River Semester media attention grows as class travels down-river

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 2.35.52 PM[Updated November 13] — 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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Minnesota Public Radio previews River Semester program

MPRLogoAugsburg College’s new River Semester program was featured on Minnesota Public Radio’s On Campus blog. Sixteen Augsburg students, two faculty members, and two river commercial expedition personnel will travel from St. Paul to New Orleans during the fall semester, oftentimes camping on the banks of the Mississippi River and engaging with people who live and work along its path. Students will carry out river-related projects and study subject areas in the arts and sciences.

Read “How Augsburg is going all Mark Twain” on the MPR website.

Visit the River Semester site to find additional program details and event announcements.

MPR talks with Dean Gort about Auggie Plan

MPRLogoIn late May, officials from Augsburg College and Minneapolis Community and Technical College launched the Auggie Plan, a guaranteed pathway to a four-year degree for MCTC students who earn a certain GPA and who follow a particular path at MCTC. Students in the program can take a range of liberal arts courses with the knowledge the courses will be accepted by Augsburg. Listen to Minnesota Public Radio’s story, “MCTC students receive clear ticket to Augsburg College,” which included an interview with Amy Strohmeier Gort, dean of arts and sciences.

MPR features Midnimo program’s Aar Maanta residency


The Cedar Cultural Center and several other Minneapolis organizations hosted popular London-based Somali singer Aar Maanta in early April as part of the Midnimo series, a two-year partnership with Augsburg College to build cross-cultural awareness, knowledge, and understanding of Somali culture through music.

The Minneasota Public Radio story “Aar Maanta is the voice of a new Somali generation” discussed the ways in which Aar Maanta’s music resonates with Minnesotans and rejuvenates the Somali music scene.

Music therapist Sandi Holten ’82 tells MPR how music helps Parkinson’s patients

MPRLogoAugsburg College alumna and music therapist Sandi Holten ’82 was featured on MPR News in a special piece for Minnesota Sounds & Voices. As a kid, Holten dropped out of piano lessons believing that music wasn’t going to play a large part in her life, but today she uses music to strengthen muscles and spirits for many people living with Parkinson’s in the Twin Cities.

Visit the MPR News website to learn more about Holten’s work in the story, “Music helps keep Parkinson’s patients going.”

MPR airs Nobel Peace Prize Forum conversation on refugee crises

MPR's Tom Weber, left, talks with Daniel Wordsworth of the American Refugee Committee.

MPR’s Tom Weber, left, talks with Daniel Wordsworth of the American Refugee Committee.

Minnesota Public Radio aired a presentation from the Nobel Peace Prize Forum by Daniel Wordsworth, director of the American Refugee Committee, about the ARC’s humanitarian programs in 11 countries. After Wordsworth’s presentation, he participated in a question and answer session moderated by MPR’s Tom Weber. Listen to “American Refugee Committee director on the future of refugees” on the MPR website.

EAST program scholars talk with Minnesota Public Radio

MPRLogoMinnesota Public Radio’s Tim Post profiled Augsburg College’s East African Student to Teacher (EAST) program, which works to recruit and train teachers of East African descent in an effort to help close the K-12 achievement gap.

The program, directed by Audrey Lensmire, assistant professor of education, told Post that by “having more teachers of color in our K-12 system, their professional voice will be shared by their colleagues.”

Post spoke with two current EAST scholars, Abdiasis Hirsi and Asma Ibrahim. Hirsi, who teaches at Wellstone International High School, was born in Somalia and raised in Kenya. He shared with Post that when he was only 19, Hirsi helped start a school in Nairobi to teach English to Somali refugees. Ibrahim, who shared with Post that she was born in Pakistan to Somali refugees, said she had a difficult time as a student in connecting with her teachers in Owatonna. She hopes to become a teacher to help students who are like her become comfortable enough to learn.

EAST is funded by the Collaborative Urban Educator Program and received $390,000 for two school years including 2013-14 to 2014-15. Additional funding is now being sought from the Minnesota State Legislature. State Sen. Kari Dziedzic has introduced a bill to nearly double funding over the next two years.

Listen or read “East African teachers connect with younger versions of themselves” on the website of MPR News. Learn more about the EAST program.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter talks with MPR before presentation to sold-out crowd at Nobel Peace Prize Forum

U.S. President Jimmy Carter, an honored Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, spoke at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum on March 6.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter, an honored Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, spoke at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum on March 6.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who was an honored Laureate featured at the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Forum, spoke with Minnesota Public Radio prior to his presentation to a sold-out crowd of 650 delegates to the Forum. Carter spoke with MPR’s Tom Crann about the lack of world leaders who are peacemakers. “We don’t have a global champion of peace like Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi now,” he told Crann. “None of the government leaders who represent the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are notable for promoting peace.” Listen to “President Jimmy Carter: There’s a lack of peacemakers among world leaders.”

Imam, Pastor share story about transition from enemies to friends

Rev. Mark Hanson, left, moderates a panel at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum with Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye.

Rev. Mark Hanson, left, moderates a panel at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum with Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye.

Minnesota Public Radio last week interviewed Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye about their journey from mortal enemies to dear friends. The two men, each who headed religious militia in Nigeria, shared their story of reconciliation and forgiveness at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. “The same energy that we use to promote division we are using it now constructively,” Wuye said in the interview with MPR’s Tom Crann. Listen to the interview, “Enemies to Peacemakers.”