Changing lives, changing the world

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sustainability Garden

Student environmentalists Joe Vos, St. Cloud, Nicholas Jansse, Marshall, Eric Olson, Ogilvie, and Michael Hicks, Litchfield, created a design for an expanded St. Cloud State University Community Garden and an irrigation center.

St. Cloud State continues to be a university on the move. Throughout our reorganization process we have invited members of the campus community to "imagine" a vision for what we want our university to be and to work together to make that vision a reality. An important outcome has been to identify four key elements – or "pillars" – that we believe are essential to making a St. Cloud State education a life-altering experience. They are community engagement, active learning, sustainability and globalization.

The pillars support an enhanced total educational experience that is built around rigorous academic programs and designed to prepare students for life and work in the 21st century. This is our mission, a sacred trust that is no less than the future of our graduates and of the communities they will impact.

On the pages of this magazine you will meet students who are immersed in the kind of learning experiences that will help them make a positive difference in their own unique ways. The four senior technology management majors pictured below are good examples. In a senior project for their environmental technology class, they elected to work with the St. Cloud State University Community Garden folks who asked them to create an irrigation plan that would accommodate needs of the garden, be easy to operate and use collected rain water as the main water supply. Their project is an experience that has had life-altering impact on four students whose careers and personal passion for tending the physical environment will continue to intersect. They have left the Community Garden with the necessary tools to move forward with a sustainable irrigation project.

These students have encountered the impact of the garden on the development of social capital in our neighborhood and beyond through the modeling, teaching and networking among the many emerging garden sites in the region. Thus they have experienced sustainability in its broadest sense. Others you will meet on the following pages have been involved in projects, volunteer activities, internships and other learning experiences that incorporate the elements that define a St. Cloud State education.

Despite lingering economic struggles and the challenges that come with deep mandated budget cuts, St. Cloud State is making extraordinary progress in our efforts to adapt and improve to meet the changing needs of our students and the world in which they live and work.

As we "imagined" a vision for St. Cloud State, some of the descriptors used to define that vision included collaborative, innovative, relevant, connected, dynamic and intentional – words that say who we want to be and how we should be known. But I saved the most powerful for last. Above all, we are and always must be "student-centered" – a university that remains an agent of change in individual lives and in the world beyond our walls.

The Pillars that define a St. Cloud State Education

  • Community Engagement – we must be what we teach in order to provide our students role models and real-life in action examples of what they are learning in the classroom
  • Active Learning – we must provide opportunities to put classroom learning into action in order to provide our students with practical experience and reinforcement of their learning
  • Sustainability in its broadest sense – we must tend to our community as well as the physical environment so that our students can have real opportunities to succeed
  • Globalization – we must be attentive to a changing world and agile in our adaptation to new developments in order to ensure that our students are prepared for a world in which nothing is static and knowledge rapidly becomes obsolete

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