New Frontiers in Civic Revitalization: Local Democracy Summit

The Public Work Academy at Augsburg University and the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service are co-presenting a local democracy summit in Wausau, Wisconsin.

New Frontiers in Civic Revitalization:
Local Democracy Summit

November 15, 2018 • 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

UW Center for Civic Engagement
625 Stewart Ave Wausau, WI 54403

 Register Now!   Registration is limited to the first 75 attendees

The theory and practice of “public work” are transforming civic and professional practice in the United States and abroad.           – David Mathews, President, Kettering Foundation

Communities across the nation face fragmentation and polarization. Yet cities and towns, large and small, also have the potential to be the seedbed for a rebirth of citizenship and democracy – providing an alternative to the national politics of blame and gridlock.

This summit at the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service will introduce civic leaders from Wisconsin to the new Midwest Public Work Academy’s Small Cities Democracy Network located at Augsburg University in Minneapolis. Participants will:

  • Engage in a high-level conversation with thought leaders across multiple sectors – including business, education, government, health care, foundations, and more.
  • Share perspectives, examples and leading practices in citizen-centered efforts to address public problems and create shared community resources across partisan and other differences.
  • Learn from case studies of effective citizen-government and cross-partisan partnerships for the common good such as “Clear Vision Eau Claire,” “Better Angels” and “Public Achievement.”
  • Receive training from internationally recognized leaders in public work, including Harry Boyte, Marie Ström and Mike Huggins.
  • Receive a free copy of Harry Boyte’s new book, “Awakening Democracy through Public Work.”
  • Learn about how your organization or community can plug into the growing movement around public work being organized by the new Midwest Public Work Academy based at Augsburg.

Cost: $75 per person (includes lunch and book) For information, contact info@wipps.org or call 715-261-6388.

Auggies Engage

 

Auggies Engage​ aims to co-create a shared vision of civic and campus life with fellow students, problem-solving for the benefit of the whole community. Do not underestimate the power of your voice. We don’t.

Throughout September and October, incoming first year and transfer students meet with a student leader on campus to build a relationship and explore your power and purpose at Augsburg University. Your student leader will reach out to you via your Augsburg email account to schedule a time to meet.

As an incoming Transfer or First Year student, you will have the opportunity

  • To connect with current student leaders with whom they may not necessarily connect to create understanding around shared interests, values, goals, and passions;
  • To begin to inform students’ sense of agency and community on campus; and
  • To ask any questions or share any concerns they have regarding their first few weeks on campus.

Engaged Student

Engaged Students operate from a mindset that campus and community change is a possibility, and that new realities can be realized. They build relationships and alliances with fellow students, staff, and faculty; and attempt to build their capacity by understanding others’ values, cultures, backgrounds, and experiences (adapted from Strom, 2006).

Contact Auggies Engage

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to your student leader or to the Auggies Engage team at auggiesengageprogram@augsburg.edu.

Marina Christensen Justice Award

Every year at Commencement, one graduating senior receives the Marina Christensen Justice Award for demonstrated dedication to community and working in solidarity with marginalized people. This award recognizes work that is in keeping with the personal and professional life of Marina Christensen Justice, who courageously and effectively reached out to disadvantaged people and communities.

Nominations are submitted in the spring with nominations for other Augsburg Leadership Awards, and are judged on the following criteria:

  • The depth and breadth of community involvement
  • A strong commitment to addressing the systemic roots of the issues
  • A personal and professional commitment to work with marginalized communities
  • Bold and courageous leadership
  • Authentic and sustained engagement with community and issues.

 

Minnesota Campus Compact Award Winners

Each year Minnesota Campus Compact presents awards at their annual statewide summit. At this year’s summit, an Augsburg student, staff member, and community partner were recognized for their leadership and collaborative work. The 2018 award recipients were:

Student Leadership Award: Janet Nguyen

As the student food shelf coordinator this year, Janet built a base of committed volunteers, increased participation and donations, and even navigated a successful recovery from a small fire. Janet brought a bold, equity-focused lens to the food shelf by diversifying offerings and working to destigmatize food insecurity.

