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GovLove podcast highlights student led sustainability planning effort

May 5, 2021

For four years, Project Cities has acted as a convener for students and local government leaders to collaborate to tackle real-world sustainability problems and develop professional skills. As we wrap up another successful semester, Project Cities Program Manager Steve Russell and Victoria Caster from the City of Peoria were featured on GovLove, a podcast about local government, to discuss Peoria’s collaboration with ASU to work on the city’s Sustainability Action Plan (SAP). The discussion spans various topics, from the work that students have done with Peoria, as well as other partner communities, to the potential of collaboration with other cities and EPIC-N.

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10 AZ Mayors Unite to Honor Earth Day 2021 and Advance Regional Sustainability Efforts

April 21, 2021

Ten Arizona Mayors pledged to partake in a statewide celebration of Earth Day this April. Their video message, as well as an extensive list of Earth Day events and activities, can be found at In partnership and as participants of ASU’s Sustainable Cities Network (SCN), the Mayors and their respective cities are working to advance local and regional sustainability and resilience measures all year long.

Exciting and creative events are taking place across the state, both virtually and safely in person. In northern Arizona, Flagstaff is hosting virtual engagements through social media videos that highlights an outline for climate change and call to action.

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Peoria Planning and Zoning Commission offers key insights on student project

March 25, 2021

On Thursday, March 18, 2021, PC faculty and students convened with the City of Peoria’s Planning and Zoning Commission to discuss one of the spring 2021 student projects. Project Cities students Leslie Carnie, Raymundo Cabrera, and Patricia Cooley were joined by PC Program Manager Steven Russell, and longtime Project Cities faculty member Meagan Ehlenz, to share with City of Peoria commission members about the Spring 2021 student project, Affordable Housing Study: ADU Strategies, marking the first-time students have been able to speak in person with City staff since the start of COVID-19.

“Engaging in the process and interacting with the Commissioners and City Staff members was very impactful for me as well as the project.  The city-specific data they provided regarding ADU perceptions, preferred uses, and potential pitfalls will be crucial to the successful completion of our report.”

Patricia Cooley, Masters of Urban and Environmental Planning Student

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68 years of local government experience represented at Project Cities’ “Meet Peoria” event

March 1, 2021

On February 24, 2021, ASU Project Cities hosted a somewhat-rescheduled spring semester kickoff event with City of Peoria leadership and Project Cities students. Students had the opportunity to gain insights from a panel of Peoria city leadership, who all turned out to be ASU grads, representing a combined 68 years of local government experience. Peoria City Manager Jeff Tyne and Deputy City Manager Katie Gregory answered questions about public sector professional development and provided valuable insights on the current and future state of housing in Peoria, as well as the importance of community engagement for student projects.

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Students meet Clarkdale leadership to discuss project during spring 2021 kickoff event

February 4, 2021

On January 29, 2021, ASU Project Cities hosted the Clarkdale Kickoff. This virtual event featured a panel discussion with Town leadership about Clarkdale’s values and character, followed by breakout meetings between students and their project leads.  Students were joined by a team of town stakeholders, including: Mayor Robyn Prud’homme-Bauer, Vice Mayor Debbie Hunseder, and Town Manager Tracie Hlavinka.

Students engaged the Clarkdale team in a wide-ranging conversation, starting with collecting insights and contacts for their projects, but also reaching into the panelists’ career trajectory and community values.

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Students demonstrate resilience and success in fall 2020 showcase

December 7, 2020

On December 2, 2020, ASU Project Cities hosted our 7th biannual Student Showcase for the Fall 2020 semester. The event included video slideshow presentations from each student project group as well as Q&A sessions for more in-depth conversations about student’s recommendations for city leadership. The projects spanned a variety of topics, ranging from waste management and communicating during the pandemic, to developing smart towns, and sustainable parks. This transdisciplinary group of students had undergraduates, graduates, or individual capstone students from different backgrounds and educational interests.

This semester, the program supported 12 new projects and 240 students participated. Students partnered with two communities: the City of Peoria and the Town of Clarkdale. A video recording of the event is available on our Youtube channel.

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Expert community panel sessions lend project inspiration

November 14, 2020

On Thursday, October 29th students joined community experts from the City of Peoria and the Town of Clarkdale for two informative panel sessions. The Project Cities team was thrilled to further connect ASU students with city and town leadership to answer questions and gain further insight on this semester’s projects. If you missed the live discussions, check out the recordings below!

