Bing tracking

43rd Annual Advent Vespers Returns In Person

Augsburg's Advent Vespers takes place in the sanctuary of Central Lutheran Church, with choir, orchestra, and packed pews.For more than four decades, Augsburg University has ushered in the Advent and Christmas seasons with Advent Vespers, a magnificent experience of music and liturgy, focusing on the theme of preparation and culminating in the joyful celebration of the Incarnation.

The 43rd Advent Vespers will be held in person at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis, with one livestream option available. 

  • Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 8 p.m. (open dress rehearsal)
  • Friday, December 2, 2022 at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 3, 2022 at 2 p.m. (with livestream) and 5 p.m.

The event is free, with a suggested donation of $30 per person. Seating envelopes are required for entry and are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. They can be requested online, by mail, or in person at the Augsburg Music Office. Seats are going fast—reserve your spot today.

Shuttle service will be available from Augsburg’s Anderson Music Hall to Central Lutheran and back, with limited parking available in lot A on Augsburg’s campus. More information about directions, parking, and shuttle service is available online.

Environmental Advocates “Flip the Switch” on Solar Demonstration Project

Four students pose in front of the solar shed in lot B behind Mortensen Hall. One is pointing to the solar panels on top of the shed.The small crowd gathered by the freeway wall burst into applause as Professor Joe Underhill fired up a handheld sander. Despite the cloudy day, it was powered by the sun. 

The shed at the west end of Lot B attracted plenty of curiosity during its construction in the summer of 2022. On October 6, it was officially unveiled as a solar-powered demonstration project Underhill calls a “Unit of Resistance.” 

Temporarily located at the end of 21st Ave, the shed currently houses tools and supplies for the River Semester, the Center for Global Education and Experience program Underhill also leads. Both projects, he says, are part of an attempt to rethink higher education as something more hands-on and to empower students with a sense of agency.  

“In the face of huge problems like climate change and the student mental health crisis, what small steps can we take to focus on what we can do, instead of what we can’t?” he asks. 

The idea for a solar-powered work shed on campus arose last spring in Underhill’s The City and Environment keystone course. Inspired by the Augsburg Day Student Government’s 2021 resolution calling on Augsburg to explore on-campus solar and reach carbon neutrality by 2030, the class wrote a grant proposal to the ADSG’s Environmental Action Committee to buy solar panels. 

EAC funded the purchase of six 320-watt Renogy Solar panels, a 24-volt battery bank, and a power inverter. Underhill used other grant funds to purchase wood for the 8×8-foot structure, which features a roof slanted at 45 degrees—the average angle of the sun at Augsburg’s latitude. He and students built it over the spring and summer, and electrical work was completed this fall by Aaron Jarson, the Augsburg electrician.

Senior Zoe Barany says that, like the campus solar and carbon neutrality resolution, the shed is a tangible expression of students’ interest in advancing Augsburg’s climate commitments. 

“The funds for the project came from the campus Green Fee,” says junior Maya Merritt, who leads sustainability initiatives as the student government EAC officer. “With the Green Fee, we’re effectively taxing ourselves to support sustainability. If you’re paying the Green Fee, you get a say in where it’s going.”

Augsburg Music Professor Wins Entrepreneurship Prize

A white man in a sweater, jeans, and knit hat sits with his arms crossed among keyboards and music recording equipment.Intrigued by the potential of online education, J. Anthony Allen started a small company in 2018 to provide music instruction via the web. It grew organically at first, with a handful of classes and a few licensing agreements with larger platforms.

Then came the pandemic. 

“It was really a question of the right place and the right time,” said Allen, an assistant professor of music, media, and management at Augsburg. Punkademic was already established when the world saw a huge increase in demand for online classes of all kinds in 2020. Today, it serves more than a million students from every corner of the globe. 

Allen entered Punkademic in the prestigious MN Cup entrepreneurship contest earlier this year. The competition, which is based at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Business, provides seed funding and support to emerging entrepreneurs from across the state. His goal was to make it past the first round in order to connect with a mentor from the ed tech world. 

Punkademic did make the first cut. And the next one. In September, it was named a semifinalist for the grand prize and took first place in the Education and Training division. 

Allen plans to invest the $25,000 MN Cup award in marketing and general operating infrastructure for the company, which remains a slim operation despite its explosive growth. Punkademic’s flexible model offers individual class purchases as well as structured courses on a subscription basis. The site’s most popular offerings include courses on music theory, composition, film scoring, sound design, and ear training.    

Allen sees a clear connection between his “side hustle” and his work at Augsburg, where he teaches classes in music business and technology, runs the music production minor, manages Augsburg’s recording studio, and serves as interim music department chair. 

