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“Ground Zero for Police Reform”: Professor Michael Lansing on Minneapolis Police Chief Search

Local media have turned to Augsburg professor Michael Lansing for historical context as the city of Minneapolis prepares to hire a new police chief. 

“Given the recent events, the murder of George Floyd as well as the uprising here in Minneapolis, there’s no question that the selection of a police chief is intensely important,” Lansing told reporter Jay Koll on KSTP’s Nightcast last week. 

The three finalists for Minneapolis police chief all come from outside of Minnesota—a rarity in recent decades. “Not only is it unusual, it’s noteworthy because that only tends to happen when the city has been through some kind of intense experience around policing and public safety and police-community relations,” said Lansing, who is writing a book on the history of policing in Minneapolis. He is also the co-founder, with Dr. Yohuru Williams at the University of St. Thomas, of the “Overpoliced and Underprotected in MSP” project. 

“History never repeats itself, but sometimes it rhymes,” Lansing told TPT’s Almanac. “This is one of those examples when we’re hearing some rhyming: the call for outsiders, the desperate pleas for help to change the culture that you find across the city, in communities of color, in advocacy organizations, on city council, and in the mayor’s office. And yet what’s different is that you have a rearrangement of the actual administrative structure,” with the city’s newly-appointed Commissioner of Public Safety in place.

“I think this is ground zero for police reform in the United States.” 

Read more from Michael Lansing: “Policing Politics: Labor, Race, and the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, 1945–1972” (Minnesota History magazine, 2021)

APM Reports Project on Indigenous Students Features Reuben Kitto Stately ’22

The APM Reports logo is a solid red circle with a lowercase r and a period in white text in the middle.A new audio documentary from APM Reports highlights how four Indigenous college students are using higher education to strengthen ties to their Native roots and support their people. One of the students the project follows is Reuben Kitto Stately ’22. In his segment, Stately also interviews Associate Professor Eric Buffalohead, chair of American Indian, First Nations, and Indigenous studies.

“I was pretty dead set on American Indian studies by the time I was in 10th grade,” says Stately. “I knew that American Indian studies would help me fill in the gaps for all the times in which I don’t understand colonization here in America—how have Native people from all these different nations all become American, in what ways have we totally assimilated, in what ways have we resisted?

“For my whole education, I have known that whatever I learn here at Augsburg, I’m going to take back to my people. To me, it’s an act of resistance because you’re able to indigenize new space or you strengthen the space that your people are already in.”

Listen to Standing in Two Worlds: Native American College Diaries via APM Reports or the Educate podcast.

Inside Higher Ed Spotlights Augsburg’s New Admissions Approach

Inside HIgher EdRobert Gould, vice president for strategic enrollment management, recently spoke to Inside Higher Ed about Augsburg’s participation in a Minnesota direct admission pilot program. Through the program, students in 50 high schools will be automatically admitted to participating colleges and universities based on GPA. 

This move is part of a broader shift at Augsburg from a “gatekeeper” model of admissions to an enrollment experience focused on student belonging. Going forward, Gould said, admissions counselors will have more time to spend on outreach, financial aid, and supporting students rather than evaluating them. 

“Part of the mission here is supporting democracy,” he said. “This is about sharing power.”

The piece was the latest in a series on direct admissions in higher education. Read the full article in Inside Higher Ed: Direct Admissions Takes Off

Professor Tim Pippert Interviewed About Diversity Marketing in The Chronicle of Higher Education

Tim Pippert, Augsburg’s Joel Torstenson endowed professor of sociology, was recently interviewed for The Chronicle of Higher Education about how some colleges attempt to create the appearance of a more diverse student body than they actually have. The article cited a paper in which Pippert and his co-authors analyzed more than 10,000 photographs from the admissions brochures of 165 four-year colleges. The 2013 study found that Black students were overrepresented in admissions brochures by nearly twice their actual numbers on campuses.

One implication of the findings, Pippert said, is that over-representing minorities in marketing materials could hurt students who choose to attend colleges expecting more diversity than actually exists.

Read the full article in the Race on Campus newsletter.

Spotlight on Green Chemistry at Augsburg

An organic chemist with a focus on systems-level thinking, Associate Professor Michael Wentzel is out to make science more sustainable.

“Chemistry doesn’t have to be the solution to the problems it created—it could just not create them,” he says in the June 2022 cover story in Private University Products and News Magazine.

