About SCP Arts


Metro Transit Earth Week Light Rail Installation (JPST 365)

Students partnered with Metro Transit & SCP Artist-in-Residence Sarah Nelson to translate research about the importance of transit in people’s lives into a visual metaphor. Photo by @danemakes

City Lights: Urban Experience (ENGL 203)

ENGL 203 students connected art and storytelling to convey the human experience of climate vulnerability, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Council.

Senior Engineering Design Clinic

Senior Engineering Design Team presented their AirBooth prototype that can produce sound using air itself (Fall 2017).

Pollinator Pathways (BIOL 101 & BIOL 315)

Students co-created interactive activity guides with SCP Artist-in-Residence Sarah Nelson to engage people of all ages to observe pollinators & flowers closely and to ponder their value to society.

Mississippi River Experiences (ENVR 212)

ENVR 212 students collaborated with SCP Artist-in-Residence Sarah Nelson to translate their research about people's experiences of the Mississippi River into artwork, in partnership with the MWMO.


In Spring 2017, inspired by the transformative impacts of collaborative efforts that bridge art and sustainability, the Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) created an arts initiative:  SCP Arts.

Through artist-led workshops in class, SCP Artists-in-Residence and students collaborate to translate students' SCP project findings into original artwork. This interaction of research and art enriches students’ investigation of the project question through critical dialogue with a professional artist. SCP partners share the resulting artwork in their communities and beyond, bringing to life sustainability goals for people of all ages.   See current and upcoming SCP Arts Installations and Exhibits.

The Sustainable Communities Partnership (SCP) develops multi-year partnerships with government and campus partners to integrate community-identified sustainability projects into St. Thomas courses across disciplines. Projects encompass ecological, social, and economic dimensions of interconnected human and ecological well-being. Students engage in real-world research and problem-solving to apply course content to advance partners’ sustainability goals and improve the quality of life in the Twin Cities.


How SCP Arts Works

  • SCP facilitates a project scoping process with SCP partners, SCP Artist-in-Residence, and faculty to collaboratively develop a partner-identified, art-based project that advances partner sustainability goals and enriches course learning objectives.

  • Through arts-based workshops during class, the SCP Artist-in-Residence and students co-envision the project artwork. This process enriches students' investigation and analysis of the project question and communication of project findings.

  • SCP partners share and display the project artwork in their communities and beyond, making findings more accessible to the community and fostering public engagement with their sustainability goals.

Now in its third year, SCP Arts has collaborated with faculty and partners across disciplines through a variety of course-based projects. SCP's 2018-2020 Artist-in-Residence is St. Paul-based artist, Sarah Nelson.

Working with SCP Arts has been an incredible experience both as an artist and as an individual who is passionate about sustainability. Having the opportunity to use my skills to help students communicate research in ways that empower communities is incredibly rewarding. The process generates a final product that can be used by partners to engage communities and that equips students to speak about their findings with those outside of their field of study.

- Sarah Nelson, SCP Artist-in-Residence, 2018-2020



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