Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities Honors Laurian
Lucie Laurian, associate professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning (URP), received the 2016–17 Annual Faculty Service Award, presented by the Iowa Initiative for Sustainable Communities (IISC). The award is presented to one faculty member each academic year and recognizes the recipient’s commitment to community engagement and the impact of his or her project on students and the partnering community.
Laurian has been involved with IISC since its inception in 2009, when the program originated as an engaged-learning initiative in the School of URP. She has worked on projects throughout Iowa, including Decorah, Dubuque, Sioux City, Mason City, Muscatine, and Cedar Rapids, on topics as diverse as sustainability planning, riverfront development, storm-water management, fiber optics networks, greening a concrete-dominated downtown, and bike and trail plans. Through her work, Laurian supports URP graduate students on yearlong capstone projects, also known as field problems, which help IISC partner communities complete real-world planning projects while enhancing learning and professional development for students.
Past projects for which Laurian served as faculty advisor continue to have an impact on Iowa communities. Most recently, a Greenspace Plan for Sioux City has helped generate a $500,000 private investment for a downtown park, and a Decorah Stormwater Management Plan led to the community’s adoption of a storm-water utility fee to address flooding issues.
Laurian goes above and beyond to assist and support all URP students engaged in IISC projects and enhances projects with her innovation and expertise. Outside of the classroom, Laurian also supports IISC as a strong advocate for the program and for sustainable practices.
“Being part of IISC challenges me to ensure that what students learn is directly useful in practice. Through IISC projects, our students learn to apply their knowledge, skills, and expertise to real and complex situations,” says Laurian. “From a faculty standpoint, being part of this process provides me with an ongoing opportunity to learn about and actively engage in a region and issues I care deeply about. IISC projects also serve Iowa communities well, expanding the local capacity to imagine, explore, adopt, fund, and implement sustainability practices.”
“This award honors faculty who have taken their courses and students into communities with positive results,” says Linda Snetselaar, associate provost for outreach and engagement. “Lucie works closely with students and community partners to ensure that there is reciprocity throughout the project. This award honors her dedication and the extra effort it takes to do an engaged learning course.”