Wisconsin School of Business students present recommendations on City of Madison’s sustainable development strategies

Professor Yongheng Deng is partnering with the City of Madison with support from the UniverCity Alliance to study and evaluate sustainable strategies and actions within the city’s Imagine Madison comprehensive plan.

“Our goal for this ‘Urban and Regional Economics’ course is to guide the students to take a holistic view of urban and housing economics, understand the social-economic challenges we face through the dynamic interaction between the urban, city, and neighborhoods, and learn how to tackle these problems,” Professor Deng said. “These student group projects allow students to learn from the city and urban space they are studying and living in, and also provide students opportunities to influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of the classroom.”

Students, divided into 18 groups, will report their findings and recommendations on the City of Madison’s sustainable strategies on Wednesday, December 15, 2021 from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the East Atrium of Grainger Hall, located on the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s campus at 975 University Ave., Madison, WI 53706.

Students will be able to gain feedback and advice from those in attendance, including guests from the Madison mayor’s office and visitors from surrounding local governments, neighborhood and village associations and developers interested in sustainable development.

“These are exactly the kinds of partnerships we want to have with the city. Connecting existing courses with the city’s defined interests is a win-win that not only helps us be good neighbors, but a responsive university,” UniverCity Alliance Managing Director Gavin Luter said. “With each project we do like this with the city, we become a more relevant university whose teaching, research, and service are leveraged to make this city the best it can be.”

What students are learning

Students in Urban and Regional Economics 420 course are learning how to analyze urban city and real estate markets. Examples of topics that Professor Deng is teaching in the course include the determinants of real estate values, the location decisions of households and firms, land use, urban growth and agglomeration, real estate pricing, cycles, housing market and policies, and sustainable development.

Throughout the semester, students will also hear from guest speakers in the City of Madison Mayor’s Office and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) on Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s Climate Forward, Housing Forward and Metro Forward plans in addition to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Madison is poised to be a leader in modeling how cities can implement these sustainable development goals. Wisconsin scored number 16 among 50 states, according to the newly released UN SDSN 2021 United States Sustainable Development Report.

Madison focus

Students will analyze sustainable actions and strategies within the City of Madison’s comprehensive plan — called Imagine Madison — which include the areas of land use and transportation; neighborhoods and housing; economy and opportunity; and natural resources. They will connect the elements of the city’s comprehensive plan and its developing performance management framework called Results Madison to the United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. In doing so, students may identify gaps and can recommend next steps to improve the city’s work toward sustainable strategies.

“Students are valued members of the Madison community, and the perspectives and insights they provide through projects like this one are tremendously important for informing the work of the City,” said Jessica Price, City of Madison Sustainability and Resilience Manager said. “By examining the Comprehensive Plan through the lens of the U.N. Sustainability Goals, these student projects can help us better integrate sustainability and resilience into all aspects of our policies, programs, and projects.”

All students, employees and visitors to campus are required to wear masks when inside UW- Madison campus buildings, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.