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Multiply your mind by giving it away

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Paul C. PribbenowAs this issue of Augsburg Now illustrates, the Augsburg community is engaged in many efforts and initiatives that are best characterized as innovative—or “out-of-the-box,” as they’re called here. In fact, I believe deeply that there is something about Augsburg and its mission that lends itself to this sort of entrepreneurial spirit, this willingness to try new ways of doing things in service to our students and neighbors. Just think of the last 30 years of new programs at Augsburg—the Weekend College; the expansion to seven graduate programs; the Augsburg campus at Bethel Lutheran Church in Rochester and at St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Bloomington; the Augsburg Core Curriculum––(AugCore), with its expansive framework for educating students in the liberal arts and in the world; the CLASS office, providing support for students with learning differences; the StepUP program, meeting the needs of students recovering from addictions; and the list goes on and on. All examples of how Augsburg is on the leading edge of providing an excellent education in new and innovative ways.

I’ve recently been reading literature on helping organizations to embrace and sustain a culture of innovation—that is, to create organizational cultures that are constantly looking for new and different ways to do things, to make products, to deliver services; to save souls, educate students, heal the sick. Recently, I happened upon the writing of Mark Federman, a Canadian scholar whose writings on innovation include this provocative suggestion: “Multiply your mind by giving it away.” And Federman means exactly what he says—be generous, be charitable, give instead of always taking. Because when you are generous with your mind, with your knowledge and education, you help to create organizations and neighborhoods and agencies and churches and schools that are marked not by the scarcity of the world but by the abundance of what’s possible when generosity of mind and heart and spirit is our guiding principle.

How will you give away your mind in the communities and organizations you serve? I constantly find examples of such generosity of mind right here in the Augsburg community, and you’ll see them in the stories featured here. For example, I’m struck by the ways in which staff member Brian Noy and his many colleagues who run our Campus Kitchen program are illustrating this generosity of mind and spirit. In addition to the ongoing preparation and delivery of 2,000 meals a month they serve to our neighbors in Phillips and Cedar-Riverside, they have focused our attention on the important role that food plays in our lives—as sustenance for our bodies, as fellowship for our community, as politics and economics in our neighborhood and world. They have multiplied their minds by giving them away to all of us. And the results are staggering—a community garden on the edge of campus that brings together neighbors and students and children, a farmers market that brings organic farmers from across the region to campus, composting of leftover everything in the cafeteria, and so much more—abundance through generosity.

The gift of an education, an Augsburg education, calls all of us to this generous undertaking of

multiplying your mind and knowledge and experience by giving it away so that it serves God’s abundant intentions for God’s people and world. That is the sort of innovation that is at the heart of Augsburg’s mission and vision. I’m proud to share in this significant work.


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