In response to a rise in harassment and hateful rhetoric against Muslims in our national discourse, Augsburg is committed to fighting discrimination with a mission of inclusivity, hope, and understanding.
In December, the faculty senate passed a resolution in support of Muslim students, colleagues, and neighbors, stating that inflammatory claims and fear mongering in the public discourse undermines the nation’s fight against terrorism and poisons our communities with distrust and fear.
The resolution concludes: “Therefore, the Augsburg College faculty stands resolved that: statements of prejudice and hate against the Faith of Islam should be condemned and vocally opposed, and moreover, we express our deep support, love and friendship for the Muslim members of our campus, community, and world.”
In response to the resolution, President Paul Pribbenow sent an email to the campus community commending the faculty and acknowledging the work of students, faculty, and staff to support justice, dignity, and hospitality.
The president also signed on to support the “UnMinnesotan” campaign, led by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress. The effort urges citizens, who “know better than to be silent or still in the face of bigotry,” to come together as a diverse and vibrant community and “lead people to a place of tolerance and understanding.” Legislators and business leaders, including the CEOs of General Mills, Cargill, and Best Buy, also publicly support the campaign.
Hands-on learning ignites appreciation of cultural differences
True to its mission, Augsburg is committed in both word and deed. Throughout campus, faculty and staff have created spaces for open—sometimes difficult—discourse and have facilitated partnerships to advance interfaith collaborations.
Assistant professor Marc Isaacson engaged his Management Information Systems (MIS) course in an experiential learning opportunity to assist the Sisterhood Boutique, a second-hand clothing store and youth social entrepreneurship program developed by young women, a majority of East African descent, living in our Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
“When we created the E-Commerce course several years back, one of our goals was to implement a hands-on project with a local community partner,” said Isaacson, who has taught at Augsburg for 17 years. “Then I heard about the work of the Sisterhood Boutique from one of my advisees, who helped in the founding of the store, and I knew there was an opportunity to blend the new knowledge and skills of these MIS students with the real-world context of life and business in our neighborhood.”
Isaacson’s students guided the boutique through website enhancements as well as social media and video strategies to expand the store’s reach and fundraising capacity. But, more importantly, the students taught and empowered the women how to continue to support those platforms to grow the business.
“For the students, this was an opportunity to take the knowledge they learned from the textbook and the course and put it into action,” he said. “Having a community partner from the neighborhood made the experience of consulting for a client that much more real. They not only had to deliver a final project but also interacted with the staff of the Sisterhood Boutique through analysis and project development.”
Beyond professional, real-world experience, Isaacson said his students gained an appreciation of cultural differences. Augsburg’s support of intercultural, interfaith community partnerships, he added, nurtures global citizens driven to consider and explore different ideas and perspectives, enriching their lives and adding value to our world in the process.
Dimension 2, Goal 4, Strategy 4: Augsburg is a vibrant and diverse learning community, intentionally reflective of a complex, interconnected world.
—By Kate H. Elliott