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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.

“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.

Melissa Hensley notes in Star Tribune how Habitat for Humanity homes shape lives

Minneapolis Star TribuneMelissa Hensley, assistant professor of social work at Augsburg College, was quoted in a Star Tribune article about the substantial benefits that Habitat for Humanity homes provide to families who move into them. The article reports on the exceptionally positive findings in a newly released study by Wilder Research of more than 400 families. The improvements in the families’ lives include higher income, less reliance on government social programs, an increased sense of security, and better childhood performance in school.

In the article, Hensley states that the Habitat model, in which participants help construct their new homes, provides a sense of pride and cooperation that has ripple effects throughout the families’ lives. “Most individuals want to be engaged in a constructive activity,” she said. “This is something people feel they’re a part of and can be proud of.” She goes on to note that by “Enabling them to move into a place where they have stability and safety, they can blossom.”

Read: Habitat for Humanity dramatically improves families’ lives, study finds on the Star Tribune site.

Caitlin Lietzau ’14 MSW joins WeCAN

Augsburg College alumna Caitlin (McDonald) Lietzau ’14 MSW was featured in the Lakeshore Weekly News as she joined the staff of Western Communities Action Network (WeCAN) in the role of food program coordinator. Lietzau is a licensed graduate social worker who received a master’s in social work with an emphasis on program development, policy, and administration. Learn more about her role in the story, “WeCAN has new addition.”

Christine Dawson ’13 MSW shines as coordinator for HeroCare

Christine Dawson ’13 MSW was featured on the cover of the Regions Hospital Foundation Newsletter for her outstanding work with the HeroCare Program for veterans at Regions Hospital. Dawson, who is herself a veteran, coordinates services and advocates for patients in Regions Hospital’s mental health programs. Read about Dawson’s role on the Regions Hospital website.

Learn more about Dawson’s experiences as an Augsburg student by reading “Launching a new mission,” an article from the fall 2013 Augsburg Now alumni magazine.

Mpls. St. Paul Magazine talks with Lani Hollenbeck

MSPStPaulAugsburg alumna Lani Hollenbeck ’79 ’11 MAN, a graduate of the College’s undergraduate social work and graduate nursing programs, spoke with Mpls. St. Paul Magazine about her role caring for infants at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. In the story, Hollenbeck describes the model she developed to promote positive relationships between caregivers and families in hospitals and her off-duty work through missions to Mexico and Guatemala. She is pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at Augsburg with an emphasis in Transcultural Nursing Leadership. The profile of Hollenbeck was part of a longer story that named some of Minnesota’s outstanding nurses. Read “Children’s Health: Lani Hollenbeck.

Torstenson Lecture in Sociology features Garry Hesser

Garry Hesser
Augsburg professor Garry Hesser

Each year, Augsburg College honors the legacy of an individual who helped shape the College’s mission by hosting the Torstenson Lecture in Sociology, and—for the first time—the 2013 presentation will highlight the important work of a current Augsburg faculty member.

The Torstenson Lecture is an opportunity for a sociologist from the Twin Cities area to share with the Augsburg community the contemporary scholarship, research, and thinking on a sociological topic.

This year’s speaker, Garry Hesser, is the first Augsburg professor selected to be the Torstenson lecturer, and Hesser will present “Place Matters…So?” at 5 p.m., April 2 in Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center. Continue reading “Torstenson Lecture in Sociology features Garry Hesser”

Augsburg College hosts parliamentarian Marianne Aasen

AasenAugsburg College on October 16 and 17 will host Norwegian parliamentarian Marianne Aasen as she makes her first trip to Minnesota aimed at identifying opportunities for research, business, and educational exchange between Norway and the Upper Midwest.

Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow invited Aasen to visit the College to further her understanding of U.S. higher education and to explore topics central to her vocation. During the trip, Aasen—who chairs a parliamentary committee on research and education—will meet U.S. scholars who collaborate with Norwegian researchers and will discuss educational issues with faculty members in the College’s Education and Social Work departments. Continue reading “Augsburg College hosts parliamentarian Marianne Aasen”

New social work conference allows for international exchange

swkconferenceNearly 100 social workers, professors, and students from Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, and across the U.S. are on campus June 14 and 15 for the first international social work conference sponsored by Augsburg. The program, titled “Global Context: Local Solutions” allows participants to gain a greater awareness of how social work is practiced in other countries.

Lois Bosch, associate professor and director of Augsburg’s master of social work program, said the idea for the conference evolved out of the work of the social work international curriculum committee. Continue reading “New social work conference allows for international exchange”

Meet Brant Thomsen '00 MSW/MA

meet_brantBrant Thomsen is a social worker for the St. Paul Public Schools and a recipient of a dual degree in social work and theology from Augsburg College and Luther Seminary. He shared his thoughts about working in ministry and social work.

“This is the tenth year of my beginning work at the seminary, and I have been thinking for several months on a much deeper and more personal level about what it means to be a social worker and in ministry, regardless of setting. This program is extremely important — I can readily testify to that. Continue reading “Meet Brant Thomsen '00 MSW/MA”