Associate History Professor Michael Lansing featured in two TV documentaries

 Michael Lansing
Michael Lansing on “Flour Power”.

Augsburg Department of History Chair Michael Lansing was interviewed for Minnesota Experience’s first-ever episode of “Flour Power,” a new weekly history series from TPT – Twin Cities PBS.

The episode, which premiered September 17, explored the impact that Minnesota’s milling history had on the carbohydrates we consume every day worldwide.

Stream the full episode at the TPT – Twin Cities PBS website.

Earlier in September, Lansing was featured in “The Rise and Fall of the Nonpartisan League,” a documentary series from Prairie Public Television (North Dakota). In 2015, Lansing published his book Insurgent Democracy: The Nonpartisan League in North American Politics, then served as an advisor for the series.

Watch part 1 at Prairie Public’s YouTube channel.

WCCO-TV features Professor of Sociology Diane Pike’s “tech-free” classroom

Diane PikeTechnology has become a powerful tool for many educators. Many agree it makes learning more fun and engaging, while other educators such as Augsburg University Professor of Sociology and Department Chair Diane Pike opt for a “tech free” classroom. Pike has restricted technology use in her classroom for 10 years now.

My goal is to have you not look at your phone for 70 minutes,” Pike told WCCO-TV. “The research is really clear that being on your phone in class is distracting.” Since implementing her tech-free zone, Pike has not had significant issues. She says her small class sizes, around 25 students, make it easier to manage.

English prof Robert Cowgill remains hopeful about the future of Liberal Arts

 

English major Connor Doebbert shaking hands with Prof. George Dierberger at Augsburg's 2017 spring commencement.
English major Connor Doebbert shaking hands with Prof. George Dierberger at Augsburg’s 2017 spring commencement.

The notable preference for STEM programs has negatively affected the number of English majors in the United States. Retired English professor Madelon Sprengnether from the University of Minnesota paid close attention to the numbers. Sprengnether reached out to her former student, professor Robert Cowgill, chair of the Department of English at Augsburg University to discuss why English (and other humanities disciplines) still hold appeal. “As I age, I see us all as a circle of writers and teachers in this city who have kept a certain flame of sensibility alive in our students,” Cowgill said. “I think we matter. What we keep alive matters.”

See full article at the Star Tribune website.

Psychology prof Bridget Robinson-Riegler explains nostalgia and the return of “Murphy Brown”

Bridget Robinson-Riegler
Bridget Robinson-Riegler on WCCO

The recent comeback of the hit TV show “Murphy Brown” stirred up some warm memories among fans after 20 years of being off the air.

So, why does nostalgia feel so good? WCCO’s Heather Brown talked with Bridget Robinson-Riegler, professor of psychology at Augsburg University, about the psychology behind the feeling of nostalgia that certain past memories make us feel.

“When we are depressed, feeling alone, feeling angst-ridden, we turn to nostalgia because that makes us feel better,” Robinson-Riegler told WCCO. “When we think back to our past, the neural substrates, the things responsible for how people construct memories of the past, are the same mechanisms by which people project about the future.

Watch the full report at the WCCO website

The Pioneer Press reported earlier this year about the trend of the ’00s back in television.

Given the high demand for reboots, relaunches and remakes, Ross Raihala, of the Pioneer Press, interviewed Robinson-Riegler about what she describes as a “reminiscence bump.”

“Most memories come from age 10 to age 30 or so,” said Robinson-Riegler, in the article. Many network executives are of an age where some of their most potent memories formed around the turn of the century, thus the oncoming tide of ’00s throwbacks, she told the Pioneer Press.

Recent hit television revivals include “Trading Spaces,” “Will and Grace,” and “Queer Eye” and movie sequels such as “Super Troopers 2,” and “Incredibles 2.”

“One of the main things nostalgia does is help people find meaning in life and to connect with other people,” Robinson-Riegler said. “When you’re connected to other people, life has meaning. Nostalgia makes people feel protected, loved and happy. People even feel physically warmer.”

Read the full article at the Pioneer Press

 

KSTP documents River Semester

Joe Underhill, the River Semester program director
Joe Underhill, River Semester program director.

Fifteen Auggies are paddling down the Mississippi River for 100 days while learning about history, politics, and the environment for 16 credits.

An experiential education is a trademark of an Augsburg education. “We do this because we think this is the best way to learn both about the Mississippi River and to learn in general about what’s going on out in the world,” said River Semester program director Joe Underhill, who will be teaching along the way.

For many students, this is their first time camping. “I’ve never camped, never canoed in my life. I’m nervous because it’s out of my comfort zone but I’m very excited to see what it’s going to be like”, student Kristy Ornelas told KSTP.

This is Augsburg’s second River Semester. The first was in 2015.

Watch full report on KSTP’s website.

Tara Sweeney’s Swedish picture book project highlighted at Twin Cities PBS

Tara Sweeney painting.
Tara Sweeney on TPT.

Twin Cities PBS featured retired Augsburg art professor Tara Sweeney’s collaborative “A to Zåäo” picture book project at the American Swedish Institute.

“A to Zåäö,” is a Swedish alphabet book that features paintings of objects and stories from the historic Swedish-American immigrant experience.

“The objects are the things that immigrants brought to Minnesota and I have to believe they were traveling pretty light. So they brought things that meant something to them and/or they were useful, so they’re loaded with stories.” Sweeney told TPT’s Minnesota Original art series.

Sweeney credits her 25 years of service at Augsburg and its institutional mission for influencing her interest in developing a picture book that speaks to historic and contemporary immigrant experiences.

View the segment at Twin Cities PBS

Jeanne Boeh discusses the value of a college degree with WCCO

 

Jeanne Boeh on WCCO
Jeanne Boeh on WCCO

Jeanne Boeh, professor of economics and business department chair at Augsburg University, recently spoke with WCCO about the rising cost of a college education.

