10-Week Think Tanks

Students at the U. of Oregon, acting as consultants, test ways to help nearby cities. The idea is spreading.

A Service-Learning Project Puts Students in the Consulting Business for Cities 1

Ron Cooper

Rich Margerum (right), head of the department of planning, public policy, and management at the U. of Oregon, talks with a recent graduate student, Mary Adams, on a former railroad bridge remade into a pedestrian path leading to downtown Salem, Ore.

Marc Schlossberg recalls that it all started during a good old faculty gripe session. He and his colleagues—Nico Larco, Robert F. Young, and a couple of other professors—were sitting around at the University of Oregon, airing a familiar set of complaints: How do we get students to pay attention and really care about their work? Why can't that work be more relevant to the world off campus?

At the end of each term, they were grading papers