The partnership between Environmental Studies and the Piper Center began with collaboration on an environmental studies internship scholarship created to enhance student learning by funding a credit-bearing internship experience.
Since this initial collaboration, Piper Center staff members and environmental studies professors have continued to talk about how the Piper Center can more closely collaborate with faculty and students in this department to create and facilitate the hands-on learning environmental studies students desire. These conversatins continue as we work to build ever-stronger ties between academics and experiential learning.
To ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES SITE »
The Mayo Scholars Program, a unique experiential learning opportunity for selected science and economics majors, was piloted during the 2006-07 academic year. Through the program, student teams evaluate projects submitted to Mayo Medical Ventures, the arm of Mayo responsible for evaluating potential business opportunities for discoveries and inventions created by Mayo Clinic physicians and researchers. The program, a new initiative between a select group of Minnesota Private Colleges and the Mayo Clinic, was developed by John Meslow ’60, retired VP of Medtronic, with input from David Van Wylen and Piper Center staff. Medtronic underwrote the pilot program.
The program is structured as an interdisciplinary academic internship during Interim. St. Olaf is allotted two separate projects from Mayo Medical Ventures and, accordingly, selects two teams of four students each. Team members are selected on the basis of the academic background necessary for the specific project assigned. An MBA student from St. Thomas or Augsburg provides organizational leadership for each team.
During an internship supervised by Kevin Crisp, Assistant Professor of Biology, the team evaluating the market potential of an orthopedic shoulder and elbow positioner was comprised of students with background in chemistry, physics, mathematics, economics, and biomedical studies. A second team investigated a screening technology that could potentially provide earlier and more specific treatment of rheumatoid arthritis; this team was made up of students with biology and economics majors. Team members spent the month of January researching and evaluating their respective technologies. Their findings were presented to licensing managers at Mayo Medical Ventures in mid-February; a full report, which included details of the research, a SWOT analysis, and a final recommendation for the technology, was also submitted to MMV.
At the conclusion of the program's pilot year, in 2007, Meslow coordinated a thorough evaluation which clearly indicated that structuring the experience as an academic internship clearly provided a superior product and a more robust experience than was experienced by colleges that did not offer credit for their students’ participation. Beginning with the 2007-08 academic year, the Mayo Scholars academic internship became part of the Natural Science curriculum.
The Piper Center works closely with the Pre-Law program at St. Olaf to encourage students to pursue a broad program of study that strengthens their abilities in writing, reading, speaking, and analysis and to embark upon experiential learning activities that complement their unique classroom learning. Doug Casson (Political Science), and Kirsten Cahoon (Piper Center) work collaboratively as co-chairs to advise students considering law, and assist those who are applying to law schools. Cahoon and Casson, along with the larger pre-law advising committee -- Karen Cherewatuk (English), Anthony Rudd (Philosophy), and Steve Hahn (History) -- organize panels, speakers, and forums each semester for students interested in law. In addition, Piper Center staff facilitate law school visits and information sessions, as well as LSAT prep sessions. The Piper Center also offers workshops to prepare and educate pre-law students on the process. Typical programs have included “Law School: Options and Applying,” “Graduate/Professional School Application Process,” “Writing the Personal Statement,” and “Writing a Graduate/Professional School Resume/Curriculum Vitae.” Additionally, the Piper Center has worked to create and facilitate law-related internships, jobs, and networking opportunities that help students discern whether the field of law is right for them.
To PRE-LAW SITE »
BACK TO TOP »
"For students thinking about legal careers, the Piper Center has provided a crucial bridge between academic study and actual practice. Through panel discussions, information sessions, and internships, the Piper Center offers students a glimpse of just where the study of law might take them."
Assistant Professor of Political Science