The Sustainable Communities Partnership at the University of St. Thomas is the 2020 Outstanding Program winner! Every year, the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network (EPIC-N) celebrates outstanding contributions by university programs and community partners through the EPIC-N awards.
SCP has cultivated a successful, multi-year partnership with the Metropolitan Council and Metro Transit that has launched multiple projects centered on regional and transit planning. According to the Metropolitan Council, the partnership provided an opportunity to “kick-start” special projects: “Oftentimes we may have projects that require peripheral research, or we may have difficulty allocating staff resources to particular project areas, and SCP allows for sufficient flexibility and collaboration to really move projects and research forward.”
Have you ever wondered where food from The View goes if it doesn’t end up at a serving station? Hannah Wallace, a senior environmental science and biology major, can answer that question.
In the decade since then-President Father Dennis Dease signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) in 2008, nearly every aspect of life on the university campus has been touched in some way by St. Thomas’ commitment to sustainability.
The University of St. Thomas has received a STARS rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System, measures and encourages sustainability in all aspects of higher education.
Juniors Alice Ready and Emma Rinn research how aerial images can best be used to gather data and support the work of the Minnesota Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit that protects ecologically important lands and waters, such as the Weaver Dunes Preserve.
It’s a classic question students pose: How am I going to use this in the real world? Thirty-seven courses that have worked with the St. Thomas Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) are providing students with an answer
St. Thomas engineering students designed a solar powered picnic table for the City of Elk River's Lake Orono Park, a project opportunity developed collaboratively with the Sustainable Communities Partnership and Elk River. KARE 11 interviewed St. Thomas engineering students to learn more about their design!
Drs. Matthew Kim and Monica Hartmann, Department of Economics, have earned the 2017 Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award for their collaboration developing and implementing a sustainability theme in Economics of the Public Sector (ECON337) and Managerial Decision Making (ECON401) courses, respectively. Every year the Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) recognizes a St. Thomas faculty member for innovation and excellence in integrating sustainability into one of their courses.
One of the University of St. Thomas Sustainable Communities Partnership’s (SCP) partners, the city of Elk River, Minnesota, received the 2017 Outstanding City Partner Award from the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) Network. This national award recognizes “one exemplary community partner” from among the local government partners that have worked with EPIC Network programs across the United States during the last five years.
The University of St. Thomas has received the distinctive honor of being named a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U, a global consortium working to inspire a culture of social innovation in higher education. St. Thomas becomes the first in Minnesota and the 40th Changemaker Campus in the consortium.
OSI's Sustainable Communities Partnership is one of the highlighted initiatives in St. Thomas's changemaking culture.
To be eligible for this award, students must have a declared major in environmental studies and have an outstanding record of academic achievement and involvement in environmental activities.
The Sustainability Scholars Grant program supports undergraduate students from any discipline who wish to complete a major research project focused on sustainability. Due 4:30pm on Friday, Februrary 17, 2017.
Through field research and high-level data analysis, 10 freshmen and two CAS professors will attempt to get to the bottom of the plover’s shrinking habitat as part of the Sustainability Learning-Living Community program, now in its second year.
The St. Thomas biology department has partnered with Tiny Footprint Coffee, a local roastery in Minneapolis, to examine ways coffee chaff can be used for sustainability.
Check out this PBS video about Ke Kula Ni'ihau O' Kekaha (KKNOK), a school with which St. Thomas COJO class Hawaii: Multi-Cultural Communcation in Diverse Organizations partners. The St. Thomas course has a SUST designation, and their work with the students is highlighted at 14:40.
When their local, organic creamery, Cedar Summit Farms, closed in early 2015, Kendra Rasmusson ’12 M.B.C. and her husband, Paul, took action. They saw a need for organic food not only in their community of New Prague, Minnesota, but particularly in their own lives – their daughter had recently been diagnosed with epilepsy and, although her medication was providing good seizure control, they wanted to explore other avenues of treatment, including diet. In 2015, they opened Farmhouse Market, an organic market that works directly with local farmers, food producers and natural foods distributors.
The city of Elk River and the University of St. Thomas have developed a partnership.
The two have partnered to advance Elk River’s sustainability goals while developing student problem-solving abilities and innovation through the University of St. Thomas Sustainable Communities Partnership.