Boeh noted that a college degree is still worth it.

“It is a different experience than it was 20 years ago. All the amenities have improved. There is more support for students. The dorms are better. The food is better. The kind of help students need is more available. All of that costs money,” Boeh told reporter Angela Davis.

Read and watch the full report at the WCCO site.

Support for Associate Professor Mzenga Wanyama

(Updated 9/5/2018)

Augsburg University is sharing this background about the immigration case involving Associate Professor Mzenga Wanyama to keep our campus and the public informed.

Status with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
The Board of Immigration Appeals has granted a stay of removal. As a result, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement can’t deport Mzenga Wanyama and Mary Mzenga until the Board issues a decision on the merits of the motion to reopen his asylum case.

ICE had previously informed Dr. Wanyama and his wife Mary Mzenga that they were required to depart the United States on September 9. That had been extended another 30 days, before the stay of removal was granted late August 31.

“We are saddened that Dr. Wanyama continues to face this difficult situation,” said Paul Pribbenow, president of Augsburg University. “We value his scholarship and skill set and are exploring options for him to continue working in Augsburg’s global operations if he can’t stay in the U.S.”

Background
On April 5, Dr. Wanyama and his wife were informed in a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement that ICE would allow them 90 days to depart the United States. During a June 29 meeting ICE confirmed that it had extended their departure date from July 4 to August 3. The ICE office had asked them to return to the office on July 25 for a check-in.

On July 25, ICE then informed Dr. Wanyama and his wife Mary Mzenga that they would have to depart the United States on September 9. He was required to bring his plane tickets with a September 9 departure data to a check-in appointment with ICE on September 4. His September 9 departure was later extended 30 days.

Meanwhile, a motion to reopen Dr. Wanyama’s asylum application based on changed country conditions and a stay of removal was filed earlier this summer with the Board of Immigration Appeals. Once ICE was unwilling to use its discretionary authority any longer, his attorney requested the emergency review of the stay of removal that was granted August 31. If the stay had not granted, he and his wife would most likely have had to leave the U.S. in October.

Dr. Wanyama is teaching fall semester 2018 classes in the English department.

Augsburg University statements
Augsburg issued a statement from Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow following the Wanaymas’ April 5 ICE meeting, as well as statements before and following the previous ICE meeting, on March 9. These statements are posted below:

Augsburg University Faculty Senate statement
The Faculty Senate of Augsburg University wishes to express our unanimous and unconditional support for our friend and colleague, Professor Mzenga Wanyama. We urge all those who care about Professor Wanyama to consider signing the petition on his behalf at https://www.change.org/p/augsburg-university-support-augsburg-professor-mzenga-wanyama.

Augsburg University faculty statement
The Augsburg University faculty calls on the U.S. government to halt plans for the unjust deportation of our colleague Professor Mzenga Wanyama and his spouse and Augsburg nursing student Mary Mzenga and to permit their continued work and residence in the US. We stand against the anti-immigrant sentiment that is prompting the current wave of deportations and proudly affirm our status as an institution that supports the many immigrant and refugee members of our academic community.

Website
A website, www.mzenga.com, has been created by friends and supporters of Mzenga and Mary Wanyama. The site includes a statement from the Wanyamas, information about the next Immigration and Customs Enforcement meeting, and information about getting involved and providing support.

Work authorization and sponsorship
Augsburg University complies with federal law that requires employers to verify that employees are eligible to work in the United States. Dr. Wanyama has authorization to work in the United States, issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Sponsorship for permanent resident status is not an option at this time due to a restriction related to a J-1 two-year home residency requirement. The two-year home residency requirement means that those who come to the U.S. in J-1 status cannot become permanent residents in the U.S., change status, or get work or family-based visa status until they return to their country of last permanent residence for at least two years cumulatively. A request to waive the two-year home residency requirement was filed several years ago, but the waiver was denied. Augsburg is working with legal counsel to pursue all options available to us under the current scenario.

Kare 11’s Jana Shortal discusses civility with Minnesota Urban Debate League students

Urban Scholars
Marshall Steele and Sandy Bolton on Kare 11.

Kare 11’s Jana Shortal interviews Marshall Steele, from Central High School, and Sandy Bolton, from Roosevelt High School, about civil debate. Both students attended Augsburg’s Minnesota Urban Debate League summer camp, a program which provides resources and programming to support competitive academic debate at Twin Cities high schools and middle schools.

How can emotion and civility co-exist? Shortal asked. “Try to understand people’s points even if there’s something you fundamentally disagree with,” Bolton said. “There are backgrounds that lead to people having opinions that are insensitive but have fundamental reasoning behind them that you have to understand in order to engage with them well.”

See the full interview on Kare 11’s website.

Twin Cities mayors judged Augsburg’s annual Great Education Debate

Mayors Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter at the debate discuss the finer points of civil debate.
Mayors Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter at the debate. Photo by Andy Mannix – Star Tribune.

Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter, the new mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul, served as judges June 7 at the Minnesota Urban Debate League’s Great Education Debate at Augsburg.

Augsburg’s urban debate league program provides resources and programming to support competitive academic debate at Twin Cities high schools and middle schools. The goal is to empower students through competitive academic debate to become engaged learners, critical thinkers, and active citizens who are effective advocates for themselves and their communities.

At the debate, four students presented arguments on the topic of investing in career technical education as an alternative to four-year college degrees. Both Frey and Carter gave tips and feedback to the participants.

“You have mastered a skill that has largely been lost in American society, which is the ability to debate respectfully,” Frey told the students.

See full story on the Star Tribune page.

Learn more about the Minnesota Urban Debate League here.