Through the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities (IISC), University of Iowa professors and students help Decorah and other Iowa communities build sustainability by addressing economic, environmental and socio-cultural issues.

The IISC will continue its sustainability work in Decorah/Winneshiek County during the 2014-15 academic year. Project details will be announced early this summer.

UI graduate students in Urban and Regional Planning completed sustainability projects in Decorah during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 academic years.

“While Decorah has worked with students and leaders from this program in the past, we look forward to this renewed partnership because of the value of the work product the students bring from their academic environment,” Decorah City Manager Chad Bird said. “We believe the students bring a fresh perspective to Decorah's projects and offer keen insight into solving our issues in a positive and energetic way.”



The IISC is a campus-wide initiative funded through the Better Futures for Iowans grant from the University of Iowa Office of the Provost and is supported by the UI Office of Outreach and Engagement.

“I am honored to be a part of the IISC and its work to foster collaboration with communities who are offering their ideas for engaged student learning,” said Linda Snetselaar, UI Associate Provost of Outreach and Engagement. “Our goal is to participate at the very highest level in meeting the needs of our community partners while offering University expertise that coincides with the wishes of our Iowa citizens in Decorah.”

The Decorah and Winneshiek County project proposals carry multiple levels of importance.

“We’re excited about the combination of regional, county and city projects,” IISC Program Coordinator Nick Benson said. “The partnership will have a really nice impact on multiple levels.”

Students likely will be working on an economic impact study of the frac sand mining industry, a trail routing and economic impact study of a regional “Backbone Trail,” an economic impact study of recreational trails in Winneshiek County, a storm water utility analysis and updating building, energy and planning and zoning codes.

“Some of the studies will have long-lasting influence on public health, public safety and quality of life for residents in Winneshiek County and its municipalities,” said Dean Thompson, Winneshiek County supervisor and community coordinator for the IISC project.