Lars Christiansen is Director of Urban Studies, and is on the faculty of the Department of Sociology and Environmental Studies. Lars originally joined the Department of Sociology and the Urban Studies Program at Augsburg in 2001. Lars’ teaching and scholarship focuses on urban resilience and sustainability, urban planning and public engagement, transportation systems, social theory, the philosophical tradition of American Pragmatism, innovative and alternative liberal arts education, social movements, and research methods.
In 2008, Lars was named recipient of Augsburg University’s Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Learning – Award for Teaching.
In 2009, Lars and Professor Nancy Fischer received a Canadian Studies Faculty Enrichment Grant from the Government of Canada for the development of their “Sustainable Cities in North America” course.
Innovations in Teaching — Highlighting Four Courses
“Sustainable Cities” (Vancouver, BC; Portland, Ore.; Copenhagen, Denmark; Mexico City, Mexico)
In July 2008 Lars and Nancy Fischer taught a (then) new study abroad course called “Sustainable Cities in North America.” This course brought students to Portland, Oregon for one week, and Vancouver, British Columbia for two weeks. We explored and analyzed these cities, as well as the Twin Cities, on bicycles, on foot, and using transit. We met with scholars, policy makers, and community organizers to better understand how these cities are accomplishing progressive planning practices and addressing challenges. This course was taught again in 2010, that time incorporating Victoria, BC, and with grant assistance from the Government of Canada. In January 2014, this course was taught in Mexico City to address how megacities are positioned in the global striving for sustainability. In Spring 2016, Copenhagen, Denmark was the destination, as it is again in Spring 2018. For a description of the first version of this course, read “Auggies Traverse the Concrete Jungle” at http://www.augsburg.edu/metrourban/. Or, read “Studying Sustainability” athttp://www.augsburg.edu/now/2008_2009/april/articles/sustainable_cities/index.html.
“Legacies of Chicago: Ideas and Action in Place”
In Spring of 2010, 2011, and 2013 Lars and Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow taught “Legacies of Chicago” as the theme for the Honors Senior Seminar. The course is about the intersection of sociality and place, focusing on networks of activity or communities of thinkers-doers engaging in creative and innovative work. Every great place produces great ideas and actions, sometimes to a level of influence that they become gifts (or curses) to the city or even the larger culture, gifts (or curses) from one generation to another. With the help of colleagues in art, business, history, English, and theater, this course explores major contributions that Chicago has given to U.S. culture and history, including: Deweyan pragmatism and progressive education; Addams’s social ethics and neighborhood building; the Chicago School of Sociology and Urban Ecology; Chicago architecture (ie., the work of Burnham & Root, Sullivan, Richardson, Cleveland); the literature and film of Chicago; the Alinsky model of social change; agricultural cooperatives and commodities markets; and Chicago-style improvisational theater. We finish the course focusing on events in 1990s to the present, from the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995 to Obama’s community organizing in the 2000s. During the semester the class spends a long weekend in Chicago experiencing directly various themes of the course.
Integrated Term (I-Term): “Fate Of The Earth 101: Consumption of Food, Fuel and Media in Contemporary Culture.”
In Fall 2009, Lars and five other faculty members, along with several support staff, created a learning community called “Fate of the Earth 101.” Together the faculty utilize our different disciplinary perspectives and a wide array of creative teaching and learning activities to inquire about the consequences of living in a consumerist society.http://www.augsburg.edu/integratedterm/. The I-Term was taught again in 2010 and 2012.
A Seminar in Pragmatism
Version 2012: Divided States of America?
Version 2016: Overcoming Ideology and Embracing the Body
Co-created/taught with Professor Larry Crockett, this Seminar provides an overview of the American philosophical tradition of Pragmatism as a way to explore the challenges of divisive politics. We explore the work of William James, C.S. Peirce, John Dewey, Jane Addams, Alain Locke, Mark Johnson, Richard Rorty, Larry Hazelrigg, Bruno Latour, Cornel West, Kennan Ferguson, Louis Menand, and others. We address historical and contemporary controversies including Civil War, the Vietnam War, Black Freedom movements, the abortion debate, the Israel/Palestine conflict, and other events that present the challenges of ideological commitment and the desire to achieve social change.