Civic Engagement Steward Award: Jane Becker

Jane Becker, Augsburg’s Head Volleyball Coach, organizes more than 500 athletes and their coaches each year to engage with youth in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood and beyond. She has created new summer sports clinics, an on-campus homework help program, and an alternative spring break program for young people.

Community Partner Award: Cedar Riverside Community School

Cedar Riverside Community School is the only school in the Cedar Riverside constantly adapts to best serve the educational needs of an ever-changing population. School leaders and teaching staff are committed to deep, reciprocal partnership with Augsburg, so that CRCS and Augsburg students are prepared successful futures.

 

 

RELATIONAL SKILLS FOR BRIDGING DIVIDES

In this climate of political polarization, people with differing perspectives and opinions struggle to engage in productive conversation. We tend to be quick to defend or demonize, deepening the divide that exists in the American people. Even when we want to reach out to those with different perspectives, we often don’t know how.

May 7, 2018, 1:30-3:30 p.m. | Marshall Room, Christensen Center

This workshop offers a sampling of two different strategies to engage more productively. The first hour will be devoted to learning some of the skills developed by Better Angels for listening and speaking in difficult conversations. In the second hour we’ll put those skills into practice with a deliberative dialogue on How to Prevent Mass Shootings in the United States.

This event is free and open to the public. Register here to participate.

As participants in this workshop you will be the first to be invited to a full-day seminar on these themes and practices will be offered on November 3, 2018.

PUBLIC MISSION: LESSONS FROM THE EAST PROGRAM

The Sabo Center’s Public Mission series will feature presentations and conversations on our institutional public purpose and the ways in which we work toward it. At this first Public Mission event, Audrey Lensmire, Associate Professor of Education, presents key lessons from the East African Student to Teacher program and explores how these lessons might apply to other diversity and inclusion efforts at Augsburg University.

Wednesday, March 28th
12:00-1:00pm
Oren Gateway Center 100

Since 2013 the EAST Program has been awarding full tuition scholarships to people of East African descent who wish to become licensed K-12 teachers. Funded by the state of Minnesota, EAST is nationally recognized for its efforts to diversify the teacher workforce. EAST’s success can be attributed to the committed and collaborative efforts by diverse stakeholders across campus and the local community.

Photo of Audrey Lensmire
Audrey Lensmire

MARTIN OLAV SABO SYMPOSIUM: Are the “Nones” Done with Civic Engagement?

Organizing the religiously unaffiliated in today’s climate of polarization.

This symposium features an address by Phil Zuckerman, professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, with responses by Jacqui Frost and Evan Stewart of the University of Minnesota.

A panel of community organizers and elected officials, moderated by Penny Edgell, will follow the address.

Wednesday, February 28th
6:00-8:00pm
Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion

This event is free and open to the public.

Serving up food and fun with Campus Kitchen Step-Up interns

Hi my name is Davonte and I worked as one of Augsburg’s Campus Kitchen summer Step-up interns and it was my first ever job experience. Over the summer I’ve acquired a variety of job experiences and practiced many skills such as cooking, gardening, and researching food systems. Every Monday through Thursday I served food with the youth at the Brian Coyle Center and on Saturday I participated in the gleaning at the Mill City Farmer’s Market where we collected fresh donations of produce and gave it elders at The Cedars senior apartment building in Cedar-Riverside. It was a lot of hard work but it was also very fun and well worth the time. For example, going to the Guthrie Theatre during my shift on Saturday to enjoy the views made the time go so much faster.

This summer while cooking I learned new things such as new recipes made from fresh and healthy ingredients that ended up tasting really good like zucchini muffins and cucumber popsicles. Also one of my favorite parts of the job was just making other people happy by giving them food. It’s a rewarding experience.  

