The University of Minnesota, Morris Center for Small Towns (CST) is a community outreach program that serves as a point of entry to resources throughout the University of Minnesota. Small towns, local units of government, P-12 schools, non-profit organizations, and other University units utilize the Center's resources when working on rural issues or making contributions to rural society.
Major components of CST provide assistance in brokering resources, program evaluation, applied research and information, community planning and development, and student involvement. CST also offers a conversation series and the Symposium on Small Towns. The Symposium is designed to discuss and analyze current issues or significant aspects of small towns and celebrate rural living.
CST provides assistance on community and economic development projects—often involving more research or expertise than small towns can afford or provide themselves. At the same time, CST works to involve University of Minnesota, Morris faculty and students in the challenges and issues facing rural communities, which provides students with rich opportunities for applied learning. Examples of projects include:
- Evaluating the impact of community programs aimed at increasing the health of communities and schools through physical activities, education, and healthy eating;
- Conducting a countywide survey and creating and distributing educational information to help move toward carbon neutrality;
- Working with a downtown committee to revitalize the look and feel of mainstreet storefronts while strategically planning future endeavors; and
- Assisting a public television station's efforts to enhance community outreach and engagement through database development and creating and disseminating communication materials.
CST collaborates with many University of Minnesota programs including the Center for Rural Design, the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, U of M Extension, Research and Outreach Centers, the Economic Development Administration Center, and the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships. Current collaborations with other organizations include Minnesota Rural Partners, Minnesota Initiative Foundations, Minnesota Rural Development Commission, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and the Small Business Development Center. This combined knowledge of the rural environment, along with the faculty and students of the University makes CST an ideal place to link rural issues with needed resources.
Through the Center for Small Towns:
- Communities benefit by receiving low-cost, specialized assistance from knowledgeable, enthusiastic students
- Students benefit through hands-on learning, valuable work experience, and being valued citizens
- Rural policy advocates benefit from CST's research documenting small town concerns and promising solutions
Believing in a bright, prosperous future for small communities.