Garry W. Hesser

Professor Emeritus, Sabo Chair for Citizenship and Learning

Garry Hesser is Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Division of Social and Behavioral Science Division. He teaches courses in Community, Urban Sociology and Urban Planning, and Creativity and Problem Solving and is the recipient of the 1998 Thomas Erhlich Award for national leadership and scholarship in advancing the field of service-learning as a teacher, researcher, and community partner.

“What drew me to sociology in the 1960s was my involvement in civil rights, the challenge of ‘human relations’ in a multicultural world, and issues related to the Vietnam War. I was asking the question, ‘What makes community possible?’

For me, then and now, the function of education has never been primarily to transmit a common body of knowledge, but to prepare students in an open-ended way for constant changes in life, to be more comfortable in the face of all the insecurity and change that they face, and to be active, critically reflective citizens in a democracy.”

Garry assists students in taking fuller advantage of Augsburg’s urban location through wide ranging internships, community service-learning and cooperative education.

“My students come into contact with some remarkable community activists and professionals who bring alive the concepts of ‘agency’, serving as role models for what informed, savvy people and organizations can accomplish in transforming the social forces that shape their context.”

Garry is past president of the National Society for Experiential Education (NSEE) and of the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) and has led workshops on service-learning and experiential education on over forty campuses and at professional meetings, including AAHE, AC&U, CIC, Campus Compact, and ASA. He is a member of the National Review Board for the Scholarship of Engagement and represents the field of sociology on the AAHE-Campus Compact Consulting Corps. In addition, he is a Minnesota Campus Compact Fellow collaborating on “Multicultural Education for Social Change.”

He has served on the Faculty Senate and is the recipient of the distinguished faculty award for teaching. Hesser chairs the interdisciplinary Metro-Urban Studies Program.



  • B.A. Phillips University
  • M.A. University of Notre Dame
  • M.Div. Union Theological Seminary
  • Ph.D. University of Notre Dame


  • “Experiential Education as a Liberating Art”
  • “Principles of Good Practice in Service-Learning”
  • “Examining Communities and Urban Change: Service-Learning as Collaborative Research”
  • “Benefits and Educational Outcomes of Internships”
  • “Faculty Assessment of Student Learning: Outcomes Attributed to Service-Learning”
  • “Internships and the Sociological Perspective”
  • Editor of Cultivating the Sociological Imagination, and more than 30 other publications which include research in the area of housing and neighborhood revitalization.