Volunteer works with young students at desk

Academic Community Engagement (ACE)

We believe that advancing the common good extends beyond a single volunteer opportunity and into all aspects of a student's life. That's why we integrate community engagement into the foundation of a St. Thomas education through Common Good Community-Engaged and Common Good Changemaking courses.

We integrate community impact and change-making into the academic life at St. Thomas. It's our goal to foster an environment where St. Thomas students and community organizations join together to build sustainable partnerships and strive to advance the common good together.

Get Involved

Are you a St. Thomas faculty member or a nonprofit organization, school, or government agency interested in exploring a St. Thomas-community partner collaboration? Email us at: ace@stthomas.edu

Students take group photo in front of waterfall

Community-Engaged Courses

Through Common Good Community-engaged courses, St. Thomas students partner with community organizations to understand complex issues and work toward collective solutions. Students contribute by engaging in a collaborative project or activity, or by spending time volunteering on-site.

Courses are offered throughout various programs and disciplines at St. Thomas. They focus on a variety of social challenges from addressing food and housing justice to ensuring equitable access to education to securing environmental sustainability.

Course Experience

Here's a quick look at the community-engaged course experience:

Partner with Community-based Organizations

In partnerships with community organizations, students learn directly from community leaders as they begin to understand systemic social and organizational challenges, all as part of their coursework.

Study Complex Civic and Community Issues

Back in the classroom, students discuss systems, theories, and policies surrounding complex social and organizational challenges. These discussions expose students to diverse viewpoints and build a well-rounded understanding of today’s most pressing social issues.

Explore Collective Solutions

During a community-engaged course experience, students explore the possibilities of how communities and networks can come together to solve problems collectively and create lasting change all for the common good.

Course Spotlights

  • Faith & Ethics: Social Thought

    As part of the Shelter Crew program, students engage with clients at the Catholic Charities Opportunity Center in St. Paul. This is coupled with discussion around their responsibility to know their community and share their gifts, knowledge, and skills.
    Taught by Theology Professor Dr. Bernie Brady

  • Advanced Written Spanish & Culture

    Students visit a farm operated by the Women's Environmental Institute near the Twin Cities. They engage in chores to help get the farm ready for the upcoming season while going deep in exploring sustainability and providing healthy food.
    Taught by Spanish Professor Dr. Paola Ehrmantraut

  • Project Management

    Students work with a community partner representative to create a project management plan for the organization. Partner reps earn a Professional Project Management certificate after completing the course along with the students.
    Taught by Business Professor Dr. Ernie Owens

  • Introduction to Engineering Design

    Students enrolled in this course co-design, along with teachers representing a variety of local schools, and build STEM demos that the teachers will use to help their K-12 students understand various STEM concepts.
    Taught by Engineering Professors

Student presents research

Community-Based Research

Community-based research invites community members to participate in all aspects of the research process. Through this collaborative approach, research can be more equitable and representative, produce results that are more relevant to stakeholders and community members, and contribute to significant social change.

The Center for the Common Good supports faculty, staff, and students in connecting their research to relevant social challenges and community partners with which to collaborate. They often publish their research in leading journals and help make community engagement more effective, ethical, and beneficial for all involved.

Partner with Us

Become a Community Partner

Are you a non-profit organization looking to partner with the Center for the Common Good?