Spring Semester at RCP

UofM students on a site visit for a class project

It’s spring semester here at the U of MN and at RCP, where we continue to grow our network around the University. This semester, we’ll be partnering with several academic departments for the first time.

A group of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) students will focus their Senior Design Project on managing next generation household waste in Scott County. They will explore ways the process flow at the Jordan, MN waste facility can be improved and its capacity increased by reducing or eliminating wasted time, movement, customer delays, and errors. The four undergraduate students will be stationed at the facility several times throughout the semester to observe the current process flow so they can make informed recommendations. We’re excited to be part of ISyE’s unique senior project model where student teams partner with industry affiliates!

A class of 25 graduate students in the School of Social Work and a team of undergraduates in Family Social Science will  be collaborating with Ramsey County to investigate culturally-appropriate Interventions for Karen families in crisis. The Karen are a minority ethnic group from the eastern edge of Myanmar (formerly Burma), and St. Paul is home to the largest community of Karen outside of Asia. Teams of students in Professor Katrina Cisneros’ Intervention Methods with Families (SW 8352) course, and three undergraduates completing a research internship (FSOS 4294) under the mentorship of Dr. Sara Axtell, will interview Karen families and opinion leaders in the community to learn what crisis services offered by Ramsey County or other providers are seen as accessible, helpful, and welcoming, and to understand what is the most effective family crisis response model for this community.

Professor Lorenzo Fabbri’s new course, Community/Media/Activism: Building Resilience through Documentary Filmmaking, will be focusing its work on Scott County CDA’s housing assistance programs. Students in the class will work under the mentorship of award-winning filmmaker, Fred Kuwornu, to produce a 10-minute documentary and several short films that tell the story of people in the county who use housing assistance programs. This is RCP’s first time partnering with the Department of French and Italian.  

Another new department we’ll be working with is the Department of Food Science and Nutrition (FScN) in the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). FScN  has prioritized community engagement in their new strategic plan, creating opportunities for collaboration with programs like RCP. Professor Len Marquart and Program Coordinator Therese Liffrig have restructured the Food and Nutrition Management undergraduate course so that student teams work with locally based partners on community-identified projects.  Students in the class will have lots of flexibility to determine the focus of their semester-long project. We’re excited that one of their options will be to partner with Scott County Public Health to create an edible landscape. “This collaboration provides the opportunity for students to learn about the whole food spectrum, or supply chain; from growing, distribution, to witnessing it nourish the community, says Liffrig.  

Finally, we’re thrilled to be collaborating with our first academic institution outside of the University of Minnesota system. Graduate students in St. Catherine University’s Library and Information Science program will be collaborating with Scott County Libraries to assess the feasibility of creating an open self-service library model that would provide more open hours for patrons. Students will explore organizational change models, new process flows, an evaluation framework, and community engagement opportunities and strategies.  

Check out the list of spring-semester RCP-affiliated courses for more information, and stay tuned for updates on these and other projects during the next few months. 

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