Really big ideas can't be constrained inside four walls. They need room to roam.
In this spirit of boundlessness, innovation and transformation, the University of St. Thomas College of Arts and Sciences has created SOLV. It's an agile think tank moving beyond university walls into the community we serve for the common good.
SOLV is comprised of an interdisciplinary mix of big thinkers, professors, students and community members working together to SOLV real-world problems wherever they exist. We go where our critical and creative thinking skills are needed most.
Our collaborative efforts center around three primary focus areas where we can make an impact:
This Arts and Humanities in the Public Interest focus area provides opportunities and resources for faculty and students to pursue applied research projects demonstrating how the arts and humanities create new ideas, concepts and designs improving culture, society and productivity while driving innovation. Problems and projects matching arts and humanities faculty and students with the natural sciences, social sciences, business, entrepreneurship and engineering are especially welcome, as well as projects in the digital humanities making the arts, literature and history available to the public in various contexts.
The Health, Wellness and Sustainability focus area addresses questions and issues of human and environmental health. This includes, but is not limited to, issues of global warming, sustainability, energy, public health, mindfulness and environmental justice. This focus area will provide opportunities and resources for faculty and students to collaborate on innovative curriculum ideations, and conduct applied research across disciplines focusing on connections between human and environmental health. Proposals matching students with faculty and/or community projects and initiatives will be encouraged.
The Civility and Public Discourse focus area is dedicated to repairing and creating new pathways for civil discourse through faculty and student applied research, community-based research, public lectures and forums, and the support of scholarship fostering conversation around critical questions of civil engagement and civic participation. Priority will be given to interdisciplinary research projects elevating civic-mindedness and promoting civic responsibility consistent with the values of civility and reasoned debate within the Catholic intellectual tradition. This focus area also provides a space for the community to respond to current events.
SOLV also gives students the opportunity to jump into the real world and learn by doing. SOLV brings the classroom into the community, making the learning experience truly engaging.
Our inaugural projects in the SOLV Initiative explore a variety of issues, such as the impact of sustainable literacy and variables impacting women's self-efficacy toward civic leadership.
Urban Art, Landscape, and St. Paul Community Stories
Focus area: Arts and the Humanities in the Public Interest
Students and faculty are collaborating with St. Paul community artists to explore connections between urban art and community identity in the Midway neighborhood, which is struggling to balance economic development with the disruptions of gentrification. Throughout this project, the team is creating multimedia stories highlighting Midway's urban art.
Investigating the Impact of Innovative Pedagogies on Sustainability Literacy
Focus area: Health, Wellness and Sustainability
There is an urgent need for communities to rethink their approach to sustainability. Faculty and students are partnering with community partners to create novel forms of engagement teaching people about the importance of sustainability. Students and faculty will then examine how these engagement strategies impact sustainability literacy in the classroom and community.
Closing the Gender Gap: Examining Factors and Processes Impacting Women's Self-Efficacy Toward Civic Leadership
Focus area: Civility and Public Discourse
Despite the fact that women comprise more than 50 percent of the U.S. population and earn the majority of university degrees, they remain disproportionately underrepresented in leadership positions. Students will collaborate with faculty and women's empowerment organizations to cultivate civic-mindedness while assessing factors influencing women's self-efficacy.
Bringing Asmat to the Classroom and Beyond: Educating with the Collection of the American Museum of Asmat Art
Focus area: Arts and Humanities in the Public Interest
In collaboration with St. Peter Claver Catholic School and other St.Paul-area schools, St. Thomas faculty and students are developing and providing innovative educational resources to teachers with various objects from the American Museum of Asmat Art. By directly engaging students with these objects, they will examine important topics such as the ecological challenges facing the Asmat and how they express their cultural identity through these pieces of art.
Mindful Movement: An Evidence-Based Resistance Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults
Focus area: Health, Wellness and Sustainability
Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. The Department of Health and Exercise Science is teaming up with the YWCA to develop a cost-effective and evidence-based fall prevention program for its members and the community. This project supports the YWCA by providing education and increased community awareness in St. Paul about fall prevention.