University of Wisconsin–Madison

Program Overview

UniverCity Year is a year-long partnership between UW-Madison and one community in Wisconsin.

The community partner identifies projects that would benefit from UW-Madison expertise. Faculty from across the university incorporate these projects into their courses with graduate students and upper-level undergraduate students. UniverCity Year staff members provide administrative support to help keep the collaboration running efficiently and effectively. The result is on-the-ground impact and momentum for a community working toward a more sustainable and livable future.

During the 2016-2017 academic year, we partnered with the City of Monona. In the 2017-2018 academic year we are working with the Dane County Board of Supervisors.

We are now meeting with communities interested in partnering with UniverCity Year during the 2018-2019 academic year. Please review our Request for Proposals and contact us to learn more. We would be happy to come to your community to discuss the program with your staff, elected officials, and partner organizations and agencies.

UniverCity Year is a member of the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network (EPIC-N).

How UniverCity Year Works

Frequently asked questions

  • How do I get involved with UniverCity Year?

    Communities interested in applying to UniverCity Year should contact us for more information and to learn about our Request for Proposals process. We are always interested in hearing from faculty and instructional staff about incorporating UniverCity Year projects into their classrooms. Students should watch the website to learn about which courses will be participating in UniverCity Year Dane County in Fall 2017.

  • Why should my community partner with UniverCity Year?

    UniverCity Year partners have access to interdisciplinary experts in cutting-edge sustainability research and practice; receive succinct final reports featuring research, concept plans, designs, and policy recommendations that can energize staff, increase the range of options available, and get “stuck” projects moving; and interact with engaged students who may be candidates for future internships or staff positions.

  • Who can apply to UniverCity Year?

    Partnerships are most commonly led by a city or county in collaboration with community organizations, boards of education, public health agencies, development authorities and others. There is no size restriction for a community partner. We currently work with the City of Monona (~8,000 residents) and will soon begin a partnership with Dane County (~516,000 residents).

  • What is the community's time commitment?

    The community’s program coordinator should expect to spend an average of 10 hours per week on the project. More time is required during the initial phase of the program, and less time is required once the program is under way.

  • How much does UniverCity Year cost?

    That depends on several factors, including the number of projects a community would like to address, the number of courses matched to each project, the availability of grant funds to supplement the partnership, etc. Don’t let cost stand in your way. We encourage you to contact us to discuss your ideas and a potential partnership.

  • What resources does the university provide?

    UniverCity Year staff with expertise in sustainability, project management and communications provide ongoing support throughout the year to ensure high-quality outcomes that meet the partner community’s needs. Support will include matching projects to courses; coordinating university resources; scheduling and facilitating meetings between community staff and faculty; planning large, public events; identifying and coordinating delivery of data and background information; maintaining a partnership website; coordinating media outreach; soliciting feedback from participants; and troubleshooting projects as needed.