Sabo Center Collaboration: Cultivating Civic Skills for Community-Centered Healthcare

When most people think of nursing, the first association that comes to mind is not usually “political.” But the Nursing Department at Augsburg College, in partnership with staff at the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, is encouraging their students to think of nursing as just that: public, change-making work, focused on relationship-building, public dialogue, and grassroots efforts in local context.

Beginning in 2009, the Augsburg College Nursing Department began collaborating with the Sabo Center, bringing in Public Achievement Organizer Dennis Donovan to teach graduate students about beginning organizing skills, such as one-to-one relational meetings. In the years since, the Augsburg nursing program has turned to social change-making as a key component of its course curriculum, focusing on the social barriers to health in addition to bedside care. After receiving a grant from the Augsburg College president’s office in 2014, the Nursing Department worked with Sabo Center staff to train department faculty about civic skills, and to subsequently embed these concepts into curriculum and coursework. Such core civic skills include one-to-one relational meetings, formulating public narrative, deliberative dialogue, power mapping, and public evaluation.

Katie Clark, Nursing Instructor and Director of Augsburg Central Health Commons and Health Commons in Cedar-Riverside, incorporated these civic skills into a graduate-level class focused on unique models of care and communities as the foundation of health, utilizing a social justice lens. For their final project, students had to apply civic skills in the context of their care site. The impact on student’s professional self-understanding was immense, according to Clark. Because of the incorporation of civic-focused strategies in their nursing practice, “students think about how they can create change in different ways. I don’t think people in nursing really think of themselves as political,” Clark said, “Nurses are more caregivers…(but) students get out of that mindset and think, ‘Oh, I could have a one-on-one (relational meeting) with that person.’ I see students thinking about engaging in their community differently.”

The collaboration with the Sabo Center has complimented the nursing department’s commitment to transcultural nursing, a model for nursing that holistically considers culture, life patterns, and other social factors while providing culturally competent care. Health and people are viewed not as discreet cases, but as individuals who are incorporated into webs of relation and inhabit different ways of being in the world. Nursing thus becomes concerned with community health, examining how and where people belong, the strength of human connections, and health inequities. Rooted in community-based praxis, nursing professionals know not only how to administer direct care, but how to build relationships, formulate a public narrative about community health, and advocate for change.

The community-based, transcultural focus of Augsburg’s nursing program has also intersected with another Sabo Center program, Campus Kitchen. For the past 4 years, the Nursing Department and the Sabo Center have partnered to host an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer, with a particular focus on the intersection of the Health Commons and the Campus Kitchen-run Augsburg Community Garden. Through the relationship between the two programs, more Cedar-Riverside residents have been engaged with the garden; additionally, the relationship between Health Commons and Campus Kitchen has been key to the success of the farmer’s market gleaning project, with a neighborhood health liaison hired by Health Commons spreading the word about the program and distributing food.

Partnerships and collaboration are a hallmark of the Sabo Center’s work, and the relationship with the Nursing Department embodies our mission to foster civic agency, to help cultivate public, change-making skills, and to forge connections with the local community. Read more about our mission and purpose.

Want to learn more? Visit the Health Commons website, the Augsburg College Nursing Department website, the Augsburg Campus Kitchen website, and the Sabo Center website.

Jane Addams School for Democracy comes to a close

After twenty years of democratic education and practice, the Jane Addams School for Democracy met for the last time earlier this month. From the beginning, its founders sought to free and cultivate the talents, cultures, and interests of people from diverse backgrounds and traditions and engage in a minimally structured, non-hierarchical way that allows participants to shape the agenda. The Jane Addams School for Democracy brought immigrant families, college students and other community members together to do public work and learning. It was inspired by the vision of democracy, productive citizenship, and popular education held by settlement house pioneers like Jane Addams, who created Hull House in Chicago in 1889.

As we consider the current state of our democracy, the principles and practices of Jane Addams School are a much needed antidote to the polarization and division that colors public discourse. We have faith that the lessons of Jane Addams School can continue to support a more just and democratic world. In 2007, the Kettering Foundation published a book called Voices of Hope: The Story of the Jane Addams School for Democracy which features 22 essays by 12 Jane Addams School participants, including non-native English speakers, and more than 75 photos.

Profile: Grace Corbin, Campus Kitchen Student Leader

Photo of Grace Corbin
Grace Corbin preps a meal for one of Campus Kitchen’s partner sites.