“Teaching is a practice. All of this work online has informed my teaching style and abilities,” he said. “Here in the music business program we also talk about how all of music is an entrepreneurial act in one way or another. 

“For me, Punkademic is proof of that concept.” 

To learn more, visit Punkademic’s website or follow the company on TikTok.

(Photo of J. Anthony Allen by Jade Patrick)

Augsburg Faculty Publish New Books for Kids, Parents

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 holding a copy of his new bookMatt 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. 

Cover of Spanked: How Hitting Our Children Is Harming OurselvesChristina 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.

“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)

Reinaldo Moya Receives McKnight Composer Fellowship

Reinaldo Moya leans against a wall wearing a dark coat and blue collared shirt. Snow and trees are in the background.Reinaldo Moya, associate professor of composition, has been named one of four 2022 McKnight Composer Fellows. Funded by the McKnight Foundation, the fellowship provides $25,000 in unrestricted support for outstanding mid-career artists living in Minnesota. He plans to use the award to record an album of his compositions, and to pursue additional training and equipment to widen his musical horizons. 

A graduate of Venezuela’s El Sistema music education system, Professor Moya is the recipient of the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Van Lier Fellowship, and the Aaron Copland Award, as well as a previous McKnight Composer Fellowship. He was the winner of the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation Composer Award, leading to the commissioning of his Piano Concerto for Joyce Yang and the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. Professor Moya’s works have been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera, the San Diego Symphony, the Juilliard Orchestra, the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, and the New Jersey Symphony. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School with masters and doctoral degrees. 

Learn more about his works at reinaldomoya.com. Congratulations, Professor Moya!

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.

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.

Najeeba Syeed Appointed Augsburg University’s Inaugural El-Hibri Endowed Chair and Interfaith Director

Headshot of Najeeba Syeed. Najeeba is wearing a yellow headscarf and blue spiral earrings.Augsburg University is pleased to announce that Najeeba Syeed has been appointed as the inaugural El-Hibri endowed chair and executive director of Interfaith at Augsburg, effective on August 1, 2022. In this role, she will serve as a national ambassador for the interfaith movement and will partner with campus leaders as a change agent for interreligious learning and living. She also will serve as the faculty advisor for Augsburg’s Interfaith Scholars.

“Professor Syeed is an experienced mediator, a publicly-engaged scholar, a passionate educator, and a seasoned organizational leader,” said Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow. “This appointment represents a crucial and exciting step forward in our commitment to enhancing interfaith leadership on campus and nationally.”

For more than two decades, Syeed has been a professor and expert practitioner in the fields of conflict resolution, mediation, and interfaith studies. An award-winning educator, she has taught extensively on interreligious education and published articles on faith and community-based conflict resolution, restorative justice, and interfaith just peacemaking. She previously served for 10 years as an associate professor at the Claremont School of Theology. She also held faculty positions at Starr King School for the Ministry and Chicago Theological Seminary, where she was most recently associate professor of Muslim and interreligious studies. She has served as the co-chair of the American Academy of Religion’s Religion and Politics Section and was a member of the Academy’s Religion, Social Conflict, and Peace Section.

Syeed also brings significant executive experience in organizations focused on conflict resolution in community, higher education, and government settings, including the Western Justice Center Foundation and the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center. In 2021, she served as chief of staff to Nithya Raman, the first Asian American woman elected to the Los Angeles city council. She holds a law degree from the Indiana University School of Law and a bachelor of science degree from Guilford College.

“I am honored to serve as the inaugural El-Hibri Chair and Executive Director of Interfaith at Augsburg. This is a unique opportunity to extend and amplify Augsburg’s remarkable interfaith work and to honor the generous and visionary commitment of the El-Hibri family, “ said Syeed.

“My life’s work combines a commitment to scholarship, teaching, and community organizing,” she added.  “Listen, learn, partner, and co-create is the process I utilize to lead and build with fellow faculty, administrators, students, community leaders, and stakeholders from around the globe.”

Interfaith engagement is a core aspect of Augsburg’s academic mission and reflects the religious and secular diversity of the campus and surrounding community. Interfaith at Augsburg: An Institute to Promote Interfaith Learning and Leadership was established in 2019 to further the belief that religious diversity can be a constructive force serving the common good. In 2021, a significant gift from Fuad and Nancy El-Hibri allowed for the creation of the El-Hibri endowed chair and executive directorship for the institute.

Syeed’s appointment helps to fulfill one of the goals of Augsburg150, the university’s sesquicentennial strategic plan, to advance the public purposes of an Augsburg education by enhancing interfaith leadership on campus and throughout the nation. Building on the strong foundation established by Bishop Mark S. Hanson, founding director, she will lead a strategic planning process that strengthens, integrates, and extends the Interfaith Institute’s work on campus and beyond.

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.