City Council partners with UI’s semester theme of environmental sustainability



Iowa City City Council member Rockne Cole reads a proclamation in support of the University of Iowa’s Theme Semester. This semester’s theme is “Climate of Change.” (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Maria Kuiper, [email protected]

The Iowa City City Council recognized the University of Iowa theme semester as the “Climate for Change” at Tuesday night’s meeting. This semester will focus on environmental sustainability in the university as well as in the community.

A pamphlet issued by the city stated that the theme of sustainability fits well with the determination of the city councilors of “acknowledging and celebrating the various historical factors that have shaped current human use along the river, respond creatively to challenges and opportunities in specific locations along the river, adapt to changes in the region’s climate by making the areas adjacent to the river more resilient to future flooding, and use the river as a catalyst for future community and economic development that exemplify and fulfill the sustainability values.”

UI Associate Provost for Outreach and Engagement Linda Snetselaar said she thinks students learn best when actively involved in projects.

“Something like this is incredibly important to critical thinking and is also very important to eventually applying for and working in jobs that will allow them to look at various sides to an issue,” Snetselaar said. “Being involved in the community is one of the greatest learning experiences we can offer our students.”

Snetselaar also said it is a “total win-win” for both the university and Iowa City and that UI President Bruce Harreld is “totally behind it.”

David Gould, the program manager of the theme semester, agrees with Snetselaar.

“I spent 30 years living in these two communities, the university and Iowa City, and to collaborate on something that is meaningful for all of us is a very noble pursuit, so I am very, very grateful for this,” Gould said.

So far, there are 16 activities on the Climate for Change timeline including workshops and presentations, Meatless Monday in the dining halls, a guided tour of a woodland-restoration property, and a fashion festival.

Assistant City Manager Ashley Monroe said this year follows the pattern of semester themes that have positive effects on society. The idea for theme semesters arose in 2014, and past semesters have centered on social justice, online connectivity, and others.

All theme semesters have four goals, the theme semester website states: promoting attention to the theme as a crucial field of study across all of the University of Iowa colleges; building relationships among groups and individuals; engaging Iowans in a semester-long conversation concentrating on the topic; and securing initiatives from the semester to benefit future generations.

The spring 2016 theme “Just Living” had 30 activities for the theme, 466 related activities tagged on the University of Iowa events calendar, and 96 courses with connection to the theme.

The City Council and UI both recognize that “the actions taken will simultaneously produce and sustain a healthy environment, ensure economic vitality, and enable that vitality to be shared equitably,” as stated in the joint declaration.

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