Read the full profile to learn more about Wentzel’s path from his family’s Iowa hardware store to chairing Augsburg’s chemistry department, how green chemistry is “benign by design,” and why he’s on a mission to improve science communication.

Augsburg Professor Eric Buffalohead Discusses Native Americans in Film With ICT

In a recent newscast, ICT (formerly Indian Country Today) interviewed Augsburg University Associate Professor Eric Buffalohead about persistent stereotypes of Native Americans in film. Buffalohead chairs the Department of American Indian, First Nations, and Indigenous Studies and is the co-editor, with Professor Elise Marubbio, of the book “Native Americans on Film: Conversations, Teaching, and Theory.”

“I’ve been teaching “American Indian in the Cinema” for going on 30 years, and people have asked me, what’s the solution to some of these problems?” said Buffalohead. “And it’s contemporary representations. The big theme that you walk away from my course with is that most of our images are stuck in time, meaning that they’re somewhere in the past. People don’t see us as contemporary—they see us as these images in the old West and very much stereotypes of plains or southwest Indians. They don’t see the real diversity of Indigenous people in the Americas.”

The conversation with anchor Aliyah Chavez also touched on expanding representations in television through shows like “Rutherford Falls” and “Reservation Dogs,” translation of major films into the Navajo and Comanche languages, and Professor Marubbio’s work on representations of Native women in film. Find the full interview in the ICT newscast archive (segment begins at 6:15).

“People Do Their Own Healing”: Minnesota Women’s Press Features Prof. Melissa Hensley

The Minnesota Women’s Press recently featured an editorial by Melissa Hensley, associate professor of social work, on the value of peer support to reduce stigma in social service settings. The essay was part of a larger issue dedicated to stigma and addiction.

Hensley, who also serves as field director for Augsburg’s bachelor of social work program, spent many years as a provider of services to adults with serious and persistent mental illness in a residential setting.

“Peer supporters, who use their own experiences with addiction or mental health to help guide others, are an example of person-centered care … [They] fill gaps in traditional mental health services by providing essential knowledge about the recovery process, such as how to cope with symptoms, develop healthy relationships, and balance employment,” she writes.

“Social workers like myself need to understand that our role is not to “fix what is wrong.” People do their own healing, and our job is to offer tools and resources.”

Read the full piece in the Minnesota Women’s Press.

NPR Features Alumna’s Work to Cool Urban Heat Island

María Belén Power ’07 was recently featured in a WBUR story that also aired on All Things Considered from National Public Radio. Belén Power is associate executive director at GreenRoots in Chelsea, Massachusetts. The environmental justice organization is collaborating with the city and Boston University to pilot a host of cooling strategies on a densely populated Chelsea block, from planting trees to replacing asphalt with lighter-colored material.

In addition to improving local residents’ well-being, the Cool Block project serves as a template for other cities as climate change brings longer, hotter summers, increasing health risks in urban heat islands.

“Some days we feel like—what?—are we really having an impact? Like, is this really going to prevent the climate crisis?” Belén Power told WBUR’s Martha Bebinger. “And then I think, ‘It’s no longer about preventing it. It’s about protecting the most vulnerable communities.’”

Learn more about the Cool Block project from WBUR or listen to the full story from NPR.

Augsburg Sociology Students Visit Holocaust Museum

Fourteen Augsburg sociology students recently joined the Jewish Community Relations Council’s annual trip to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Tim Pippert, the Joel Torstenson endowed professor of sociology, led the Augsburg group, who were also joined by a group from Minnesota Hillel.

“For us, it provided the opportunity to show how sociology is applicable in lots of different ways,” Pippert said in an interview with TC Jewfolk about the group’s experience. “So I asked [the students] to think about this trip and the experience in the museum, as how does their sociological training inform what they witnessed? How did the theories that they’ve read about, how does that play out in the symbolic representation of a horrific tragedy? How do you choose to tell that story? And what are the symbols that are used to tell that story?”

Steve Humerickhouse Featured in Forbes

Steve HumerickhouseSteve Humerickhouse, executive director of The Forum on Workplace Inclusion, was one of two experts featured in the article “White Men Are Feeling Left Out of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Why Should We Care and What Should We Do?” In it, Humerickhouse spoke about his experience as a white man who is involved in DEI work. “We are really all in this, but the white folks don’t always know that they are,” he said. “That was the learning experience for me…that I am a part of this.”

Based at Augsburg University, The Forum on Workplace Inclusion will hold its 34th annual conference, “Solving for X: Tackling Inequities in a World of Unknowns,” as a virtual event April 5–7.