-Davonte

 

Hey, my name is Raykel and this past summer I worked for Campus Kitchen through the Minneapolis Step Up program. “What’s Campus Kitchen you ask?” Well Campus Kitchen is a food organization that is basically built off of donations. Any food not used in the Augsburg kitchen that has already been prepared but wasn’t eaten is given to Campus Kitchen to be reused. We have a wide variety of the kinds of food that we get, although once the food is put into the fridge we have a week to use it and most times it gets used and if not we freeze it. Another question you probably have is “Where does the food go once prepared everyday?” Well, Monday-Thursday the food is made and distributed to the Brian Coyle Center, for the children and even the adults (depending on how much we have left) but kids always eat first. Fridays, twice a month we take food to the elders at Ebenezer Tower Apartments and eat dinner with them. Campus Kitchen is like an organization that is always giving back to the community. Did I mention the garden where the community gets together and grows what they want to?

This job gives many opportunities. For instance, you meet people at a college and you learn things about the college that you didn’t know before. Also, you can put it on your resume. Plus if you ever need a job when you come to college then you know a place that you don’t even have to leave campus for. There were many memories and skills that we made and learned over the summer but there’s a couple that stand out to me:  knowledge of plants and knowledge of cooking in the kitchen. For two weeks in the summer time we had a gap in our schedule because the Brian Coyle Center was shut down so we helped out MN Urban Debate League camp. During, before, or even after their lunch we always could eat lunch so who wouldn’t go back for 3rds? This job helped me gain a lot of knowledge about many things and I’m very grateful for a great job.

Here’s some photos from the summer time:

1st photo is from the Garden

2nd photo was when we prepared the food by ourselves

-Raykel N.

 

Interfaith at Cedar Commons Fosters Connection, Understanding

People sitting around tables in Cedar Commons sharing a meal.
Attendees at an Interfaith at Cedar Commons event share a meal and conversation.

Twice a month, students and community members gather in the Cedar Commons space adjacent to Augsburg’s campus, intentionally coming together to build relationships across faith and non-faith traditions and learn from each other’s experiences, stories, and convictions. Coordinated through the Sabo Center for Democracy & Citizenship, Interfaith at Cedar Commons is one of many initiatives based at the Sabo Center that connect the Augsburg campus and the wider community. Gathering around a topic and often a meal, participants discuss subjects ranging from Islamophobia to religious holidays, human rights, political activism, and creation stories. The inter-generational group involves faith communities from the Augsburg campus and the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, and integrates the Interfaith Scholars program, cultivating student and community-based leadership.

Shoshana Freund and Bethany Keyl are two Augsburg students who have been involved with Interfaith at Cedar Commons as current or past interns with the core team of students and community members that plans the gatherings. They described the interfaith events as open, welcoming spaces where topics and faith and non-faith perspectives are understood to be complex. For Shoshana, an atheist, the complexity of these discussions were refreshing. Speaking from her experience on the planning team, Shoshana described how the topics chosen for the events are designed to help people from all paths–including those who do not practice a religion–to find common ground through storytelling and experience sharing. Often this leads to new, profound understandings of people and communities who might otherwise have remained “Other.” Interfaith is an opportunity for students and others to see that “people of other belief systems are not antagonists,” Shoshana said. “Their beliefs don’t exist to contradict yours.” Bethany noted that the gatherings are an opportunity to find “common ground” and to “foster understanding” through the experiences and stories of people who come from different traditions.

Beyond story-sharing and relationship-building, Interfaith at Cedar Commons is also focused on building skills for inter-faith organizing. Activities such as power-mapping, one-to-one trainings, and other aspects of community organizing have been regular additions to the 2016-17 school year interfaith meetings. These skill-based sessions, along with the practice of having nuanced and complex conversations about meaning, core commitments, and the role of different faith traditions in the world with community members from campus and beyond, makes Interfaith at Cedar Commons a program that embodies the Sabo Center’s commitment to “create a culture of civic agency and engagement among students, faculty, staff, and our broader community so that graduates are architects of change and pioneers in work of public significance.”

Curious to learn more? Learn more about Cedar Commons using the following link:

http://www.augsburg.edu/cedarcommons/

Learn more about Interfaith @ Cedar Commons by using the following link:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/914923151875489/

“Citizen Teachers” address teacher shortage in Rochester

 

Interested in education programs in Rochester? Learn more.

 

Three Solutions to Rochester’s Critical Teacher Shortage

By Kate H. Elliott

Each thread of the state’s teacher shortage has tangled into a giant, seemingly hopeless mess—leaving educators and communities somewhat paralyzed as to which string to sort out first.

