The Center for Small Towns (CST) provides assistance in the areas of student involvement, program evaluation, applied research and information, community planning and support, and brokering resources to small towns. CST also offers a conversation series and a Symposium on Small Towns. The Symposium is designed to discuss and analyze current issues or significant aspects of small towns and celebrate rural living.
University of Minnesota, Morris students are central to all Center for Small Towns’ programs. Students provide organizations with valuable, specialized, low-cost assistance on a wide variety of activities including: applied research, coordination of programs or projects, resource assessments, and promotional writings. Students are involved through paid employment, internships, directed studies, or by volunteering. Learn more »
Assist organizations to initiate or better integrate the process of evaluation, to help make needed adjustments, and to determine the value or worth of programs.
Perform research projects aimed at a locally identified purpose; collect and analyze historical information, create maps of variables, and conduct surveys. Learn more »
Community Planning and Support
Assist communities, organizations, and schools to create and move forward with a strategic process, program, or project.
Connect people to appropriate information and resources of the University of Minnesota and regional, state, and national organizations involved in community and rural development.
The Center for Small Towns has two main types of convening activities—one is a conversation series and the second is the Symposium on Small Towns.
The Conversation Series convenes individuals and groups across the region to discuss and learn about critical issues on important topics. Contact us with your ideas and suggestions.
Here are some examples of past Conversations Series:
- Conversation on Collaboration
- Workshop on Open Space Technology and Appreciative Inquiry
- Conversation on Rural Education: Herman, Minnesota
The Symposium on Small Towns is an event designed to increase understanding about small town vitality and to celebrate rural living. Leaders, practitioners, and citizens come together in this creative atmosphere to reflect on histories, share happenings, and look to the future.
“The Center for Small Towns played an important role in the development and implementation of our project evaluation for the Blandin Foundation. Tasked with conducting more than 3,000 telephone interviews over a three-month period, the CST staff organized their students and faculty and staff to completed this first phase of the project on time and on budget. I greatly appreciate their professionalism, collegiality and flexibility. I certainly look forward to working with the Center for Small Towns again as we move to the second phase of the project.”
—Jack M. Geller, Professor & Head, Liberal Arts & Education Dept., University of Minnesota, Crookston
“Northern Connections was very pleased with the service and attention that the CST staff provided us with our customer satisfaction survey. Our questions were always handled promptly and professionally. You listened to our needs and presented us with options that would best fit those needs. Your feedback and direction allowed for us to develop a terrific model that we could use to measure the outcomes and activities that we have with our customers. We were given specific details on how to address certain questions and what language was appropriate for the customers we work with. The survey was very effective for understanding our customer’s opinions about Northern Connections. It also showed us areas where our activities could be strengthened. Without the assistance and professional help of CST our survey would never have been the success that it was. Thank you for all your help along the way.”
Northern Connections is a private, non-profit organization, connecting individuals and families in west central Minnesota with resources to achieve financial independence.
—Paul Sweere, Counselor/Representative, Northern Connections
“The Center for Small Towns completes a newspaper analysis for participants in the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Editors & Publishers Community Leadership program, annually. The Center reviews three months of coverage from participant papers, evaluating the content using the Blandin Foundation’s “Eight Dimensions of Healthy Community.” The analysis is thorough, and The Center prepares a wonderful report containing individualized findings, for each newspaper. In addition, the analysts present the individual and group findings at a live meeting of program cohort. Working with The Center’s staff is always an enjoyable experience: they are professional, responsive and thorough. We count on them for this important piece of one of our most popular and prestigious training programs.”
—Sarah Bauer, Program Director, Minnesota Newspaper Association