Elk River’s Wastewater Treatment Plant is undergoing an upgrade and expansion and was found to be an optimal site for a green roof installation demonstration project. The city submitted a project request to the University of St. Thomas Sustainable Communities Partnership to analyze the cost and benefits of green roof designs. Students, under the direction of professor Chip Small, conducted research on green roof models, roof functions, appropriate plants, costs, and the social, economic and ecological benefits of the individual designs.
Students from specific economics classes visited the city of Delano on May 31 to present their semester long projects that outlined the city’s plan to improve on energy efficiency.
The classes — economics of the public sector and managerial decision-making– are courses integrated with the Sustainable Communities Partnership program through the Office of Sustainability Initiatives.
For the past year, Maria Dahmus has been gathering projects and partners for the university’s Sustainable Communities Partnership pilot program, which links what students are learning in the classroom to questions that local organizations are trying to answer.
John Abraham, Ph.D., a professor of thermal sciences in the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering and the university’s 2016 Professor of the Year, has received a Friend of the Planet Award from the California-based National Center for Science Education.
The University of St. Thomas School of Engineering will begin work this summer on a facility that will be used for teaching as well as researching and testing components used for alternative-energy microgrids.
Institute for Catholicism and Citizenship lecture by Erin Lothes
UST Faculty will read an article on energy ethics and enter into dialogue with Erin Lothes and John Abraham on the topic.
This spring semester, nine CAS faculty from seven departments are integrating city-identified sustainability projects into their existing courses through the Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP). SCP is a pilot initiative in the Center for Global and Local Engagement's Office of Sustainability Initiatives. SCP partners with cities to link St. Thomas courses with local projects that engage students in the real-world application of course material and to advance the cities' sustainability goals.
Check out the full News & Events article here.
7th Annual College of Arts and Sciences
Environmental Stewardship Curriculum Grants
The Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences will sponsor six $1,000 summer grants for CAS faculty to integrate environmental sustainability into their courses.
The purpose of the grants is to facilitate the inclusion of environmental sustainability as a significant feature of courses in a wide variety of disciplines. Adding sustainability in the curriculum has long been a goal in the College of Arts and Sciences, inspired by a priority under Catholic Identity from our previous strategic plan:
The University of St. Thomas will cultivate an ethic of environmental stewardship, and will integrate principles of environmental sustainability across the curriculum and in co-curricular activities in order to educate students to appreciate their roles and obtain tools for leadership and innovation in care for God's Creation.
Indicators of achievement of this priority: Appropriate faculty bodies design ways that students are exposed to environmental stewardship across various academic disciplines, including practical projects that directly benefit the St. Thomas community.
The CAS Environmental Stewardship Curriculum Grants support courses to be offered during the 2016-2017 academic year. Awardees will integrate environmental sustainability into a course by designing new assignments or units for a current course or by developing a new course. For example, awardees may select new readings and design new discussions, activities, or course projects that integrate environmental sustainability into course content. Plans that include Community-Based Learning objectives are particularly encouraged.
All part- and full-time CAS faculty are eligible to apply. Priority will be given to faculty who have not previously received a CAS Environmental Stewardship Curriculum Grant.
Applications must include the following (in no more than 1,000 words):
- Describe what you see as the role of environmental stewardship and sustainability within your academic discipline.
- Propose how you intend to integrate environmental stewardship and sustainability into your course.
- Please include your department’s name in your proposal and indicate whether you have received a CAS Environmental Stewardship Curriculum Grant in the past.
Links to resources for integrating sustainability into your course and to examples of what others have done are available here.
Applications are due 5pm Friday, April 29, 2016. Submit your proposal electronically to the Dean of CAS at email@example.com If you have questions about ways to incorporate sustainability in your courses or about examples of ways that others have done this in the past, Dr. Elise Amel and Dr. Maria Dahmus in the Office of Sustainability Initiatives are willing to provide advice and assistance.
Proposals will be reviewed by an ad hoc committee appointed by the Dean of CAS. If awarded a grant, your completed product (e.g., course syllabus, description of course innovation, hand-outs, references, or other supporting materials) must be submitted electronically to the Dean of CAS upon completion of the course.
