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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Think tanks connect U, community

By Drew Thompson, Staff Writer

Honors think tanks are “a vehicle to think about collaboration” and a link between the U and the greater community, said Martha Bradley, dean of the Honors College.

The think tank groups, each comprised of about a dozen students and a pair of faculty members, presented their findings and insights after a year of research and service Tuesday at the Honors Center.

One team worked with University Neighborhood Partners to focus on understanding and building communities through telling and hearing stories with an emphasis on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley.

“There are voices of the west side that just need to be heard,” said Randy Wood, a senior in German. The group tried to change the often negative perceptions of the west side by learning and retelling stories of the people who live there.

“The reciprocal benefits were huge,” said Wood, who said he knew very little about the west side before the experience.

The stories will be available soon at

Sustainability issues formed the core of another think tank’s efforts. Under the direction of Fred Montague and Philip Emmi, professors of biology and urban planning, respectively, the research group developed a sustainability auditing process for schools and put together a pamphlet about how to live green.

The Salt Lake Center for Science Education, a science-based school for junior high-age students, piloted the audit program, and the Utah Society for Environment Education plans to implement the program state wide in the future.

The final think tank group used the writings of Wallace Stegner, an environmental activist and U graduate, as a springboard into the discussion of the use of Western lands, particularly the Canyonlands and surrounding San Juan County.

Nick Noble, a junior in political science and participant in the sustainability think tank, said the experience taught him “how to get a message out” and was “a great way to get involved with the community.”

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Tyler Cobb

U student Randy Wood presents his research on building communities on the west side of the Salt Lake valley at the Honors Center Tuesday. His research was conducted through an honors think tank class.

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