Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 70.12
Liaison Amir Nadav
Submission Date March 5, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of St. Thomas
AC-10: Support for Sustainability Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 4.00 / 4.00 Elise Amel
Faculty Director
Office of Sustainability Initiatives
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the student sustainability research program:

The Sustainability Scholars Grant program, initiated in the spring of 2017, draws from a dedicated pool of $50,000 each year to support undergraduate students from any discipline who wish to complete a major research project focused on sustainability. Awardees are undergraduate students at the University of St. Thomas who are interested in spending an entire summer working full time (40 hours per week for 10 weeks, or 400 hours total during the grant period) with two mentors on a significant research project or creative activity. These grants are designed to give students the time and resources they need for meaningful reflection and in-depth inquiry into a sustainability-related problem, issue, or solution of interest both to them and their mentors.

Sustainability Scholars Grant projects focus on the long-term environmental, social, economic, and/or justice aspects of stewardship and sustainability, and are guided by two mentors from different fields of expertise, at least one of which is a St. Thomas faculty member.

The goal of this program is to support research collaborations that address long-term environmental sustainability and stewardship by examining the interconnections between human and environmental well-being, broadly defined to include ecological, social, economic, and justice lenses. Every discipline can play a role in the long-term viability of the human-environment relationship.

Incentives include a paid stipend to students of $5000, a one-time stipend of $500 for each mentor, presentation opportunities, and opportunities for additional travel funding to conduct or present research.

Does the institution have a program to encourage academic staff from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct sustainability research?:

A brief description of the faculty sustainability research program:

The University of St. Thomas College of Arts and Sciences created the SOLV Initiative, an agile think tank that moves beyond university walls into the community we serve for the common good. In the first year, the SOLV Initiative supported five inaugural projects that involve faculty, student, and community partner collaborations, in addition to the Awakenings program, an extension of the SOLV Initiative with a global focus for students returning from the fall Empower program at the Bernardi campus.

The SOLV Initiative supported $150,000 worth of interdisciplinary research grants during each academic year including 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. The SOLV Initiative's focus areas include:

Arts and Humanities in the Public Interest. The Arts and Humanities in the Public Interest focus area provides opportunities and resources for faculty and students to pursue applied research projects demonstrating how the arts and humanities create new ideas, concepts and designs to improve culture, society and productivity while driving innovation. Problems and projects matching arts & humanities faculty and students with the natural sciences, social sciences, business, entrepreneurship and engineering are especially welcome, as well as projects in the digital humanities making the arts, literature and history available to the public in various contexts.

Health, Wellness, and Sustainability. The Health, Wellness and Sustainability focus area addresses questions and issues of human and environmental health. This includes, but is not limited to, issues of global warming, sustainability, energy, public health, mindfulness and environmental justice. This focus area will provide opportunities and resources for faculty and students to collaborate on innovative curriculum ideas and conduct applied research across disciplines focusing on connections between human and environmental health.

Civility and Public Discourse. The Civility and Public Discourse focus area is dedicated to repairing and creating new pathways for civil discourse through faculty and student applied research, community-based research, public lectures and forums, and the support of scholarship fostering conversation around critical questions of civil engagement and civic participation. Priority will be given to interdisciplinary research projects elevating civic-mindedness and promoting civic responsibility consistent with the values of civility and reasoned debate within the Catholic intellectual tradition. This focus area also provides a space for the community to respond to current events.

The Center for Faculty Development sponsors an internal grant that facilitates transdisciplinary efficacy among faculty, the Faculty Partnership Grant. This grant is intended to help faculty increase their knowledge of areas outside their own disciplines or outside their specialty within a discipline. Faculty partner with other faculty as tutor and tutored.

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A copy of the promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

The promotion or tenure guidelines or policies:

Interdisciplinary research is accepted as valid engagement and can be used to support an application for Tenure and Promotion to Assistant and Full Professor. Tenure Application Instructions from the Faculty Handbook:
"In a university as diverse as St. Thomas, the expressions of the intellect will occur in a variety of ways and formats. While recognizing and accepting that diversity, the faculty of St. Thomas expects its colleagues to provide documentation of their achievements as teacher/scholars from peers in the discipline. Faculty must maintain a record of professional engagement, as enumerated below that is appropriate to the nature of the discipline, the level of their program, and the level of support. A continuing scholarly activity agenda (both disciplinary and interdisciplinary) can be manifested in a variety of ways." (pp. 4-8 to 4-9)

Promotion Application for Associate and Full Professor uses same wording. (p. 5-5)

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research:

The library has a library liaison assigned to work with the Office of Sustainability Initiatives and any sustainability classes. The liaison works with faculty to purchase sustainability materials and provides research support to sustainability courses and projects.

There is a library research guide which pulls together recommended library resources for sustainability research: https://libguides.stthomas.edu/sustainability.

The library regularly hosts events and exhibits with a sustainability theme including an annual poster exhibit with the Sustainable Communities Partnership featuring posters of student research projects. The library collaborated with the Sustainability Office Initiatives to create a book display on sustainability in higher education in conjunction with the sustainability strategic planning process.

Website URL where information about the institution’s support for sustainability research is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.