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Upper Mississippi Center


The Upper Mississippi Center mobilizes Augustana’s resources to help communities solve sustainability challenges facing urban and rural working landscapes of the Upper Mississippi River. Through this work, the center uses creates learning opportunities where students acquire collective set of knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to solve 21st-century sustainability challenges.

Meet the UMC team

Learn more about UMC director Michael Reisner and his team of researchers.

One objective of the center is to use a transdisciplinary approach to solving complex problems that combines:

  • Interdisciplinary research (broadly defined) that integrates the knowledge & perspectives from the humanities, social sciences, & natural sciences to create new knowledge & perspectives (solutions)
  • Community engagement and authentic collaboration with relevant stakeholders

The center also aims to assist communities in solving the sustainability challenges they are facing and in doing so build enduring relationships between Augustana on the rural and urban communities of the Upper Mississippi region.

Sustainable Working Landscapes Initiative

The Sustainable Working Landscapes Initiative (SWLI) is a year-long partnership between Augustana and a local city. Community partners identify a collection of high-priority projects that build stronger local and regional economies, more vibrant and livable communities, healthier and happier individuals, and a healthier environment. Experienced faculty from a diverse array of disciplines will lead teams of passionate, creative students and tackle community-driven projects within the framework of existing courses.

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This intimate collaboration helps the community partner advance their priority initiatives, while students get experience creating cutting-edge solutions to persistent problems. Expertise is available on all aspects of sustainability (economic opportunities, community livability, public health, environmental health, social justice, etc.) and all stages of efforts (conceptual analysis, planning, designing, implementation, and evaluation). Because these projects are the cities priorities, the ideas, designs, and products students generate have real-world impact by providing the community with fresh ideas to address critical, but unmet community needs.

Learn about our current partnerships with Scott County, Iowa and DeWitt, Iowa.

For more information, please email Rosalie Starenko, Program Manager at

Related projects in higher education

University of Oregon's Sustainable Cities Initiative
Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities' City Labs
University of Minnesota's Resilient Communities Project