2009: The University of Oregon pioneers a radically simple framework called the Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) based around a year-long partnership between a university and a city. The partnership uses existing courses to work on a single city’s self-identified ‘real-world’ sustainability projects and plans.
Projects often combine multiple disciplines to address problems from diverse perspectives. The scale of engagement – typically 400+ students across 10+ disciplines and 20+ courses giving 50,000+ hours of effort to 15-25 city-identified vexing issues – provides a range of benefits. It expedites the adoption of innovative thinking into local government, increases a city’s capacity to move priority projects forward, accelerates adoption of new policy, re-charges city staff toward their public sector work, and trains the next generation workforce in effective, applied, multi-disciplinary approaches toward solving local quality of life issues.
2011: The Oregon creators begin training other universities and communities how to adopt and adapt the framework through a national conference and through site visits and individual technical assistance. Training sessions address methods for utilizing existing courses, engaging students, identifying city challenges, and securing project funding.
2013: With close to zero university-funded budget, the creators successfully train and launch over 25 other university-community programs across the US, primarily through hosting regional workshops.
2014: Universities form the “Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities” Network (EPIC-N) to help launch new EPIC-N programs and facilitate peer to peer learning for continuous improvement.
May 2017: EPIC-N launches its international training effort by hosting a global workshop in Bonn, Germany. The training is co-sponsored by the United Nations, National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency, and the International City/County Managers Association.
November 2017: EPIC-N launched its global regional training program designed to train many universities and cities in a particular global region to launch programs and to establish their own regional EPIC Networks. Designed to be a three year effort from launch to local self-sufficiency, the first regional effort included 11 university-community pairs from many sub-Saharan African countries. The workshop resulted in the launch of EPIC-Africa and many programs now under development. The UN, ICMA, and EPA were key partners for this workshop.
Current: EPIC-N continues to help launch new programs through an annual conference, sponsored regional workshops, and individual site visits and technical assistance. Through 2018, EPIC-N will be seeking investment to properly scale up training efforts and provide support services that help all EPIC programs launch successfully and continually improve.