Interested in Integrating an SCP Project into Your Course?

by Maria Dahmus, OSI Assistant Director


Cities often face limited resources to investigate and solve emerging sustainability issues. St. Thomas students seek real-world application of course content to prepare for the complexity of systems-level problem-solving after they graduate. Faculty strive to integrate experiential learning into their courses to enrich their teaching.  Bring these pieces together—and cities, students, and faculty have a mutually beneficial collaborative partnership! 

The Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) develops long-term partnerships with cities and government entities to advance their sustainability goals by linking city-identified projects with existing courses.  Through an SCP partnership, cities move forward with innovative approaches and solutions to a set of interconnected sustainability projects.  Students develop applied problem-solving skills and build relationships with leaders in the Twin Cities, learning first-hand what they can do with their field of study after they graduate.  And, SCP reduces barriers for faculty to integrate real-world projects into courses through our long-term relationships with our city partners and project scoping process, setting the stage for experiential learning that not only meets but enhances course objectives and student learning.  (Learn about past and current projects, and watch our short project films.)

Every discipline offers a unique perspective to understanding and a unique contribution to solving our emerging sustainability issues. Since its launch in Spring 2016, SCP has integrated 40 projects into 37 courses across 18 disciplines and programs (Biology, Business, Communication and Journalism, Computer Science, Economics, undergraduate and graduate English, Engineering, Engineering Education and Teacher Education, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Geography, History, Modern and Classical Languages, Public Policy, Psychology, Social Work, and Theology).  We are so thankful and appreciative of faculty for collaborating with us!

At the end of this semester, we will wrap up our partnership with the City of Elk River.  We would like to thank Elk River for their exceptional partnership.  Elk River has been integral to the successful creation and establishment of our program.  At the same time, St. Thomas students have enabled Elk River to move forward with their sustainability goals.  As our city partner liaison, Elk River’s Environmental Technician Kristin Mroz, notes,

“Elk River was excited to partner with the University of St. Thomas Sustainable Communities Partnership because classes have helped achieve some initiatives that we wouldn’t be able to accomplish ourselves for years, if ever. Not only does the city gain valuable data and practical applications, but 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.”

Read Kristin Mroz’s article in our newsletter to discover how Elk River is using students’ work this year!

We are excited to announce our new partners for the upcoming 2017-2018 academic year, the City of Big Lake and the Metropolitan Council.  We are pleased to continue our partnership with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, the Freshwater Society’s Master Water Stewards program, and Tiny Footprint Coffee. We are also excited to announce our partnership with the University of St. Thomas Department of Biology's Greenhouses on a sustainable landscaping initiative to continue to add educational value to the pollinator pathways on campus! Learn more about our partners here.

If you are interested in integrating an SCP project into one of your courses, please email Maria Dahmus to discuss potential projects. We adapt projects to maximize opportunities for course participation while ensuring the project advances our partners’ sustainability goals.  Learn more about the project scoping process here.

Please join us for the SCP Open House and Happy Hour on Friday, March 31, 3-4:30pm in LIB 108! Meet our partners, check out available projects for the upcoming 2017-2018 academic year, and learn more about integrating a project into your course! Details here.

If you have any questions about SCP, please don’t hesitate to contact Maria Dahmus