Sustainable Communities Partnership

Western’s Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) program focuses the energy and ideas of faculty and students upon the issues that cities and counties face as our society transitions to a more sustainable future. SCP partners with one or two communities each academic year, facilitating a program in which many Western courses complete service-learning projects that address problems identified by the partner.

Current Partners: Skagit County and City of Stanwood

In the 2017-2018 academic year, SCP is partnering with Skagit County as well as City of Stanwood. Eight courses and four internships will be engaged in efforts to deal with specific issues faced by the County and City.

Skagit County
  • Rainwater Catchment Design Template: An intern is working fall and winter quarters with Dr. Robert Mitchell, a licensed hydrogeologist, to develop a rainwater catchment template design and guidance materials for homeowners.
  • Setback Reform: During winter quarter, the students in Dr. Tammi Laninga’s course, Land Use Regulations, will research other jurisdictions’ handling of setbacks for private roads and draft changes to a county code
  • Public Opinion Survey: Dr. Grace Wang will work with an intern to execute a public opinion survey designed to understand the true degree of support for various land use policy issues in the County.
  • Clean Samish Initiative: This initiative is an effort to reduce water pollution that results in the closure of shellfish harvest in Samish Bay. In Assessment, Evaluation and Research in Environmental Education, a course taught by Dr. Gene Myers, a student project team will research strategies for motivating and sustaining behavioral change to support this initiative.
  • Locating Septic Systems: By utilizing existing data and reaching out to landowners, an intern will work with Dr. Aquila Flower to identify the existence and location of septic systems around the County.
  • Solid Waste Outreach: Students in Seth Vidana’s fall course, Campus Sustainability Planning Studio, will develop an outreach program and set of recommendations related to recycling in multi-family housing complexes, food waste reduction and/or reusing/recycling of nontraditional items like clothing.
  • Edison Community Plan: Under the guidance of D. Nick Zaferatos and Dr. Tammi Laninga, two courses of students will write a community plan for Edison. The plan will be based on community concerns and current needs.
  • Outreach for Private Land Cleanup: Students in Seth Vidana’s spring course, Campus Sustainability Planning Studio, will work to address the largest code enforcement issue in the County, collections of obsolete machinery, car parts, appliances, and more that accumulate in outdoor spaces. The students will write a report that includes approaches taken elsewhere, recommendations for Skagit County, and outreach materials for use.
City Of Stanwood
  • GIS Tools: A GIS intern will collect and integrate data to develop a web-based data-visualization tool. This tool will allow city staff and the general public to view data relevant for flood planning by parcel/structure.
  • Baseline Knowledge: The students in Dr. Rebekah Paci-Green’s Natural Hazards Planning course will create a website that displays results of a “SafeGrowth Audit” that reveals discrepancies between Stanwood’s Growth Management Act Comprehensive Plan and its Hazard Mitigation Plan.
  • Field Effort: Under the direction of past SCP Coordinator, David Davidson, a field crew of students have used surveyor’s instruments to measure the elevation of the ground floor of every building in West Stanwood. They have also gathered information about the size and type of each building’s foundation and performed some face-to-face interviews.
  • Financial Study: Using data collected by the student field crew, Western’s Center for Economic & Business Research will collaborate with a local contractor to determine a rough cost estimate for flood proofing measures around the City.
  • Analysis of Impacts: Next spring, Disaster Reduction and Emergency Planning Studio students will prepare a written report that assembles all of the above work in a way deemed useful by City of Stanwood staff. The course is taught by Dr. Rebekah Paci-Green.

2016-2017 Partner: City of Edmonds

In the 2016—2017 academic year, SCP partnered with the City of Edmonds, WA. Eleven courses were engaged in efforts to deal with specific issues faced by the City:

  • Ecological Restoration (ESCI 470, fall 2016) recommended methods by which Edmonds can minimize stormwater impacts upon the Edmonds Marsh. Retrieve the report. 
  • Campus Sustainability Planning Studio (ENVS 471, fall 2016) researched the means by which Edmonds might best handle food waste and construction waste. Retrieve the report.  
  • Public Relations Research and Campaigns (JOUR 440, fall 2016) helped Edmonds promote a downtown cultural/arts corridor. Retrieve the report.  
  • Computer Science Capstone (CSCI 491, fall 2016) developed a mobile app that attracts visitors to Edmonds and informs them of attractions and events.
  • Science and Management of Contaminated Sites (ESCI 453 & 454, winter & spring 2017) evaluated environmental risks associated with a land parcel that Edmonds might soon acquire.Retrieve the report.  
  • Recreation Programming (RECR 373, winter 2017) helped Edmonds chart a path toward participation in the “Playful City USA” program, which seeks to promote the health of our nation’s youth. Retrieve the report.  
  • Disaster Reduction and Emergency Planning (ENVS 476, spring 2017) analyzed the impacts of rising sea level on Edmonds.Retrieve the report.  
  • Advanced Spatial Analytics (ENVS 422, spring 2017) used GIS to modernize management of the Edmonds Memorial Cemetery. Retrieve the report.  
  • Greening Business Applications (MGMT 466, spring 2017) helped develop the fledgling Green Business Pledge program in Edmonds. Retrieve the report.  
  • Participatory Action Research (ANTH 454, spring 2017) performed an assessment of walkability within a region adjacent to the Edmonds downtown core.Retrieve the report.  

Edmonds and SCP are partnering pursuant to the terms of an Interlocal Agreement   approved in July 2016.

Next Partner: Selection Process

The process for selecting a partner for the 2018—2019 academic year will begin in January. Use the links below to download a FAQ handout, some examples of possible projects, and the application materials. A timeline of the application process can be seen in the right sidebar.

Development of a successful application involves iterative discussions between your staff and ours. Give us a call…

Download the Program Application Instructions  

Download the SCP FAQ   document.

Download the SCP Project Examples Appendix  


Lindsey MacDonald,
Program Coordinator

Phone: (360)650-3824

Office Hours: 9:00-12:00 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

Application Timeline

December 1st 2018: The application cycle opens
March 1st 2018: Applications due

At any time, please email with inquiries about the process.


The Association of Washington Cities (AWC) has provided invaluable assistance during the launch of Western’s SCP program. AWC provided seed funding, guidance regarding program design, help with promotion of the program, and advice regarding selection of the inaugural partner. Thank you, AWC!