But Kaycee Rogers, director of education at Augsburg College’s Rochester site, believes in Rochester’s nimble fingers. The overwhelming statistics, she said, aren’t factoring in the power of human energy, the collective strength of community, and the innovative connections mounting among educators and community leaders. Rogers is among a growing cadre of “citizen teachers” working together to increase teacher support and retention, remove legislative and licensure obstacles, and empower neighbors to fill vacant positions within the community’s second largest employer—Rochester Public Schools.

Complex, Mounting Problems

On the rise since the 1980s, Minnesota’s teacher shortage has achieved crisis levels in the past decade. The Minnesota Department of Education, for instance, reported hiring more than 3,500 teachers who lacked necessary licenses, with special education and English Learner teachers among the toughest positions to fill. And students in these populations are increasing at roughly the same rate as the decline of those licensed to teach them.

To wrap these factors in even more red tape—ahem, string—are mounting paperwork and licensure requirements, which are made worse by the fact that some required licenses are not offered at the state’s colleges and universities.

Embrace Diversity, Empower ‘Citizen Teachers’

But Rogers remains hopeful. She uses the phrase “citizen teacher” to reiterate the role of teachers in public life and the importance of community-focused, culturally-relevant education. Rogers said the solution is not “out there,” but within each city, within Rochester.

“Rochester is a resettlement hub for refugees; and with several industry leaders, including the Mayo Clinic, our community draws non-native English speakers, who often start out in the service industry,” Rogers said. “We want to reach out to people who look like our students, come from the same backgrounds—perhaps those already working with our students as teacher aides or in other supporting roles—to advance their education, and we want that education to celebrate all cultures, provide students with multiple entry points for understanding, and make a difference in our community.”

It’s well documented that students retain more and have a positive view of education when they relate to teachers and aren’t asked to check their heritage at the door, Rogers said. Growing teachers from Rochester’s diverse population will beget more teachers of color—as students see someone like them leading the class, they may want to teach the next generation, she added.

Adopt Community-Focused, Student-Led Learning

Rogers and other teacher educators in Rochester are focused on retaining teachers, particularly within the critical first five years (a period with the highest turnover rate). She said that efforts start with conversations that build into professional development and support networks that address challenges. Rogers stresses that incentives and infrastructure must coincide with initiatives to confront the roots of the shortage, including class sizes, paperwork loads, and appropriate student placement, especially for those with special needs.

Meanwhile, teacher educators and administrators are striving to improve classroom culture through support of meaningful, relevant learning experiences. As an example, Rogers shares work an Augsburg student is engaged in as part of her coursework on public achievement:

Heather Mabbitt, a special education teacher in Lyle, Minnesota, asked a group of first-12th graders: What is a problem in our community? Their response: Hunger, specifically that some students go without snack each day. Her next question: Well, what are we going to do about it? As a part of the answer, she is now guiding these students with physical and emotional disabilities to raise awareness and support for a snack pantry of healthy options.

“There’s no reason why students shouldn’t learn through experiences that matter to them, and we can give them the tools to make a difference now,” Rogers said. “We have fourth- and fifth-graders writing grants, speaking to community groups, navigating teamwork, and participating in democracy,” Rogers said. “It’s been amazing to watch our teachers transition to more of a coaching role, while students take the lead to apply classroom learning to issues and situations of meaning to them.”

Broaden the Scope of Licensures

This community-focused approach pairs well with the more comprehensive, inclusive approach emerging to address special populations. More and more colleges and universities are phasing out specializations in narrow disability categories and adopting broader licensures, like the Academic Behavioral Strategist. The ABS prepares teacher candidates to work across all classifications of mild to moderate disabilities.

“A comprehensive, inclusive approach, we believe, equips teachers to address the complex challenges of today’s classrooms and qualifies them for a wider range of teaching positions,” Rogers said. “Exposure to more teaching strategies, more specializations only helps teacher candidates adapt and innovate in order to provide students with multiple access points for understanding.”

 

Interested in education programs in Rochester? Learn more.