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Traditional towns in the Intermountain West, platted in the late 19th century as railroad shipping or resource extraction centers, are experiencing significant changes as they develop more diverse economies. Small towns often lack adequate resources to address comprehensive planning and design on their own. However, universities, through interdisciplinary outreach and engagement, utilizing service-learning, can offer design, planning, economic development, and other strategies, concepts, and policies to foster sustainable development. This paper addresses the challenges of 1) developing an interdisciplinary organizational structure, 2) establishing positive community-university relationships and, 3) matching academic outcomes to community needs as the institution shifts from faculty-initiated service-learning projects to an interdisciplinary partnership model for outreach and engagement. The theoretical and philosophical dimensions raised by the challenges are illustrated by three community-university partnership case studies in Intermountain West communities.


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
19 Jul 2022
1.34 MB



  • Journal title
    • Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship

  • Volume
    • 4

  • Issue
    • 2

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022