As I write, I am on my way back to Minneapolis after spending meaningful time at our Center for Global Education campus in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and my mind and heart are full with what I learned and experienced alongside our students.
For more than 30 years, students who travel to our campus in Mexico have been offered remarkable experiences engaging local residents in their various realities. In my short stay, I saw this work on the ground as I was able to visit local host families who share their homes with our students for several weeks; an indigenous village, where our students face the realities of poverty and personal struggle; and a clothing assembly plant, made possible by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), creating opportunities for economic progress and at the same time challenging our sense of economic well-being for workers.
This is education “off the main road,” which I first described in 2011 (see augsburg.edu/now/archives/summer-2011), an education that promotes what Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Donald Schön called “reflective practice,” the dynamic relationship between learning and experience that is at the heart of Augsburg’s academic mission.
This vision of education challenges us to see that our various experiences are inextricably linked with our reflection and learning. When we see poverty, what questions do we ask, what do we feel, what will we do? When we experience injustice, what are the causes and what options are available for our response? When we are jarred out of our normal perspectives, what will we see and do? This integrated link between experience and learning defines reflective practice.
This issue of Augsburg Now illustrates in myriad ways how this commitment to reflective practice is at the heart of an Augsburg education.
The interviews with alumni in “Finding meaning in work” advise students to be able to reflect upon and explain their choices (in college activities, academic major, and career moves) as they equip themselves for the workplace.
The story on Augsburg’s women’s soccer team tells how the student-athletes chose to go to Nicaragua to combine community engagement and learning with their soccer games. They partnered with the Center for Global Education (perhaps the first Auggie team to do so), and had the full “off the main road” educational experience.
And on and on. In the stories that follow, we celebrate our relationships with the Mdewakanton Sioux community, with some of the leading business people in the Twin Cities, with our Somali neighbors in Cedar-Riverside, and even with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who came to campus as part of the 26th annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum. These stories powerfully illustrate Augsburg’s diversity, hospitality, and embrace of “the other”—all of which point to a college community dedicated to equipping our students for lives of meaning and purpose in the world.
Reflection and practice—small to our students and big for the world. Our vision for Augsburg in the 21st century. We welcome your support and engagement in the important work before us.
PAUL C. PRIBBENOW, PRESIDENT