For Grace Corbin, food justice is not just about making sure everyone can eat. As a participant in Augsburg College’s Campus Kitchen program throughout her four years at Augsburg—this year as a student leader—Grace has come to understand the sharing of food as an essential aspect of breaking down social and cultural barriers. Whether it is through serving food to elders at the Ebenezer Towers, gleaning food from the Mill City Farmers Market, or growing food in the Augsburg Community Garden, Grace sees all of the aspects of Campus Kitchen as opportunities for relationship building with community members, fellows students, and staff. Relationships, she says, are key to building equity when it comes to food access, and health and community well-being more generally.

Grace’s time with Campus Kitchen has also allowed her to develop skills and interests that she might not otherwise have explored. Grace credits her experience with Campus Kitchen—particularly learning about food systems and food waste—as inspiring her interest in environmental sustainability and ultimately her interest in pursuing faith-based environmental work after graduation. Co-leading a student plot in the Augsburg Community Garden and our weekly gleaning efforts this summer provided her with an experiential learning opportunity that quickly pushed her out of her comfort zone to learn about vegetables, event planning, the logistics of food distribution, and the diverse community that surrounds Augsburg’s campus. Grace took on the challenge: “I learned a lot of things about myself…(and) how willing I am to challenge myself.” Participating in Campus Kitchen was even a physical feat: over the course of last summer, Grace and a fellow student lifted over 5,000 pounds (!) of leftover produce from the Mill City Farmers Market and distributed it weekly to elders in a nearby apartment complex.

Augsburg Campus Kitchen is part of the national Campus Kitchens Project, which focuses on

  • Strengthening Bodies by using existing resources to meet hunger and nutritional needs in our communities
  • Empowering Minds by providing leadership and service-learning opportunities to college students, and educational benefits to adults, seniors, children, and families in need
  • Building Communities by fostering a new generation of community-minded adults through resourceful and mutually beneficial partnerships among students, social service agencies, businesses, and universities

Campus Kitchen at Augsburg focuses on four aspects of food justice: Food to Share (free meals, on-campus food shelf, and gleaning), Food to Grow (community garden), Food to Buy (farmers market), and Food to Know (food education).

Interested in learning more about the work of Campus Kitchen through the Sabo Center at Augsburg College? Take a look at our website or check out our day-to-day on Facebook. And you can always volunteer! Contact Campus Kitchen director Allyson Green by emailing


Rep. Frank Hornstein on the Use of Holocaust and Nazi Comparisons in American Politics

November 29, 2:00-3:00 p.m. | Riverside Room, Christensen Center | Augsburg University

In the last several years we have seen an increase in the use of Holocaust and Nazi comparisons in American politics. Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL, MN House District 61A) spent the last year examining the issue of Nazi and Holocaust analogies in American politics as a Sabo Fellow with the Sabo Center for Democracy & Citizenship. To explore this topic more, the Sabo Center for Democracy & Citizenship partnered with Rep. Hornstein to host a presentation and discussion entitled, “The Use of the Holocaust and Nazi Comparisons in Contemporary American Politics.” The event was moderated by Rep. Hornstein and featured a presentation and conversation with Dr. Gavriel Rosenfeld, Professor of History at Fairfield University. Watch the presentation on YouTube.

Sabo Fellow Rep. Frank Hornstein: The Use of Holocaust and Nazi Analogies in American Politics

Photo of Rep. Frank Hornstein (MN House District 61A)
Rep. Frank Hornstein (MN House District 61A)

When Frank Hornstein began serving as a representative for Minnesota House District 61A in 2002, he started to notice an unsettling phenomenon. From references to smoking bans to the conduct of teachers unions, Hornstein observed colleagues on the floor of the Minnesota House comparing a variety of issues to the Holocaust or to Nazi control. Nazi and Holocaust analogies, Hornstein found, were proliferating in wider American political discourse as well, with Nazi comparisons made in debates on issues such as abortion, climate change, and gun control.

These flippant and ahistorical analogical uses of Nazi and Holocaust terminology worried Hornstein. As survivors of the Holocaust die and there are no eye-witnesses left, what damage might casual use of Nazi analogies do to the historical memory and interpretation of the Holocaust? When we normalize the language of Nazism by using it in reference to a bill or political debate, do we lose sight of its horror—especially when Nazi symbols are being used today as genuine threats? What are the consequences for civil discourse when Nazi and Holocaust analogies are used, and when are they legitimately warranted? How might these references weaken democratic discourse?

Hornstein had an opportunity to explore these questions in-depth as a Sabo Fellow with the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship at Augsburg College. Sabo Fellows are community-based leaders and scholars interested in exploring a question of public significance while engaging with students and the Augsburg community. In the past year, Hornstein’s time as a Sabo Fellow led to research, writing projects, and presentations about the use and misuse of Nazi and Holocaust comparisons in American politics, culminating with a public presentation and conversation at Augsburg College on Tuesday, November 29, from 2-3 p.m.