City of Peoria Communication Office Panel

Students from classes in sustainability leadership, communication, and engineering interacted with panelists Jennifer Stein, Peoria’s Director of Communications, and Kristina Perez, Peoria’s Marketing and Communications Manager, as well as ASU risk communication scholar, Majia Nadesan. Our community experts lent their professional perspectives on public relations and communication amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Students to present fall 2020 projects in showcase event

September 1, 2020

Project Cities managed twelve new projects for the fall 2020 semester. There are various project topics, including sustainability park planning, P83 revitalization visioning, solid waste management, and a layered approach to Covid-19 response planning. Some projects are being carried on from the past semester, and others are new, or individual capstone applied research projects.

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Call for projects: Project Cities seeks solutions-focused class projects

July 15, 2020

Cities and towns face unprecedented challenges, even moreso now during to the COVID-19 pandemic. The unique issues local government agencies deal with demand a research-backed, multidisciplinary response. Leverage your classroom activity to add a meaningful applied learning experience for students that also makes a difference for local communities.

ASU's Project Cities manages contracts and relationships with city partners, facilitates site visits with stakeholders, offers a small budget and technology resources, and publishes project summary reports. Learn more and see the current project topic list.

Planned and continuing municipal sustainability projects incorporate some component of sustainability; economic, social, environmental, or a combination of the three. Many span multiple semesters and groups of students, allowing projects to take on big-picture, multi-disciplinary challenges. In addition, community partners seek assistance on applied projects centered around COVID-19, that examine local responses to the pandemic.

Project Cities' community partners will consider all ideas. Pitch projects via email to

Virtual showcase recap, spring 2020

May 21, 2020

On April 29, 2020, ASU Project Cities hosted our first-ever entirely virtual Student Showcase for the Spring 2020 semester. Over one hundred attendees appeared on Zoom throughout the day to learn from this semester’s students and discuss their research findings. The event featured multiple virtual “rooms,” including the main stage presentations and their project findings and breakout Q&A sessions. A virtual “lobby” also remained open throughout the day for tech support, a reception, and networking.

The online showcase featured a mix of 74 graduate and undergraduate ASU students with diverse backgrounds and educational interests. This semester, students partnered with two communities: the City of Peoria, and the Town of Clarkdale on six projects. A video recording of the event is available online here.

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What makes a virtual showcase?

April 23, 2020

Our "News" feed is a great way to see how we've celebrated the students in Project Cities' showcase events in the past. This semester we're hosting our first-ever fully virtual showcase event, and we've received a few questions about how we're making the event special while practicing social distancing. Click "read more" to learn what you can expect at this semester's showcase event and catch previews of the project topics.

Event Details:

April 29, 8:30am - 2:30pm

Pre-register for the link to virtual event space

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New summary report released: Aboveground storage tank management

April 17, 2020

The City of Glendale manages approximately 135 Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs). ASTs are necessary components for storing valuable chemical agents for a variety of uses, from water treatment to backup power generation. ASTs must be appropriately maintained to ensure citizen and employee safety, and while there are existing standards and regulations, Glendale experts describe a lack of cohesive standards in the industry. Students in Albert Brown’s ERM 401/501 and EGR 427: Hazardous Waste Management spent their Spring 2019 semester researching AST regulations and standards with the goals of identifying AST best management practices and developing an efficient and effective operations and maintenance program for Glendale to consider applying to their ASTs.

This summary report is unique, as it represents the combined effort of a hybrid, multi-campus course format that brought together ASU students from the Tempe campus, Polytechnic campus, as well as online students simultaneously in a quasi-virtual learning environment. To conduct their research, students attended workshops, conducted site visits, performed literature reviews, and held stakeholder interviews with Glendale representatives. Analysis of the gathered information led to a robust list of both specific and generalizable recommendations, aimed at ensuring maximum safety levels for Glendale’s ASTs and the city staff maintaining them.

All the students’ hard work is now available online. Read the full summary report here.

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Summary of award-winning report released

March 26, 2020

About the project

The City of Apache Junction (the City) has over one hundred mobile home and recreational vehicle parks and subdivisions within its city limits. Many of these parks were built in the 1950s, before the city was officially incorporated, and thus pre-date city code. As a result, many of the parks are now relatively outdated, and in some cases, have significant code violations that pose a safety and health risk to residents. Although the parks are an affordable option for low-income residents, they can be perceived as detrimental to the city’s image, as conditions and amenities can vary significantly from one place to another. Arizona State University’s master capstone student, Maggie Dellow, saw the need to establish a clear path forward for the out-of-code parks, without reducing affordable housing stock in the city. Her recommendations included solutions to define minimum standards and processes that would both allow for economic redevelopment and prevent low-income residents from losing access to housing. The work was recognized by the Arizona Planning Association for Arizona's Best Student Project Award, 2019. The work also received fourth place in the nation for Best Student Project, 2019 at the American Planning Association.

