Drs. Matthew Kim and Monica Hartmann, Department of Economics, have earned the 2017 Curricular Innovation in Sustainability Award for their collaboration developing and implementing a sustainability theme in Economics of the Public Sector (ECON337) and Managerial Decision Making (ECON401) courses, respectively. Every year the Office of Sustainability Initiatives (OSI) recognizes a St. Thomas faculty member for innovation and excellence in integrating sustainability into one of their courses.
Their semester-long project, Analyzing Energy Efficiency Upgrades of Public Infrastructure in Delano, Minnesota, marked the first time that sustainability themes were featured cohesively throughout both courses. Kim and Hartmann developed a series of assignments for students to apply economic theory to real-world issues to advance Delano’s sustainability goals. This project emerged from a partnership between the OSI’s Sustainable Communities Partnership and the city of Delano. It culminated in a formal presentation to the Delano City Council that proposed energy-efficiency upgrades to public infrastructure that were predicted to generate net savings of approximately $854,000 during the decade after implementation.
As stated by the awards committee, Kim and Hartmann’s work is particularly laudable because of the depth of work, level of integration into the curriculum, coordination of student work across two courses and the major deliverables to the city. Students also remarked how the project expanded their understanding of the link between their discipline and sustainability.
“SCP has been essential in showing how our education ties in with the St. Thomas mission," Anna Kate Nolan '17 said. "This project has allowed us to analyze real-world data, collaborate with classmates and present solutions to problems that affect real communities. We are applying skills we have cultivated in the classroom to projects that advance the common good.”
Ashleigh Walter, the Delano liaison for the project, commented on the impact of the students’ efforts.
"The work of the students last spring in the partnership with Delano continues to be put to good use," she said, "A number of the efficiency upgrades that students researched and recommended have been integrated into the city’s capital improvement plan. … The work of the students helped prepare council for these efficiency upgrades, and has helped make way for their implementation."
Faculty can learn more about how to enhance their courses at a May 23 workshop, Enriching Course Content Through Sustainability. Please register by May 17.