Communities across Minnesota are constantly evolving in response to their unique local challenges and opportunities.The Resilient Communities Project (RCP) is a highly successful, cross-disciplinary program at the University of Minnesota designed to build community capacity to survive, adapt, and thrive in the face of changing social, economic, and environmental conditions. Our mission is to connect local government agencies in Minnesota with U of M students and faculty to advance community resilience and student learning through collaborative, course-based projects.
Each year, RCP selects a partner community (typically a city or county) through a competitive request-for-proposals process to embark on a 15- to 18-month partnership with the U of MN. Working with local government staff and community stakeholders in the selected partner community, RCP helps to identify 10–25 projects designed to build community resilience around locally identified environmental, social, economic, and livability issues and needs. RCP strategically connects each project with graduate and professional courses and students at the University of Minnesota who can provide research or technical assistance to drive change—by bringing innovative ideas and solutions to the table, gathering and analyzing local data, sparking community discussions, and facilitating new collaborations.
Students participate in RCP by enrolling in an RCP-affiliated course, or by connecting an individual thesis, capstone, field experience, or directed study to an RCP project. The program offers students opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills to real community problems and issues, as well as to engage with students in other fields of study.Local government staff and community stakeholders work closely with faculty and students to provide local knowledge and deeper insight into the issues, ensuring projects are not only innovative, but also relevant to the community context.
Outcomes from each University course are documented in a final report and presentation at the conclusion of the semester. Project results are shared with the partner community, and disseminated through the RCP website for use by other communities in Minnesota.
RCP is a program of the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) at the University of Minnesota, and is a cofounding member of the national Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) Network. RCP was begun as an initiative of the Graduate Sustainability Education Network at the University of Minnesota, and received initial support from a two-year Discovery Grant from the University's Institute on the Environment.