River Semester media attention grows as class travels down-river

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 2.35.52 PM[Updated September 30] — The Augsburg College River Semester, created and led by Joe Underhill, associate professor of political science, departed from St. Paul’s Harriet Island on September 1. As part of the kickoff, the River Semester class was joined by a group of nearly 100 students, parents, high school students and members of the Augsburg College community who paddled in a flotilla of 24-foot voyageur canoes from St. Paul to South St. Paul. Students participating in the semester-long program will earn as many as 16 credits in the arts, humanities, and sciences as they travel nearly 2,000 miles of the 2,350-mile Mississippi River.

The River Semester kickoff garnered a range of attention. Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed September 1 “Augsburg College River Semester Day” and many media outlets covered the launch of the class.

Since the students and faculty departed on their voyage, print and broadcast media have been sharing the story of this hands-on, interdisciplinary program. In fact, multiple stories have been picked up by the Associated Press and shared through the AP’s member media throughout the nation.

A snapshot of the ongoing media coverage is below. As additional coverage occurs, it will be added to this post.

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Pioneer Press notes Augsburg’s diversity award

logo-smallThe St. Paul Pioneer Press mentioned that Augsburg College was among 92 higher-education institutions nationally to be recognized for excellence in diversity by the magazine Insight Into Diversity.

Read, “Education notes: News from schools near you” on the Pioneer Press site.

John Shockley provides commentary for MinnPost story on newsroom decision-making

MinnPostJohn Shockley, an Augsburg College political science instructor, recently was quoted in an article from MinnPost’s media section regarding newsroom decision-making and editorial judgement.

Shockley described interactions with a Star Tribune newspaper editor pertaining to the publication’s decision not to cover an often talked-about story from the Twin Cities metro. Visit the MinnPost website to read, “Why the Strib originally passed on the ‘making out’ story.”

Augsburg partners in Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology

$20 million NSF grant goes to UW-Madison, Augsburg College
and collaborators

Z. Vivian Feng, associate professor of chemistry, will use her expertise as an analytical and material chemist in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology.

Augsburg College is joining a research group tasked with exploring the benefits and potential risks of nanotechnology.

Augsburg has been added as a partner to the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, a multi-institutional research center based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Supported through a nearly $20 million award of National Science Foundation funding over the next five years, the CSN includes 15 innovative faculty members from research institutions across the United States.

Z. Vivian Feng, associate professor of chemistry, is leading Augsburg’s participation in the center.

Nanotechnology involves the use of materials at the smallest scale, including the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules.

Products that use nanoscale materials range from beer bottles and car wax to solar cells and electric and hybrid car batteries. If you read your books on a Kindle, a semiconducting material manufactured at the nanoscale underpins the high-resolution screen.

While there are already hundreds of products that use nanomaterials in various ways, much remains unknown about how these modern materials and the tiny particles they are composed of interact with the environment and living things.

Feng first became involved in the CSN during the final year of its first grant phase, which corresponded with her 2014-15 sabbatical. Her expertise in characterizations of nanomaterials and model membranes, as well as analytical method development will contribute to the understanding of various interactions at the highly complex nano-bio interfaces.

In particular, Feng will lead a team of undergraduate researchers in exploring the various toxicity mechanisms of nanomaterials to environmentally-beneficial bacteria to provide insight to redesign nanomaterials that are benign in the environment. Under Feng’s direction, Augsburg College students Hilena Frew ’17, Lyle Nyberg ’17, and Thu Nguyen ’16 contributed to the CSN’s initial research phase. Frew and Nguyen will continue working as undergraduate researchers with the support of a stipend from the new NSF grant in the coming year. Find additional information about Feng’s research interests and mentorship on her research site.

Along with UW-Madison and Augsburg, research partners on the grant include the University of Minnesota, the University of Illinois, Northwestern University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Tuskegee University, the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Iowa, and Georgia Tech.

CSN funding is provided by the NSF Division of Chemistry through the Centers for Chemical Innovation Program (CHE-1240151).

