your academic department who can serve as your faculty adviser for this project, although the Resilient Communities Project can provide some assistance with this process. Past students have typically enrolled in 1-3 credits of independent study for the semester. Your faculty adviser will provide you with course registration instructions to add the independent study to your fall semester course load.
The research questions, timeline, and work products will be scoped accordingly to meet your capacity, interest, and experience as well as the community need.
This is a great opportunity to build your research and technical assistance skills, gain insight into local government agencies, connect with a practitioner, and make a difference in a Minnesota community.
You must be a University of Minnesota graduate student who is able to enroll in a 1-2 credit independent study for the fall 2019 semester. Previous research experience preferred, though not required.
For more information
Read more about the Resilient Communities Project student experience.
Contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire.