Sustainable Communities Partnership
The Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) collaborates with local and regional government, non-profit, and campus partners to integrate sustainability projects important to communities into St. Thomas courses across disciplines, engaging students in real-world, applied learning and creative problem-solving.
SCP's multi-year partnerships expand partner capacity to address long-standing and emerging sustainability challenges facing our communities while preparing students to be sustainability leaders and collaborators in their future career paths.
SCP projects explore economic, social, and ecological dimensions of interconnected human and environmental well-being in our communities. Founded in 2016, SCP has collaborated on over 150 projects in courses across 27 disciplines with more than 2,000 students.
Through SCP Arts, students across majors collaborate with local artists, writers, and communities to translate SCP project findings into artwork and bring to life community-identified sustainability goals for people of all ages.
Mississippi River Stories
Mississippi River Stories brings to life our diverse experiences of the Mississippi River through the translation of student research into art. The exhibit features a collection of pieces from sixteen artists, each piece inspired by river stories collected by University of St. Thomas students through a collaborative research project with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization and the Natural Heritage Project. We hope this exhibit inspires you to reflect on what the Mississippi River means to you and our community.
Exploring Pollinator Pathways
Exploring Pollinator Pathways invites people of all ages to stop and observe pollinators closely, to learn about their relationships to flowers, and to ponder their value to society. This project, in collaboration with the St. Thomas Pollinator Path, seeks to inspire wonder, joy, and appreciation for the diversity and value of pollinators in the Twin Cities and beyond.
Power of Storytelling for Environmental Justice
The Power of Storytelling for Environmental Justice in Our Communities is a collaboration with Saint Paul Almanac that seeks to uplift voices from communities across Minnesota who have been affected by climate change and environmental injustice and who envision an environmentally just future.
MetroTransit Green Line Installation
This 2019 Earth Day public art installation, in collaboration with MetroTransit, Leadership for Social Justice students, and the College of Arts and Sciences, communicates student research about the importance of transit in people’s lives through art. Students found that transformation was a common theme underlying transit riders' stories and envisioned the metaphor of the monarch butterfly's lifecycle to express their research. Illustrated by SCP Artist-in-Residence, Sarah Nelson.
The Garden Apothecary
This project shares the medicinal properties of plants at the St. Thomas Medicinal Garden through student research paired with illustrations. We hope this project helps you see plants in a new light.
“The City of Elk River was excited to partner with the University of St. Thomas Sustainable Communities Partnership because classes have helped achieve initiatives that we wouldn’t be able to accomplish ourselves for years, if ever. We also get to aid the next generation of university students in gaining real-world expertise. It’s a win-win and we couldn’t be more honored for the opportunity.“
—Kristin Mroz, City of Elk River Environmental Technician & SCP City Partner Lead (2016-2017)
“SCP has been essential in showing how our education ties in with the St. Thomas mission. This project has allowed us to analyze real-world data, collaborate with classmates, and present solutions to problems that affect real communities. We are applying skills we have cultivated in the classroom to projects that advance the common good.”
“SCP allows agencies and communities to propose a diverse range of projects, at various scales and scopes. We often have projects that require exploratory research, or we may have difficulty allocating staff resources to particular project areas. SCP allows for flexibility and collaboration to really move projects and research forward. College students offer fresh insight into our growing understanding of and need for sustainable practices and planning for resilience.”
—Eric Wojchik, Senior Planner, Metropolitan Council & SCP Partner Lead (2017-present)
"This project has been an amazing experience. It has been an eye-opening experience because we were no longer dealing with hypothetical firms and businesses on exams that don’t exist. Instead, we find ourselves working with real-life people in real-life situations where decisions and findings make an impact.”
“Many of the student projects result in a tangible plan or product that can be immediately used, which is great for the community and really satisfying for the students, who get to see their ideas come to life and make a real impact.”
—Michael Healy, City of Big Lake, City Planner & SCP Partner Lead (2017-2018)
“I got a lot more out of the class than I expected. Career advice, community networking, and learning how people actually go out and survey areas to figure out how to make positive changes….It also helped me get a job.”