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New York Times Quotes Professor Michael Lansing on Historic All-Female St. Paul City Council

New York Times wordmarkMichael Lansing, professor and chair of history at Augsburg University, was quoted in a January 10 New York Times article about the swearing-in of St. Paul’s first all-female city council. For the first time, all seven city council members are women; they are also younger and more racially diverse than any council in St. Paul’s history. 

Lansing, an active public historian, spoke to the Times about demographic shifts in recent decades that helped lay the groundwork for this historic election. The election of seven women to city council is “a turning point for St. Paul,” he told the Times.

“They’re all under 40, they come from these different backgrounds, they’re probably going to be in politics for a while,” he said. “What do they do? What can they change? How do they see things differently?”

Read the article via the New York Times: “All-Female City Council Marks a ‘Turning Point’ for a Twin City”

‘Humble Listening’: Najeeba Syeed Featured on Interfaith America Podcast

Najeeba Syeed is wearing a pink heaadscarf, round gold earrings, and a purple shirt while posing against a blue and purple background.Najeeba Syeed, El-Hibri Endowed Chair and executive director of the Interfaith Institute at Augsburg University, was a recent guest on the Interfaith America Podcast with I’m Eboo Patel. The conversation explored the ethics and future of interfaith work amid deep divides across religious communities, the impact of global wars and crises on religious communities, and the role of institutions in promoting interfaith understanding through open-mindedness and deep listening. 

Towards the end of the podcast, Professor Syeed reflected on fostering constructive interfaith conversations in the classroom and on campus:

“To me, the confidence that I have in being Muslim and the teachings and the capacity is not impinged upon by being present for people of other faiths,” she said. “I can walk into a space and I have a deep belief that I’m there because of the calling of being a Muslim. It isn’t a threat to me to show up and exhibit rahma or which is compassion. It comes from the root word Rahmah, the same in Hebrew around the idea of the womb to express compassion for others because it isn’t a threat to my own interpretation of who I am. … It’s a position of strength and not a position of deficiency.”

“That to me is a spiritual lesson that interfaith can bring to so many of the dialogues that we’re trying to have on our campus, is that maybe the position of strength is actually doing this humble listening.”

“The position of strength doesn’t mean that we move to a diluted, common understanding of the world where we all accept one interpretation, a universal theology, or one diluted version. Maybe the strength is that we listen to each other.” 

Listen to the podcast via Interfaith America: “How Can We Engage in “Sacred Witness” Amid Deep Conflict?”

MPR Interviews Religion Instructor Chris Stedman ’08 About Award-Winning Podcast and Britney Spears

MPR News logoChris Stedman ’08 joined MPR’s Cathy Wurzer on Minnesota Now on October 25 to discuss his podcast, “Unread,” and its connection to Britney Spears, who recently released a new memoir. “Unread,” which was named one of the best podcasts of 2021 by Vulture and the Guardian, among others, is a four-part series that explores friendship and grief following the death of a close friend of Stedman’s. 

“As I was processing his death and trying to make sense of what happened, I found myself thinking so much about why he loved Britney and the resonances that he felt with her and her story, which ultimately is what led me to make Unread,” says Stedman in the interview with MPR. “And really, that’s one of the sort of things that I explore in that podcast in addition to this Britney-related mystery that he left for me when he died, which was kind of what started my exploration is just, why is it that so many people who seem to struggle in life in some way, as he did, see themselves reflected in the experiences of Britney?”

Stedman teaches in Augsburg’s Department of Religion and Philosophy. In addition to “Unread,” he is the author of “IRL: Finding Realness, Meaning, and Belonging in Our Digital Lives” and “Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious.” For the 2023–24 academic year, he is also serving as the Augsburg Interfaith Institute’s inaugural research fellow. 

Listen to the full interview via MPR: “Local podcaster shares Britney Spears’ impact amid release of new memoir”

Augsburg Health Commons Bring Drop-In Care to New Locations

PA faculty member Vanessa Bester is seated on a stool providing foot care at a Health Commons location.The Augsburg Health Commons is expanding to bring its proven model of accompaniment-based care to more neighbors through new partnerships and locations.

Late last year, an agreement with M Health Fairview and Redeemer Center for Life formalized a partnership at the Living Room in the Harrison neighborhood of north Minneapolis, where a drop-in site based on the Health Commons model had operated since 2012. Following a disruption of in-person services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the site was re-opened in October 2022 under the leadership of Augsburg Physician Assistant Program Director Vanessa Bester.  

This summer, the first Health Commons in St. Paul opened in the Conway Community Center through a partnership with M Health Fairview, the Sanneh Foundation, and the East Side Health & Well-Being Collaborative. Health Commons Executive Director Katie Clark and Augsburg Board of Regents Chair Dennis Meyer will join St. Paul community leaders on August 16 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Health Commons East

These new locations join long-standing Health Commons sites at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis and in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood

“Our nursing and physician assistant faculty, along with our students, are committed to the vision of a drop-in center that focuses on the needs of the communities we serve to address health inequities and other deep-rooted issues faced when seeking care,” said Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow. “Augsburg is especially pleased to extend our efforts to the East Side St. Paul neighborhood.”

