Augsburg students benefit from world-class faculty with deep academic expertise and a love of teaching—a major reason the university is so highly ranked for undergraduate teaching.
Many Augsburg faculty are also dedicated public scholars, whose work reaches beyond the academy to shape conversations in the public square. Two recent faculty books hold broad appeal for children and parents.
Matt Maruggi, associate professor of religion and previous co-director of Augsburg’s Interfaith Scholars program, is the co-author of “Religion Around the World: A Curious Kid’s Guide to the World’s Great Faiths.” The book aims to make the world’s major faiths accessible to kids ages 8–12, sharing the complexities of different religious traditions in language young people can understand. Maruggi calls it a “gorgeous, content-heavy picture book,” with sections on Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as Native American traditions, Sikhism, Taosim, shamanism, secular humanism, interfaith families, and interfaith cooperation.
Maruggi and his co-authors Sonja Hagander and Megan Borgert-Spaniol interviewed children from different traditions about the most meaningful aspects of their faith traditions. The book highlights their perspectives as well as famous individuals (like Dorothy Day and Muhammad Ali) and organizations (like Sewa International and Bread for the World) whose religious convictions are visible in public life.
Christina Erickson, professor of social work and environmental studies, is the author of “Spanked: How Hitting Our Children Is Harming Ourselves,” a deep dive into the long-accepted practice of hitting children for learning and obedience. “Spanked” explores the historical roots, cultural supports, and social dynamics of spanking—a practice that is illegal in 62 countries, but still widely accepted here in the U.S. Erickson, who also chairs Augsburg’s social work department, comes to this topic as a social worker, a researcher, and a parent herself. In the book, she traces more than a century of research into spanking outcomes to critically assess the common narrative: “I was spanked, and I turned out fine.”
Erickson was featured by columnist Laura Yuen in a recent Star Tribune article about “Spanked.” The book gives parents, health care providers, educators, social workers, faith leaders, and anyone interested in power and family dynamics a platform to respectfully discuss what spanking communicates to children.