"The Church of Pope Francis: Theological and Practical Responses to Laudato Si'," Lecture by Erin Lothes May 4th | 7pm | Woulfe Alumni Hall
Erin Lothes has written about the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace's recently-published Energy, Justice and Peace: A Reflection on Energy in the Current Context of Development and Environmental Protection, and she coordinated the "Discipleship and Sustainability" Interest Group of the Catholic Theological Society of America, resulting in "Catholic Moral Traditions and Energy Ethics for the Twenty-First Century" in Journal of Moral Theology. Her forthcoming book, Inspired Sustainability: Planting Seeds for Action (Orbis April 2016), analyzes the motivations driving environmental advocacy in diverse American congregations."
May 4th | 7pm | Woulfe Alumni Hall
Click here to see more information.
Unique classes like Final Frontier: Mars & Beyond and Dogs!: Environment, Society, and Representation look at old topics in new ways or cover fresh and unusual topics, and can provide benefits to both faculty and students as they cover a wide variety of interests and disciplines. Faculty can share their research and passions, and students can tap into valuable resources in the St. Thomas community and beyond, all while continuing to build strong communication and critical-thinking skills.
Sixty-four students in Dr. Thomas Bushlack’s Christian Theological Tradition classes this semester studied the 184-page document. Laudato Si, Latin for “Praise Be to You,” calls for sweeping change and places most of the blame for climate change on fossil fuels and human activity.
As part of the civic-engagement segment of their class, the students – in groups of four to 10 – visited 11 parish or faith-based groups in the Twin Cities to discuss how the parishes and communities are responding to the pope’s call to care for the environment.
Undergraduate student Patrick Fisher was rewarded a St. Thomas Collaborative Inquiry grant during the spring 2015 semester to research Thomas Aquinas's views on environmental sustainability and the importance of Earth.
Dr. David Kelley, Geography Department, College of Arts and Sciences, attended the 2015 GIS/LIS Consortium annual conference with six geography students. Senior Caitlin Woodard received an Outstanding Student Representative award in the undergraduate student research competition. Kelley also presented a talk: “An Exploration of the Impact of Governor Dayton’s Proposed Shoreland Buffer Initiative on Agricultural Lands in Minnesota.”
Author and activist Geoffrey Saign '77 brings the outdoors into children’s imaginations. Siagn recently published WhipEye, the first in a fantasy series for middlegraders called The WhipEye Chronicles. Saign drew on his own experiences in the wilderness in hopes to inspire his young readers to spend more time outdoors and reap the benefits that nature brings.
Faculty to Present at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's Annual Conference
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s annual conference is expected to draw more than 2,000 attendees.
St. Thomas alumnus Will Steger ’66, ’69 M.A. flipped the switch last week on a renewable energy system that will provide power to his Steger Wilderness Center. Dr. Greg Mowry, a St. Thomas School of Engineering professor, designed the system.
Wesley Joarnt shares his experience in Sustainable Communities Partnership courses during his time at the University of St. Thomas. Wesley, from Stillwater, MN, graduated this Spring 2020 with an Operations and Supply Chain degree. Wesley enjoys working with cars and enjoys time outside whether it be out on a farm or hiking and camping.
"I am a graduating senior of the Class of 2020, and although this may not have been the year that anyone hoped for, some of us were still able to finish off our educational career with one of the most influential programs that college has to offer. I am speaking of the Sustainable Communities Partnership at the University of St. Thomas. Through my 4 years of schooling at St. Thomas I was fortunate enough to be in two different SCP projects with the most recent one concluding this past week. This most recent project was a collaboration with the City of St. Paul and our Service Operations class taught by Matt Larson. We helped them find ways to help fix the inefficiency of idling their fleet vehicles from sedans to bucket trucks. During this project my group and I learned a lot about how much idling can cost when you have hundreds of vehicles doing it for a long period of time and how to find products and operating procedures to help fix it. The reason why SCP is such an amazing program for students is that we are able to help people with real world problems and allows us as students to apply the knowledge we have gained over the years and gain confidence in what we know and how we can apply it. Not only do we learn how to apply the knowledge we have gained over our 4 years at St. Thomas, but it is also a great chance to add this experience to our Resumes. Both this Service Operations class that partnered with the City of St. Paul and my Data Analytics class that partnered with Metro Transit taught me more about how my skills would benefit a future employer of mine than any other class I have ever taken. For this, I am forever grateful for the Sustainable Communities Partnership and their clients for giving us the chance to help make a difference for them."