Spring 2021 Sustainable Communities Partnership Projects!

March 16, 2021 / By: Sarah Greene, SCP Student Intern

The University of St. Thomas Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) has an exciting line-up of projects this Spring!

Students in courses across a variety disciplines are collaborating with local partners like the Metropolitan Council, Metro Transit, the Walker Art Center, the Caponi Art Park, and the City of Woodbury to work towards a more sustainable future.

To do this, students are applying what they are learning in class to a variety of partner questions including designing digital nature tours, researching urban tree canopies, developing resources for city climate resiliency toolkits, engineering an easily transportable demonstration model for a bus bike rack, and more.

We've highlighted a sample of these spring projects below.  Stay tuned for updates on these and other SCP projects this semester.  

Thank you to the innovative work of Tommies and partners in the community! 


Urban Tree Canopy Plan

The City of Woodbury & ESCI 430: Senior Research Seminar

The City of Woodbury is striving to improve the environment of their community through projects like increasing the urban tree canopy. Urban trees have environmental benefits including improved water and air quality, stormwater management, and reduced heat island effects. Woodbury is in the process of updating their Urban Tree Canopy Plan, and Environmental Science students are joining in on this research.  They will research topics such as changes in Woodbury's urban tree canopy over time and the impacts of the urban tree canopy on carbon sequestration, stormwater runoff, and invasive species.  Students will present their research findings and insights to the City of Woodbury.  Ultimately, students will contribute a section to the City’s updated urban tree canopy plan. 


Factsheets for Climate Resiliency Planning

Metropolitan Council & ENGL 315: Policy Rhetoric/Policy Making

The Metropolitan Council continuously works on developing strategies and plans to empower communities to prepare for the impacts of climate change. Comprehensive planning and problem-solving is essential in combatting environmental issues at the societal level. Based on the innovative work of local communities who are integrating climate resiliency into their planning, students will work collaboratively with the Council to provide guidance and resources for other communities seeking to integrate climate resiliency strategies into their own plans. Through their course work, students will explore the types and roles of rhetoric within civic and political contexts and relate it to their local community as they prepare Factsheets for Climate Resiliency Planning to be included in the Council’s Local Planning Handbook. 



Developing STEAM Engineering Lesson Plans

Walker Art Center & EGED 615: Statics, Materials, and Structures

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is a renowned multidisciplinary center of contemporary art. It strives to engage people of all ages in the experience of art through various education programs and opportunities. The Walker has a diverse collection of online and in-person guided activities that explore a multitude of topics.  Engineering Education students will contribute to the center’s STEAM collection. Students will study the connections between design, art, and engineering, and collaboratively design K-12 lesson plans for the Walker’s pedestrian bridge which employ methods for active-learning. 



Interactive Web Design & Nature Tour for Caponi Art Park

Caponi Art Park & DIMA 358: Writing and Designing for the Web and DIMA 256: Design Concepts in Communication

The Caponi Art Park is a 60-acre natural space embedded with art. It has miles of trails, a sculpture garden, outdoor theater, and open spaces where many activities and performances are held. The park is collaborating with students from two Digital Media Arts courses to add to the park’s selection of guided tours. Students from DIMA 358, a professional website design and writing course, will develop a web-based interactive guide for visitors to learn about the ecology of the park. Students will design web pages linked to QR codes throughout the Caponi Art Park for different natural elements. Students from DIMA 256, a graphic design principles/communication course, will create digital nature brochures to be included in the park's nature tour.



St. Thomas Medicinal Garden

SCP Arts, Sarah Nelson & BIOL 315: Plants, Food, and Medicine

SCP Arts pairs an artist with a class so that students can engage in a collaborative process with the artist to translate their project findings into original artwork.  SCP shares this artwork with the community, bringing to life the project goals for people of all ages.  In this project, Biology students will research different plants’ medicinal properties. In collaboration with the St. Thomas Medicinal Garden and SCP Artist-in-Resdience, Sarah Nelson, students' research will be the basis for an illustrated booklet on the medicinal properties of plants found in the garden.  The illustrated booklet will be shared with the public, bringing to life students' research for people all ages.