Read the full summary report here.

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Faculty Virtual Open House: ASU Project Cities

March 10, 2020

Register by March 29 to attend the Project Cities Faculty Open House on Thursday, April 9th from 2 to 4 pm. New faculty are needed to support this innovative program with real-world impact!

Project Cities is a unique, ASU-community partnership that connects students and faculty in project-based classes to local community partners, with the goal of advancing the communities' sustainability goals. Attendees will be the first to choose projects with the community partners.

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Peoria kicks off spring semester at City Hall

February 7, 2020

On February 5th, 2020 ASU students, faculty, and city staff met at Peoria City Hall for the spring 2020 kickoff event with Project Cities. In the Council Chambers, Erick Strunk, Deputy City Manager, opened the occasion with a warm welcome and stressed the great value the students’ work promises to bring the city. Jay Davies, Chief of Staff at the City Manager’s office, took over from there, with his memorable Peoria Trivia game, full of unique and unexpected factoids about the area, and questions to test the students on their knowledge of the city’s population, demographics, urban development plans and more. Right as the students were getting ready for group photos, City Manager, Jeff Tyne made a surprise appearance to introduce himself briefly, and thank the students personally for their hard work.

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Clarkdale kick-off event sets the tone for a promising semester

February 3, 2020

Early Friday morning on January 31, 2020, 17 sleepy masters students in PUP 580: Planning Workshop, disembarked from a large gray charter bus to Clarkdale, Arizona. After two hours on the road, the ASU students, with their professors Meagan Ehlenz and Kim Kanuho, headed into the Old Memorial Clubhouse to meet with town leadership for the spring semester Project Cities kick-off. Project Cities’ kickoff events offer an initial opportunity for students and faculty to interact with town staff, set the tone for the semester, and get everyone started off on the right foot. Sipping coffee in the cool, crisp air, the students were eager to gain additional information and perspective for their developing projects. This spring, these students will work with Clarkdale to develop downtown revitalization plans focused on their historic business district and the 89A commercial corridor.

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Project Cities puts student talent on the map

ASU Now | January 14, 2020

Person presenting for project citiesThe city of Apache Junction, Arizona has a complicated relationship with the 125 mobile home and RV parks within its city limits. Some of the parks are well managed and provide an attractive, affordable option for low income residents. But many are deteriorating, unsightly and do not conform to contemporary city codes, presenting a detriment to Apache Junction’s image as it works to attract visitors and boost economic growth.

In an effort to address this, the city partnered with the new-at-the-time Arizona State University program Project Cities, a program launched in 2017 to “connect higher education with local communities, creating a powerful combination of knowledge and know-how.” Apache Junction was the inaugural community partner during the 2017–18 academic year and renewed its partnership through the spring 2019 semester.

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Spring 2020 projects preview

January 10, 2020

Visionary Springtime Projects

Project Cities is proud to kick off a total of five projects with the City of Peoria and the Town of Clarkdale for the spring 2020 semester. Through the Project Cities program, Arizona State University students collaborate with neighboring cities to investigate sustainability challenges in the area and tackle challenging research questions in order to recommend solutions that the city can implement. This applied, project-based learning approach reinforces classroom lessons while also empowering students to give back to the community. This semester’s projects include a water resource management plan, a transit circulator improvement plan, a feasibility assessment of recreation corridor improvement proposals, a sustainability review and a downtown revitalization strategy.

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Another successful semester concludes with Project Cities Student Showcase

December 9, 2019

Project Cities Student ShowcaseOur Fall 2019 semester boasted a robust mix of 7 projects with nine classes of Arizona State University students. The Project Cities (PC) program connects students and faculty from the university with Arizona municipalities to collaborate on developing potential solutions to local sustainability challenges the communities face. This semester, students partnered with three communities: the City of Glendale, City of Peoria, and Town of Clarkdale on seven projects with the help of 150 students across 10 classes.

This semester’s showcase featured the following projects:

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Apache Junction uses Project Cities students’ recommendations for waste management

December 5, 2019

The Project Cities-Apache Junction partnership hit a new milestone in December 2019: For the second time in the two-year partnership, an applied project has seen formal implementation by the city.

An Innovative New Partnership Model

Throughout the course of the collaboration, the Apache Junction partnership worked with 13 unique classes and 213 ASU students from a variety of disciplines on eight different projects. The projects are bounded by the timeline of a semester, but a handful of these projects have continued to see continual success, as city staff has successfully leveraged student work to advance the issues for the community.

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