Courses Lars Teaches
- CityLife: Introduction to Urban Sociology (SOC 111)
- Introduction to Human Society (SOC 121)
- Protest and Social Change: The Sociology of Social Movements (SOC 240)
- Sustainable Cities in North America (SOC 295), co-taught with Professor Nancy Fischer Photo Album
- Research Methods (SOC 363)
- Disaster and Resilience (SOC 380)
- City and Regional Planning (SOC 381)
- Internships (SOC 399)
- Legacies of Chicago: Ideas and Action in Place (HON 490) co-taught with President Paul Pribbenow
- Fate of the Earth 101: Consumption of Food, Fuel, and Media in Contemporary Culture (Integrated Term)
- Divided States of America? A Seminar in Pragmatism, co-taught with Professor Larry Crockett
- Overcoming Ideology and Embracing the Body: A Seminar in Pragmatism, co-taught with Professor Larry Crockett
Christiansen, Lars D. and Nancy L. Fischer. 2016. “Working in the (social) construction zone.” Pp. 3 – 11 in Introducing the New Sexuality Studies, Third Edition. Routledge: New York, New York.
Christiansen, Lars D. 2015. “The Timing and Aesthetics of Public Engagement: Insights from an Urban Street Transformation Initiative.” Journal of Planning Education and Research 35 (4): 455 – 470.
Trudeau, Daniel and Lars Christiansen. 2014. “Cities and Politics.” Pp. 139 – 145 in Encyclopedia of American Political Culture.
Dvorak, Andrea M.W., Lars D. Christiansen, Nancy L. Fischer, Joseph B. Underhill. 2011. “A Necessary Partnership: Study Abroad and Sustainability in Higher Education.” Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad. Volume XXI: Fall: 143-166.
Christiansen, Lars D. 2011. Review of Jeffrey Craig Sanders’ Seattle and Roots of Urban Sustainability: Inventing Ecotopia for Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews vol. 40 no. 6 (November): 747-749.
Christiansen, Lars D., and Nancy Fischer. 2010. “Teaching Urban Sociology and Urban Sustainability on Two Feet, Two Wheels, and in Three Cities: Our Experience Teaching Sustainable Cities In North America.” Teaching Sociology 38, 4: 301-313.
Lars Christiansen, Mindy Stombler, and Lyn Thaxton. 2004. “A Report on Librarian-Faculty Relations from a Sociological Perspective.” Journal of Academic Librarianship Vol. 30, No. 2: 116-121.
Isaac, Larry W., and Lars Christiansen. 2002. “How the Civil Rights Movement Revitalized Labor Militancy.” American Sociological Review 66, 6: 722-746.
Isaac, Larry W. and Lars Christiansen. 1999. “Degradations of Labor, Cultures of Cooperation: Braverman’s ‘Labor,’ Lordstown, and the Social Factory.” Pp. 111-148 in Rethinking the Labor Process, edited by Mark Wardell, Peter Meiksins, and Thomas L. Steiger. New York: SUNY Press.
Research In Progress
Bodies in Motion: The Science and Politics of Movement
This book aims to bridge recent advancements in the science and philosophy of embodiment with transportation policy, practices, and urban planning. It seeks to place new conceptual tools into the hands of practitioners (urban planners, multi-modal transportation advocates, equity-oriented sustainability organizations), as well as supply embodiment theorists with new applications.
Batteries with Flesh: The secret to equity’s greatest challenge OR An inquiry into the value of value
This work argues that a key but often overlooked argument in Marxian theory — the value-form — holds the key to understanding and addressing pejorative social relations and inequities.
Service at Augsburg
Lars is currently a Hagfors Fellow and a Sabo Scholar for the Sabo Center for Citizenship and Democracy. After having completed a six-year stint as Chair of Sociology, Lars is now Director of Urban Studies. Lars is past member of the board of directors of the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) (2009 – 2012). He is also a past member of the Augsburg faculty senate (2005-2007), the Social Science Collaborative, and the Assessment Committee. He was also faculty advisor for Augsburg’s Sociology Club (2002-2006).
Service and Interests off campus
A resident of Saint Paul, Lars is an active member in community development, with a specific interest in community organizing and inclusive planning processes. He served as Director of Friendly Streets Initiative (2009 – 2016), and is a past member of the Board of Directors of ReConnectRondo (2017-2018), Cycles 4 Change (2014-2016), Nice Ride Minnesota (2009-2012), St. Paul Smart Trips (2010-2012), and Transit for Livable Communities (2013 – 2016).
A lifelong member of Adventure Cycling Association, Lars enjoys bicycle touring and mountain centuries, and commutes by bicycle in the Twin Cities year-round. He is a poor chess player, but enjoys it anyway. As a former musician and now merely a discerning fan, he cannot seem to get enough of The Bad Plus, Bela Bartok, Deftones, (the) Melvins, Primus, Radiohead, Self-Evident, System of a Down, Tool, Tortoise, Traindodge, Frank Zappa, and John Zorn & Electric Masada.
- The bicycle, the road, mountains, trees, rivers, community organizers, and creatures of the Earth
- B.A. Clark University, Music and Sociology (1991)
- Ph.D. Florida State University (1999), Sociology, with an emphasis on political economy, social movements, and comparative-historical methods