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Moving the Cities

With busy and changing cities come challenges in our communities. This is where we live and where innovation must play a role. The Moving the Cities project aims to bridge the gap between universities and industry through technology, science, entrepreneurship, innovation, and society. Teams comprised of students from more than 4 countries including Germany, Brazil, England, and the United States work together to address regional sustainability challenges through an international lens.


Students from all five University of Minnesota campuses have the opportunity to participate in taking action to solve worldwide challenges in our cities by traveling to Brazil in this one-week fast-paced program. In 2023 and 2022, two University of Minnesota students were part of winning teams. In 2021, three students from the University of Minnesota were part of winning teams

The program is hosted by SAP and the renowned Brazilian university Unisinos in Sao Leopoldo, Brazil.

The Challenge

Students form multinational teams that will work together on challenges related to sustainable cities. They will have one week to create a solution to address their challenge. Multi-disciplinary teams will work to design a solution, create a business plan, organize a pitch deck of slides, and prepare a pitch presentation. During the week, students work with experts and coaches from around the world to develop their ideas through activities, team mentoring, and online sessions. The concept should be region based and transferable to other regions. At the end of the week, the teams will pitch their proposal to the international jury. 

A slideshow outlining what one might expect in 2024 will be posted on this page once it is available. To view slideshows from years past, please visit the Media page of the site.

Key Outcomes for Participating Students

As a student participant, you will:

  • Address key societal issues in cities worldwide in a diverse multinational team

  • Receive professional feedback from global industry experts

  • Create relationships that open the door to potential international internships

  • Meet students from around the world

  • Explore the country and culture of Brazil

  • Become part of a professional network with international leaders

Our Goals

At The Institute on the Environment (IonE), we believe in leading the way toward a future in which people and the environment prosper together. Everyone plays a role in creating a sustainable circular economy. Every discipline matters. Moving the Cities promotes new ideas and inspires a new generation to become leaders in sustainability thinking. The program embraces the United Nations' Sustainable Development goals. We are proud to offer this fulfilling international experience.


If you would like to learn more about IonE, please visit

2024 UMN Moving-the-Cities (MtC) Mentors and Coaches

This list is being updated continuously.


Beth Mercer-Taylor, JD, is the sustainability education co-director at the University of Minnesota, where she administers the Sustainability Studies Minor. Beth has helped to implement the GreenStep Cities program in Minnesota and many campus sustainability programs.

Aaron Hanson, MS, is the Energy Program Specialist for Leadership and Education at the University of Minnesota, where he manages the UMN Clean Energy Leaders and Sustainability Corps programs. Aaron also teaches courses in building science and systems thinking for environmental sustainability and coordinates interdisciplinary energy transition research projects. 

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