Dennis Donovan discusses cookbook created by Public Achievement students in KARE 11 segment

kare 11 - logoKARE 11 television recently interviewed a group of 5th graders who created a multicultural cookbook as a way to promote diversity and tolerance. The students are part Public Achievement, an Augsburg College program designed to teach democracy and citizenship through service projects.

The segment also featured program director Dennis Donovan. “There are a lot of issues in the world, and we need people to come together and solve these problems,” he said. “Having young people participate in public achievement gives them a skill-set and process that normally they would not have.”

Watch and read Students create cookbook to promote diversity on the KARE 11 site.

Huffington Post publishes Harry Boyte column on The Fight for America’s Soul

Huffington-Post - logoThe Huffington Post recently published an article by Harry Boyte, senior fellow in the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, in which Boyte argues that the current political climate in the U.S. has undervalued the community-building and participatory aspects of democracy. The essay centers around conflicting accounts of the “American Dream;” one version focusing on American superiority and the other on the value of “cooperative endeavor” and social justice.

Seeing democracy as more than just a way of electing leaders, Boyte examines the Civilian Conservation Corps as a model for infusing Americans’ work lives with a purpose greater than materialism. He states that, “as work has come to be seen only as a means to the good life and not of value in itself, the public dimensions of work and recognition of the importance of workers have sharply declined.”

Read: The Fight for America’s Soul on the Huffington Post site.

MinnPost interviews Lars Christiansen on city planning

MinnPostMinnPost recently included an interview with Lars Christiansen, associate professor of sociology at Augsburg College, in an article examining the importance of civic engagement in city planning. The article cites ongoing controversies such as the proposed soccer stadium in St. Paul as indicative of a problematic lack of both transparency and residential participation in public processes. Earlier this year, Christiansen published an article in the Journal of Education Planning and Research detailing his study of the St. Paul Friendly Streets Initiative and its public process for a bike lane project.

Moving beyond public processes that merely pay lip service to community inclusion takes time, according to Christiansen. The MinnPost article quotes him as saying, “The community organizing approach to public engagement [that I prefer] takes a lot longer. Like any other community organizing, it involves trust building, relationship building, and lengthy listening. It’s really aiming for co-creation.”

In the article, Christiansen stresses that one important aspect of processes that successfully engage the public in city planning projects is timing. The earlier that planners can involve the public and establish communication with them about a project, the more likely it is that their involvement and communication will see a project through to completion. “The holy grail is the notion of inclusion. How do you do it for the whole duration of the project?” Christiansen says in the article.

Read: While we’re talking parking meters and a stadium, what is ‘public process’ anyway? on the MinnPost site.

Practicing "I have a dream" and schools of citizenship

boyte_mlkBy Harry C. Boyte

Today, on Martin Luther King Jr.’s holiday, I’ve been thinking about the March on Washington and how much its citizenship message is relevant.

In the summer of 1963, my father, Harry George Boyte, went on staff of King’s organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. At his urging I hitchhiked across the country, arriving in Washington the day before, August 27, 1963, on my way to Duke as a freshman in the fall. I lay in a sleeping bag on the floor of his hotel room. Early in the morning, I heard King’s booming voice in a nearby room, practicing “I Have a Dream.” Continue reading “Practicing "I have a dream" and schools of citizenship”

A Preamble Movement

boyte_preambleHarry C. Boyte is the co-director of the Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on organizing theory and practice at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, and is in demand as a keynote speaker with faculty, students, and professionals.

Americans this election season are in an angry, anxious mood that defies easy labels. As Joel Klein describes in a Time cover story based on conversations across the country, “People told personal stories and made complicated arguments that didn’t fit neatly into their assigned political categories.”  Continue reading “A Preamble Movement”

Christensen Symposium focuses on citizenship and discipleship

stortzWhat power can an individual have in a world of 6.5 billion people? Augsburg College encourages us all to consider the power of vision in a world of tension. The 2008-2009 convocation series offers an opportunity to hear today’s outstanding leaders and visionaries who engage us in conversations that contribute to making the world a safer place for future generations.

This is the ninth annual series incorporating long-standing endowed and special programs of Augsburg College. The first convocation of the year is the Bernhard M. Christensen Symposium with lectures on October 6 and 7. The speaker is Martha E. Stortz, author and professor of historical theology and ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary/The Graduate Theological Union. Stortz will speak on “Costly Discipleship: Forgiveness as a Practice” and “Costly Citizenship: Regarding the Other in a Culture of Fear.” Continue reading “Christensen Symposium focuses on citizenship and discipleship”