MinnPost features Professor Bill Green’s latest book

MinnPostAugsburg College Professor of History Bill Green spoke with MinnPost about his latest book, “Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865-1912.”

Green told reporter Amy Goetzman that his book chronicles conditions for African-Americans in Minnesota in the half-century following the Civil War and picks up where his previous book, “A Peculiar Imbalance: The Fall and Rise of Racial Equality in Minnesota, 1837-1869,” left off.

“The history [of Minnesota] is amazing, particularly when you look at who was here before statehood and how they interacted with each other,” Green said. “I found that we were lacking a good accounting of the black people who were part of that history. Most of them didn’t leave a written record, which looks like they had nothing to say, but of course they did. They were part of this experience.”

Visit the MinnPost website to learn more.

Bill Green answers WCCO ‘Good Question’

History Professor Bill Green spoke with WCCO-TV about why Minnesotans are quick to defend their state’s image.

A recent Washington Post article identified Red Lake County, Minn., as the “absolute worst place to live in America,” and Minnesotans immediately sought to set the record straight. In the news station’s Good Question segment, Green explained that part of the reason why Minnesotans reacted strongly to the article is because of the major investment they make in ensuring that the state offers a favorable quality of life.

“We work hard to have good government, we work hard to create a society that attempts to include everyone,” he said. “We work hard to invest resources into making this place look beautiful.”

Watch “Good Question: Why Are Minnesotans So Proud Of Their State?” to learn more.

Augsburg alumni bring ‘Hoopla Train’ to rural Minnesota

sodhouseThis summer, Sod House — a theater company founded by Augsburg College Chair of Theater Arts Darcey Engen ’88 and her husband, Luverne Seifert ’83 — brought a production of “Hoopla Train (with Yard Master Yip and his Polkastra)” to 14 historic ballrooms in different Minnesota cities including Barrett, McGregor, Nisswa, and Sleepy Eye.

Engen and Seifert shared the stage with a troupe of performers to put on the production billed as “Lawrence Welk meets ‘Hee-Haw.’” The Sod House Theater project began in 2011 when Engen and Seifert collaborated to create the condensed version of Anton Chekhov’s play “The Cherry Orchard” with Twin Cities colleagues including Sarah Myers, associate professor of theater at Augsburg.

This year the “Hoopla Train” has garnered the attention of media outlets across Minnesota, including the following organizations and stories:

Bring Me The News shares roundup of River Semester info

bringmeThe online media resource Bring Me The News shared a compilation of information about the Augsburg College River Semester, a three-and-a-half month program in which students and faculty members will traverse the Mississippi River from St. Paul to New Orleans while studying topics in the arts, humanities, and sciences. As the story noted, “Students will sleep in campsites instead of dorm rooms and will paddle rather than walk to their classes this fall.”

Visit the Bring Me The News website to read, “Rollin’ on the river: Augsburg prepares to launch its first semester on the Mississippi.

Star Tribune previews Augsburg College River Semester

Minneapolis Star TribuneAugsburg College’s first-ever River Semester will be an opportunity for students to spend the fall and early winter months traveling from St. Paul to New Orleans in 24-foot voyageur canoes on the Mississippi River. Participants will study topics ranging from ecology to history to literature.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune recently discussed this experiential education opportunity in the article, “Augsburg preparing to launch ‘River Semester’ on the Mississippi.

Pioneer Press features debut book from Howling Bird Press

PioneerPressHowling Bird Press, a student-run press run out of the Augsburg MFA in Creative Writing program, is bringing out its first book.

“At the Border of Wilshire & Nobody” was launched as part of the MFA program’s publishing concentration. The book-length poetry collection by Los Angeles-based Marci Vogel, winner of the 2015 Howling Bird Press poetry prize, was chosen from a field of more than 60 from across the nation and was shepherded into print by Howling Bird associate editors Amanda Symes ’15 MFA, Ashley Cardona ’15 MFA, and Kevin Matuseski ’16 MFA.

Visit the Pioneer Press website to read, “‘At the Border’ a first for Minnesota’s Howling Bird Press.”