“You’d never expect to find a leafy arboretum in a high-density, high-diversity, high-traffic neighborhood,” says MinnPost writer Jay Walljasper. “But that’s exactly what Augsburg College is planning for its unmistakably urban campus in the heart of Minneapolis, which borders Fairview Riverside Medical complex, the high-rise Riverside Plaza towers, two freeways, two light rail lines, busy shopping districts on Franklin Avenue and Cedar Avenues, plus one of the largest Somali communities outside of Africa.”
Walljasper, a senior fellow for the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, described Augsburg’s ambitious plan to transform its campus into a living laboratory in a recent article on the history of the urban college, its intent to plant native Minnesota species, and its brainstorming and decision-making processes for the landscape design project.
Donte Collins ’18 was named the “Most Promising Young Poet” by the Academy of American Poets this fall. His poem, “what the dead know by heart,” previously won Augsburg’s John R. Mitchell Prize, which qualified him for the prestigious award.
Collins is a theater major who is active in the local, regional, and national spoken word and poetry scene.
Collins told Minnesota Public Radio that he plans to use his $1,000 prize from the award to self-publish his first collection of poetry, a chapbook called “autopsies.”
President Paul Pribbenow met with leaders of the Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial board to discuss Minnesota’s educational achievement gap among children and youth of diverse backgrounds. The state has one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation, and Augsburg is working to ensure all students of academic ability have access to higher education. The College’s pledge to this work includes limited debt pathways to graduation, setting aside dedicated housing for homeless students, increasing financial aid literacy, supporting faculty in creating inclusive classrooms, and increasing access to course materials.
The editorial explained that Minnesota is rapidly diversifying, but increasing student diversity on college campuses involves more than waiting for more nonwhite Minnesotans to enroll. “As Augsburg College is demonstrating, academic institutions can do much to adapt their own policies and practices to educate what previously has been an underserved share of the state’s population,” the editorial explained.
Augsburg has sought to reduce barriers to college success that often impede students of color, and the College aims to not only to enroll a larger share of nonwhite students, but also to see them through to graduation.
A recent report airing on WCCO radio noted that as students of all ages returned to school this fall, “Augsburg welcomed the class of 2020, with staff greeting students as they walked into the chapel for convocation. However, the class of 2020 had a special distinction – they are the most diverse class the college has seen, with more than 45 percent of them being students of color.”
As Augsburg College President Paul Pribbenow explained, ““For Augsburg, that means that our commitment to diversity, to inclusion and [our] commitment to justice is actually being lived out by the students who come here to be part of our community,”
Associate Professor Lars Christiansen teaches courses in Augsburg’s Department of Sociology and Urban Studies Program. Christiansen puts his scholarship into practice as director of the Friendly Streets Initiative, a St. Paul-based organization that facilitates community organizing through creative public engagement events. The group aims to help communities envision positive change to public spaces, collect and analyze data, and assist neighbors in navigating city planning processes.
Christiansen described the successes of the Friendly Streets Initiative to author Jay Walljasper for a chapter of the new book, “America’s Walking Renaissance: How cities, suburbs, and towns are getting back on their feet.” Walljasper serves as a senior fellow in Augsburg’s Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, and his writing explores how new ideas in urban planning, tourism, community development, sustainability, politics and culture can improve citizens’ lives.
An excerpt from “America’s Walking Renaissance” was published by MinnPost and included a photo of Darius Gray ’15, a community organizer with FSI.
Michael Lansing, associate professor and History Department chair, recently penned an article comparing the United States’ contemporary political landscape with periods in the late 1960s and late 1970s.
Lansing is a historian of the modern United States, and his research focuses on political history, environmental history, and other topics. In his Community Voices commentary, Lansing argued that the state of American democracy and milestones occurring in 1979 are similar to current events.
WCCO TV recently sought counsel from Andy Aoki, professor and department chair of political science at Augsburg College, to answer a question about how much a presidential candidate’s vice president selection influences voters.
“How Much Does The Vice President Pick Matter?” was the focus of the recent Good Question segment.
Aoki provided a straightforward answer.
“It doesn’t usually matter a lot,” he said. “The vice presidents tend to get a lot less attention, so it’s not that easy for people to make their pick based on them because you don’t know much about them.
Augsburg College Professor William “Bill” Green studies and writes about Minnesota history and law. He recently was quoted in a Minnesota Public Radio article that examined the roles non-black activists play in furthering the Black Lives Matter movement’s agenda.
In the article, Green called on the history of the U.S. Civil Rights movement to analyze current demonstrations and protests. He also discussed the ways “protest fatigue” could impact the movement’s progression.
At Augsburg College, Kristin Anderson teaches courses on the history of art and architecture, and she’s prepared to talk about works ranging from the Mona Lisa to the Metrodome.
Anderson’s current writing and research are focused on sports architecture, and she is co-authoring a book on the history of athletic facilities in the Twin Cities.
Minneapolis’ new U.S. Bank Stadium is scheduled to open its doors to the public following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 22, and Anderson offered an explanation in the Star Tribune as to why the facility’s design needed to be bold.
“Every sports broadcast will open with a view of the stadium, the skyline shot, the establishing view of the city,” she said. “If it weren’t distinctive or if it were ugly like the Metrodome, that’s not the statement you want to make.”
Andy Aoki, professor and department chair of political science at Augsburg College, recently spoke with WCCO-TV about the implications of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, a move now referred to as “Brexit.”
Aoki noted that visitors to the United Kingdom may benefit from the devaluation of the pound, but Britain’s unexpected political move also had far-reaching negative effects on financial markets around the globe.
“If you’re going this summer, you’ve kind of hit the lottery because the pound doesn’t look to recover much in the near future,” Aoki told reporter Rachel Slavik.
Economic and immigration issues were in the spotlight as the British debated whether or not to pull out of the European Union, and Aoki also provided Slavik with background on how these issues are influencing the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States.