Augsburg’s Health Commons sites are health-focused drop-in centers led and organized by nursing and physician assistant faculty members, Augsburg students, volunteers, and community members. Developed by Augsburg nursing faculty in the early 1990s, the Health Commons model is founded on principles of hospitality and relationship development that leads to transcultural understanding and health benefits for all participants. 

The people who come to the Health Commons are from diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and many are unhoused or marginally housed. Health concerns might include nutrition, medication, stress management, respiratory conditions, injuries, skin problems, and chronic disease such as diabetes and hypertension. Everyone is welcome, and all services are provided free of charge, without proof of need or time constraints. 

Augsburg’s PA program has taken on a growing role as new partnerships and locations have developed. The PA program has led the expansion of services at the Cedar-Riverside Health Commons, connecting with community members providing foot care, a need across many marginalized communities. 

“The PA program is humbled and honored to bring the model of accompaniment-based care into our curriculum and medical practice. Faculty, staff and students are able to build connections, meet people where they are at in their health journey, and learn how health inequities are impacting the people we care for every day. The Harrison neighborhood, Cedar-Riverside, Central Lutheran, and now East St. Paul are the paradigm of what providing health and care should look like in every community,” said Bester. 

To learn more, volunteer, or support the Health Commons, visit augsburg.edu/healthcommons.

Najeeba Syeed Named to Interfaith Leaders in Higher Education Council

Najeeba Speed speaking at Interfaith eventInterfaith America has appointed Najeeba Syeed, El-Hibri chair and executive director of Interfaith at Augsburg, to the inaugural Interfaith Leaders in Higher Education Council. This council serves as a point of connection for educators dedicated to interfaith work both in their respective institutions and throughout the higher education field. The council will meet quarterly with the Interfaith Leadership Institute team to offer their expertise on undergraduate programming and expand their own interfaith leadership skills. “I’m profoundly thankful to Interfaith America,” Syeed says. “What an incredible group of leaders to serve and serve with, and a wonderful organization to be a part of.” 

Read more from Interfaith America: Meet the Inaugural Interfaith Leaders in Higher Education Council

Assistant Professor Shayna Sheinfeld Wins Outstanding Book Award

Image of book cover that shows a painting of a woman with dark eyes and heavy eyebrows. White text on a red background reads, "Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean," Sara Parks, Shayna Sheinfeld, and Meredith J.C. Warren Shayna Sheinfeld, assistant professor of religion and philosophy, received the 2023 Frank W. Beare Award from the Canadian Society for Biblical Studies for her book, “Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean.” 

Co-authored with Sara Parks and Meredith J. C. Warren, “Jewish and Christian Women in the Ancient Mediterranean” is the first undergraduate textbook dedicated to introducing women’s religious roles in Judaism and Christianity in a way that is accessible to students from all disciplines. In addition to contextualizing overviews, it includes explorations of specific topics in women’s religion, including leadership, domestic ritual, women as readers and writers of scripture, and women as innovators in their traditions. 

The Frank W. Beare award recognizes an outstanding book in the areas of Christian origins, post-biblical Judaism, and/or Graeco-Roman religions.

Senior Fellowships Anchor Collaboration Between Augsburg’s Interfaith Institute and the Oxford Interfaith Forum

El-Hibri Chair and Executive Director of Interfaith Institute Najeeba Syeed

Najeeba Syeed, El-Hibri chair and executive director of Interfaith at Augsburg, has been named a senior fellow of the Oxford Interfaith Forum. Reciprocally, Director of the Oxford Interfaith Forum Thea Gomelauri will join Augsburg’s Interfaith Institute as a senior fellow this fall. This mutual fellowship is a distinct characteristic of the institutions’ partnership, which will focus on issues of peace, justice, intercultural and interfaith education, and furthering interreligious learning across the globe.

Gomelauri is a faculty member of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford and has extensive experience in research, teaching, and consultancy in different international, and intercultural contexts. She is a member of the Jewish-Muslim Research Network, the Bible and Religions of the Ancient Near East Collective, and the British and Irish Association of Jewish Studies.

Director of the Oxford Interfaith Forum Thea Gomelauri

As Augsburg’s El-Hibri chair and executive director of Interfaith Institute, Syeed serves as a national ambassador for the interfaith movement and faculty advisor for Augsburg’s Interfaith Scholars. She is a professor, expert practitioner, and public speaker in the fields of interfaith studies, mediation, conflict resolution, deliberative democracy, and social, gender, and racial equity.

“This fellowship serves as an anchor for our collaborative work of Interfaith Institute at Augsburg University and the Oxford Interfaith Forum,” Syeed says. “We look forward to collaborating in the United States, United Kingdom, and across the globe.”

