While many incredible ideas are created and explored inside St. Thomas’ classrooms, many more possibilities are outside those contained spaces.
It is with that idea in mind that the College of Arts and Sciences created SOLV, “an agile think tank moving beyond the university walls and into the community we serve for the common good.” An interdisciplinary mix of faculty, students and community members come together around real-world problems, working together to develop and implement solutions.
“SOLV is a trifecta. It’s a perfect alignment of the academic pursuit with community partnering and the desire to contribute to the common good,” CAS dean Yohuru Williams said. “Teachers, students and community members are all invested. This is what makes our university so special. And it’s what I love about this place.”
SOLV’s efforts focus on three primary areas:
- Arts and humanities in the public interest
- Health, wellness and sustainability
- Civility and public discourse
Four inaugural projects are exploring a variety of issues, including:
Mindful movement: An evidence-based resistance fall prevention program for older adults: 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 St. Paul 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.
Urban art, landscape and St. Paul community stories: 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: Faculty and students are partnering with community members 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.
Bringing Asmat to the classroom and beyond: educating with the collection of the American Museum of Asmat Art: 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.