Livable City Year: One year. One city. Dozens of UW faculty and hundreds of students.
Working together to catalyze livability.

Latest News

University of Washington, City of Tacoma announce Livable City Year partnership for 2017-2018

About Livable City Year

Who is LCY?

The Livable City Year program (LCY) is a new initiative led by faculty directors Branden Born (Urban Design and Planning) and Jennifer Otten (Public Health) that enables local governments to tap into the talents and energy of the University of Washington in order to accomplish critical projects. In collaboration with UW SustainabilityUrban@UW and the Association of Washington Cities, and with foundational support from the College of Built Environments and Undergraduate Academic Affairs, LCY links UW students and faculty with a Washington city or other regional government for an entire academic year, partnering to address the city’s sustainability and livability goals by engaging students and classes across the university.

LCY helps cities reach their goals for livability in an affordable way while providing opportunities for students to learn through real-life problem solving. LCY's Program Manager is Jen Davison of Urban@UW, and the program is based on the University of Oregon's Sustainable City Year Program and is a member of the Educational Partners for Innovation in Communities Network.

What is happening this year?

The UW has partnered with the City of Auburn for the first Livable City Year during the 2016-2017 academic year. You can learn much more about the partnership with this article on UW Today. You can see the projects Livable City Year students and faculty have been working on in the city of Auburn throughout the year on our 2016-2017 projects page.


First University of Washington Livable City Year project reports delivered to the City of Auburn

Livable City Year fall projects wrapping up, winter projects in full force

University of Washington's Livable City Year Program is looking for municipal partners to host the 2017-2018 program

University of Washington and City of Auburn launch first livable city year partnership

How does it work?

For an overview of the model connecting the UW with local governments, watch this video:

Why LCY?

Most cities lack the capacity to fully address sustainability goals. Meanwhile, ideas and human capacity abound within universities. UW is a powerhouse of scholarship on all aspects of urban life, from architecture and engineering to business, public health, art, and beyond, but such knowledge typically has an indirect path to community use. And while many UW faculty engage in community work, it can be isolated, lacking broad impact. By connecting many courses over one academic year to projects that address the partner city’s specific goals, LCY creates synergistic impacts that are difficult for faculty to achieve on their own. It engages hundreds of students in high-priority projects, creating momentum on real-world challenges while enabling students to serve and learn from communities. Partner cities benefit directly from bold and applied ideas that propel fresh thinking, improve livability for residents, and invigorate city staff.

LCY is an opt-in program connecting interested faculty with city-identified challenges, for one city per academic year. We help faculty incorporate the city project’s outcomes into the curriculum, coordinate logistics, and facilitate students’ preparation of deliverables for the city. We work with local media to publicize course successes and host events within the city, celebrating each effort and the larger partnership.

To get involved, contact Branden Born at or Jennifer Otten at

For more information on the idea behind the program, watch this guest lecture from University of Oregon Sustainable City Year Program's Marc Schlossberg: