Smart Communities Initiative



SCI is founded upon the idea that universities and communities should work together to improve the health and vitality of their areas. Through the leveraging of interdisciplinary research and scholarship, community dialogue, human capacity, and innovation, municipal and university partners will collaborate toward the pursuit of smarter, more vibrant communities.

The Smart Communities Initiative (SCI) is an upcoming interdisciplinary program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville which will partner faculty and students across campus with cities, counties, special districts, and other municipal groups to engage in real-world problem solving aimed at increasing the level of economic viability, environmental sustainability, and social integrity of the region. The SCI is loosely modeled after the University of Oregon’s Sustainable City Year Program. Each semester, municipal partners will work with SCI staff to identify relevant projects for service-learning- or internship-based courses.

Projects could take the form of applied research (i.e. an economic feasibility report) or the development of some work product (i.e. a public relations campaign). The SCI program will be housed within the Office of the Provost, and will be managed in the early stages by the office’s designated Campus Coordinator for Service-Learning.

The program will attempt to match each project with one of the following types of courses:

1)      A standard enrollment course specializing in a field of study related to the project. These courses will be taught by a faculty instructor, and typically composed of anywhere from 10-30 students. The courses may be upper-level undergraduate or graduate level, and may be entirely or partially dedicated to the project. This option is most suitable to projects that could benefit from a variety of different ideas and perspectives grounded in disciplinary or interdisciplinary theory, or large projects that need to be divided into subcomponents.

2)      An independent study course in a field of study related to the project. This course format will entail a faculty-recommended upper-level undergraduate or graduate student working under the close supervision of the faculty instructor in the discipline to complete the project. This format is most appropriate for small-scale projects, or to take on a single component of a large project.

3)      A research team of 2-4 faculty-recommended students from one or more relevant disciplines. Students could be upper-level undergraduate or graduate. The course will be entirely dedicated to the project, and will be guided by a faculty instructor in a discipline related to the project. This format is flexible to a range of projects.

The SCI program will be housed within the Office of the Provost, and will be managed in the early stages by the office’s designated Campus Coordinator for Service-Learning.

Find the full-text SCI Program Description here.