The presentation and discussion, entitled, “The Use of the Holocaust and Nazi Comparisons in Contemporary American Politics,” was moderated by Rep. Hornstein, and featured a presentation by Dr. Gavriel D. Rosenfeld, Professor of History and Director of the Undergraduate Program in Judaic Studies at Fairfield University. Dr. Rosenfeld’s scholarship focuses on the history and memory of the Holocaust and Nazi Germany in popular culture, and his scholarship provided a theoretical foundation for Hornstein’s exploration of Holocaust and Nazi analogies in the American political sphere.

In a fraught political climate in which Nazi analogies are on the rise, Hornstein’s research is timely and increasingly important for those who strive for a democratic society and institutions.

Missed joining us in-person or online? Watch the presentation and discussion from the event.


MARTIN OLAV SABO SYMPOSIUM: Election 2016: From Lines in the Sand to Governing Together?

Martin Sabo once said that the most important quality in an elected official isn’t how well they speak but how well they listen. At this symposium, panelists will consider how to come together to get this done in a climate of divisive politics.


Former United Senator, David Durenberger

Minnesota House District 65A Representative, Rena Moran

Minneapolis Ward 5 City Council Member, Blong Yang

Star Tribune editorial writer and columnist, Lori Sturdevant (moderator)

Tuesday, October 25th
Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center

This event is free and open to the public.

Cooking and building community with Campus Kitchen!

20160627_135606Hello! Kenani and DJ here, Augsburg Campus Kitchen’s summer 2016 Step-Up Interns. This summer we were placed with Augsburg Campus Kitchen for our first ever job through the City of Minneapolis Step-Up program. All summer we have been cooking and serving meals for youth at the Brian Coyle Center summer program. In addition, on Mondays we helped teach gardening, cooking, and nutrition lessons to Brian Coyles’ K-8th graders. The theme for the summer was Top Chef and each week we had a cooking competition and awarded three participants Top Chef of the week. Thanks to grant support from The Campus Kitchens Project, These students were able to bring home a bag of groceries and recipes to their families so they could recreate the meals with them.

IMG_20160818_120719This past week in Top Chef we had a salsa competition where students were given a certain amount of fake money to buy the fresh ingredients to make their special salsas. The students had to be creative in making unique salsa while still making sure they had enough money to buy all the ingredients for their salsa. The kids had tons of fun making salsa and many of them were surprised how good their salsa turned out. For instance, a few students challenged themselves by putting less common ingredients such as black beans or pineapple in their salsa and still ended up loving it! We were really impressed that almost all the students liked their salsa – we learned it is almost impossible to make bad salsa from fresh ingredients!

Throughout the summer we learned about a community that is different than our own. We realized how everyone in Cedar Riverside seems to know each other and how connected they are to their community. Even though we were out of our comfort zone a little at first we were able to make new friends and learn new things, not to mention becoming all-star dishwashers and building our resumes!


The Oz Behind the Curtain – Phil O’Neil: Public Achievement Coach


PA Group: Animal Rescuers

PA Project: Community 3k Walk/Run Fundraiser

Often times, the education system can be seen as rigid and formulaic, limiting the potential of young people. Phil O’Neil, a three-year veteran public achievement coach, knows this well. However, he sees public achievement as a way to break the mold and this has inspired him to pursue a career as an educator.

Continue reading “The Oz Behind the Curtain – Phil O’Neil: Public Achievement Coach”

MARTIN OLAV SABO SYMPOSIUM: Climate Change After Paris: How do we Get There?

March 8, 2016, 7:00-8:30 p.m. | Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center

This panel discussion will focus on practical action to be taken after the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference. Panelists include: Ellen Anderson, Executive Director, Minnesota Energy Transition Lab; Ann Hunt, Environmental Policy Director, City of St. Paul; and Amy Fredregill, Resource Planning and Strategy Manager, Xcel Energy. Tom Berg will moderate.

This event is free and open to the public.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T – Mukwa uses Public Achievement to encourage others to respect different cultures

PA Profile 1


5th grader at Maxfield Elementary School

PA Group: Culture and Diversity

PA Project: Multicultural Cookbook

Public Achievement creates free space where young people develop the power to take leadership in at least part of their education and impact the world around them. Students choose a community issue they are passionate about and work for an entire school year to develop a solution, using “everyday citizen politics” to work across differences. Throughout the process, students develop public confidence, learn how to organize and become leaders. Continue reading “R.E.S.P.E.C.T – Mukwa uses Public Achievement to encourage others to respect different cultures”