Augsburg University Names Rachel Bergman the Inaugural Sateren Professor of Music

Rachel Bergman has curly, shoulder-length brown hair. She is wearing wire-frame glasses and a burgundy short-sleeved shirt.Following a national search, Rachel Bergman has been named the inaugural Leland B. Sateren ’35 Professor and Endowed Chair of Music at Augsburg University.

The Augsburg Music Department focuses on music-making as an act of healing, an act of global citizenship, and an act of anti-racism. The Sateren chair works to advance the department’s commitments to inclusion, access, equity, and belonging. In this role, Bergman will serve as a local and national spokesperson for the department’s distinctive programs and learning opportunities.

“The Sateren chair honors Augsburg’s long tradition of musical excellence,” said President Paul C. Pribbenow. “Dr. Bergman’s appointment builds on this legacy as we celebrate the rich diversity of our students’ musical gifts, experiences, interests, and expressions. We are delighted to welcome her to Augsburg and the Schwartz School of the Arts.”

Regent John Schwartz ’67, who established the endowed chair in memory of renowned Augsburg choral conductor and composer Leland Sateren ’35, noted that Bergman joins Augsburg at an exciting time. “The university is poised to move into a new era of interdisciplinary curriculum in the arts with energetic and creative faculty like Dr. Bergman leading the way.”

An active flutist and advocate of new music, Bergman currently serves as director of academic initiatives and arts outreach at Sheridan College in northern Wyoming. Her previous roles at Sheridan College include dean of visual and performing arts and dean of online learning. She has also served as associate professor of music theory and director of graduate studies for the School of Music at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and as a flute instructor at the Skidmore Summer Flute Institute in Saratoga Springs, New York.

“I am thrilled to be joining Augsburg University this fall,” said Bergman. “I’m particularly excited about serving in a liberal arts institution with a focus on students and community. I truly believe that music should be accessible to all, and I look forward to working with the Music Department to strengthen the role of music throughout the university and with our neighbors.”

In addition to teaching, Bergman researches, promotes, and performs contemporary works for flute in solo and chamber settings. Her academic research focuses on the works of Viktor Ullmann, a Jewish, Austro-Hungarian composer who was killed in the Holocaust. A past president of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic and a member of Assisi Performing Arts (Italy), Bergman has presented papers and lecture-recitals both nationally and internationally. She holds a doctorate in music theory from Yale University and a bachelor of arts in music and mathematics from Skidmore college.

“Dr. Bergman’s lifelong commitment to meeting students where they are, along with her track record as a dynamic leader, effective administrator, and tenured professor at a large research university, make her a stellar addition to our faculty,” said Paula O’Loughlin, provost and senior vice president for academic and student affairs.

“Rachel Bergman’s vision for music at Augsburg aligns with the trajectory of our talented music faculty,” said Ryan Haaland, dean of arts and sciences. “She brings a wealth of experience as an educator and leader that will serve our students and campus well.”

Augsburg offers a variety of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music, with specializations in music business, music education, and music therapy, plus choral and instrumental ensembles that are open to all students.

Learn more at Augsburg.edu/music.

Najeeba Syeed Featured on ‘State of Belief’ Podcast

State of Belief logoNajeeba Syeed, El-Hibri chair and executive director of Interfaith at Augsburg, recently joined “State of Belief,” Interfaith Alliance’s weekly radio show and podcast, to speak about her background and what the broader interfaith and American community can learn from the teachings of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“I think the most beautiful thing about [Ramadan] really is the emphasis on building our social fabric with one another, gathering and thinking about, “what is the power of self-regulation and self-control?” Self-control over food and also our capacity to not express anger,” she said.

“While it is a deeply spiritual practice for Muslim, it’s also one where we spend a lot of time in community … It is a time where we want to be open to other communities. This is often our interfaith season. It is meant for doors to be open.”

Listen to the whole conversation with Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush: “Najeeba Syeed: A Peacemaker at Ramadan”

Toronto Star Cites Professor Michael Lansing in “After George Floyd”

Professor Michael Lansing was recently quoted by the Toronto Star in a major exploration of the dynamics around policing and public safety in Minneapolis following the murder of George Floyd. Lansing and University of St. Thomas historian Yohuru Williams are the co-founders of Overpoliced & Underprotected in MSP, a public history project that explores the history of policing in the Twin Cities in order to contribute to community conversations about the future of public safety.

Lansing’s comments contextualize the failed public safety ballot measure in Minneapolis in 2022.

Neighbourhoods that voted most strongly against the measure were in the city’s southwest — a white, upper-middle-class area — followed, to a lesser extent, by those in the predominantly Black North Minneapolis,” wrote reporter Wendy Gillis. “It was a “very odd combination” that was rare in American political history, said Michael Lansing, history professor at Augsburg University in Minneapolis.

“Not just polarized, because that suggests two poles. Minneapolis in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the uprising became a place that was deeply fragmented,” he said.

 

Read the full Toronto Star article: “After George Floyd” (February 24, 2023).