History of CURA
In keeping with the University of Minnesota’s land-grant mission, CURA was established by the Board of Regents in 1968 to strengthen the involvement of the University in addressing the pressing “urban crisis” of the time. Although the social and political upheaval of that period have long since passed, most of the issues raised so dramatically then are still with us today: protecting and enhancing the vitality of all parts of the state’s economy; understanding the challenges and implications of population and demographic change; providing energy, education, housing, clean air and water, social and human services, public safety, and recreation for Minnesota’s communities; and understanding how we use our land and natural resources, how our communities develop, and how citizens can participate more effectively in the decisions affecting their lives.
In creating CURA, the University’s Board of Regents and President made manifest their philosophy that urban and regional issues are inextricably linked, and CURA has maintained that perspective throughout its 40+ years of existence. Even a casual review of our recent projects and programs illustrates CURA’s central role in connecting the University of Minnesota with people, organizations, and communities throughout the state—from large cities, suburbs, and regional centers to small towns and rural areas.
In the years since it was established, CURA has worked across disciplinary boundaries and leveraged resources to tackle complex public policy issues facing Minnesota. CURA’s many accomplishments include:
- pioneering the development of geographic information systems technology and creation of the Minnesota Land Management Information Center
- supporting research that resulted in passage of the Minnesota Shoreland Management Act of 1969, the Minnesota Ground Water Protection Act of 1989, the Fertilizer, Soil Amendment, and Plant Amendment Law of 1995, and nationwide legislation during the 1990s on establishing paternity for children of unmarried parents
- helping to launch the Minnesota Government Training Service Program, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, the Minnesota Housing Partnership, ArtSpace, and Centro Campesino
- evaluating the impact of the Hollman v. Cisneros consent decree to deconcentrate poverty in public housing and Section 8 programs in Minneapolis
- funding research to identify low-cost methods for reducing toxic arsenic levels in Minnesota’s public well-water supplies
Today, CURA is a nationally recognized center that attracts funding from federal, state, local, and private-sector sponsors to support its diverse research, outreach, and technical assistance activities. On the national level, CURA is a member of the Urban Affairs Association, and was one of the organization's earliest institutional members. CURA continues to serve as a major resource and facilitator at the University of Minnesota, helping talented researchers develop new knowledge about public policy issues, and then share and disseminate that knowledge. Ultimately, this knowledge improves public policy decision making, resulting in smarter investments, stronger communities, and a higher quality of life for Minnesota and the nation.