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Bernhard M. Christensen Symposium// Fine Arts and Humanities Convocation

Richard Rodriguez: “Living Religion”
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Richard Rodriguez has been hailed by The Washington Post as one of the most eloquent and probing public intellectuals in the country.” Because of three memoirs, because of his television essays for nearly twenty years on The NewsHour on PBS, and because of his essays in newspapers and magazines in the U.S. and Europe, he has become the most prominent Hispanic intellectual in America.

The son of Mexican immigrants–a self-described “scholarship boy”–Rodriguez, in his first and most famous book, “Hunger of Memory,” wrote about the painful but necessary experience of assimilation and of his difficult Americanization in the classroom. He was criticized by some readers and celebrated by others for voicing skepticism about bilingual education and affirmative action. Rodriguez remains adamant in his opinion that class is a more important factor for one’s life in America than race or ethnicity.

His second book, “Days of Obligation, An Argument With My Mexican Father” was a loving but unsentimental assessment of cultural tensions between what he calls “Catholic Mexico” and “Protestant America” and the dilemma of being “Mexican American”. “Days of Obligation” was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Non-Fiction.

Over the years, he has written about a variety of subjects, from the death of America’s newspapers to the meaning of burritos to body-building. Since September 11th, he has been focused on religious violence. While Rodriguez is openly gay—has written poignantly of the AIDS epidemic and the deaths of many friends—he remains Roman Catholic. (Indeed, he often describes himself as “Irish Catholic”—because of the influence of Irish nuns and priests on his upbringing). He also describes himself as “brown”—belonging to a mix of races. And he predicted the eventual “browning” of America in his acclaimed book, “Brown: The Last Discovery of America.” He recently released “Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography.”

In 1993, he was awarded the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. It is the highest award the federal government gives to recognize work done in the humanities.

The Center for Wellness and Counseling Convocation

Antony Stately: “Running into the Storm: Renewal of the Spirit”

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Antony Stately (Ojibwe, Oneida) received his PhD with an emphasis in Clinical, Multicultural and Community Psychology from Alliant International University in 1997. Previously, Stately has worked as the director of client services at AIDS Project Los Angeles, and as inaugural program director for Los Angeles-based Seven Generations Child and Family Counseling Services, a community mental health clinic serving American Indian children and families. As a clinical psychologist, he has provided clinical services to child victims of abuse and mental illness, runaway and homeless youth, as well as the HIV/AIDS-impacted community.

Co-presented with American Indian Student Services. Co-sponsored by the Augsburg College Education, American Indian Studies, Social Work, and History departments.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Convocation

Chuck D: “Race, Rap, and Reality: Supporting Our Youth in the Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as They Face the Unique Challenges of Today”

January 18, 2016

Chuck D is the leader and co-founder of legendary rap group Public Enemy, author of two critically acclaimed books, and a political activist, publisher, radio host, and producer.

Chuck D redefined rap music and hip hop culture with the release of Public Enemy’s debut album in 1987, Yo! Bum Rush The Show, which delivered a powerful articulation of the realities facing black people in the late twentieth century. With an unprecedented lyrical eloquence, Public Enemy has continued to stress the importance of history and self-determination in the forward movement of all who have been oppressed. Between 1987 and 2009, with Chuck D at the helm, Public Enemy has released 13 albums, toured 63 countries, and influenced hip hop communities, social justice struggles, and political activism throughout the world.

Chuck D has been named one of the “50 most important performers in rock and roll history” by Rolling Stone magazine; one of the “100 Most Influential Black Americans” by Ebony Magazine; and in 2013, Chuck D and Public Enemy were elected into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has been featured and/or interviewed in more than 50 documentaries and has appeared in numerous public service announcements for national peace and the Partnership for a Drug Free America. He has also been a national spokesperson for Rock the Vote, the National Urban League, Americans for the Arts Council, and the National Alliance for African-American Athletes.

Chuck D continues to make music and to write prolifically on technology, politics, rap and soul music, and race in the United States.

The Batalden Seminar in Applied Ethics

Donald Warne: “Traditional Lakota Approaches to Health Disparities: Connecting People and the Environment”

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

“Traditional Lakota Approaches to Health Disparities: Connecting People and the Environment”

Donald Warne, MD, MPH, is professor and chair of the Department of Public Health in the College of Health Professions at North Dakota State University, and is the senior policy advisor to the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Health Board. Warne is a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe from Pine Ridge, SD, and comes from a long line of traditional healers and medicine men. He received his doctor of medicine from Stanford University School of Medicine and his MPH from Harvard School of Public Health.

The Koryne Horbal Lecture

Nekima Levy-Pounds: “Justice Now or Never! From the Civil Rights Movement to #BlackLivesMatter and Beyond”

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Nekima Levy-Pounds will discuss how the #BlackLivesMatter Movement is a perpetuation of the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality that African Americans and others have been engaged in for decades. She will also review the impacts of mass incarceration, poverty, and unjust laws on poor people of color and how everyone has a role to play in the fight for justice in the 21st century.


Nekima Levy-Pounds is an award-winning professor of law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in St. Paul and the founding director of the Community Justice Project, a civil rights legal clinic. Levy-Pounds also is a civil rights attorney, legal scholar, blogger, and nationally recognized expert on issues at the intersections of race, public policy, economic justice, public education, juvenile justice, and the criminal justice system. She has received the 2016 Distinguished Service Award from the Governor’s Commission; was named one of 40 Under 40 by Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal in 2015; and in 2014 was recognized as the Minnesota Attorney of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer and one of 50 Under 50 Most Influential Law Professors of Color in the Country by Lawyers of Color magazine. Levy-Pounds currently serves as the president of the Minneapolis NAACP and has served as an advisor to Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.

Leif J. Sverdrup Lecture

Christopher W. Macosko: “Graphene: A Material From Flatland”

April 12, 2016

Graphene is the thinnest material ever discovered. These sheets of single carbon atoms are less than 0.5 nanometers thick. Its discovery was awarded the Noble Prize in Physics in 2010. Graphene has emerged as a subject of enormous scientific interest due to its exceptional electron transport, high surface area and stiffness exceeding diamond. Current applications and challenges associated with processing and scalability of graphene will be described. Transparent, conductive films are being made by floating graphene oxide on water.  Graphene is toughening plastics which can strengthen wind turbines and has resulted in a startup company. I will also share insights into enjoying God’s creation within the flatland of a large university.

Chris Macosko is a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota, where he is also Director of the Industrial Partnership for Research in Interfacial and Materials Engineering. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University, a master’s in chemical engineering from Imperial College (London), and his PhD in chemical engineering from Princeton University. In 2001, Macosko was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor for an engineering researcher.