Get to know the Sabo Center!
In each Staff Feature installment, we ask members of the Sabo Center staff to share about what they do, along with some fun facts.
This post features Harry Boyte, Senior Scholar of Public Work Philosophy.
(Pictured above, left: Harry Boyte. Pictured above, right: So Fujieda and Mitsura Fukuhera, staff at Rikkyou University in Japan, showing how they are changing service learning courses into public work and Public Achievement-style courses in the service learning center).
What do you do with the Sabo Center?
I have seen my work for many years as about theorizing about people-centered democracy, a concept that I learned and experienced in the civil rights (freedom) movement. I develop concepts and practices that can translate democratic revitalization for today.
What’s one social issue that is most important to you right now?
Citizenship education, with a political approach.
What’s your favorite place on Augsburg’s campus?
The park (Murphy Square)
If you could recommend one book movie, or podcast, what would it be and why?
I’d recommend two books that give a flavor or the people-centered politics that we’ve largely lost today, and needed among young activists: Freedom’s Teacher: the Life of Septima Clark by Katherine Cherron (the best account of Clark, architect of the citizenship schools, whom King called “the mother of the movement”); and Reveille for Radicals by Saul Alinsky, straight out of the culture, spirit, and politics of the popular movemen tof the late 1930s–and a radical contrast, in crucial ways, with his much more pessimistic and cynical Rules for Radicals, the book most people have read.
What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Public intellectual, populist
What’s your favorite place in the world?
Right at the moment, Japan.
What’s the coolest thing you are working on right now?
Creating platforms for an international movement on “Civic Studies,” or the theory and practice of people-centered democracy.
Name one spot in the Twin Cities that you would consider a “must-see”?
Speedy Market on Como.
Who would you most likely swap places with for a day?
Chief policy adviser for Pete Buttiegieg (his campaign could soar if he deepened his democracy theme to include Obama’s often repeated insight that real change in America comes to Washington not from Washington). “We the people” is the foundation of democracy and politics; this is what I’m currently talking about with students in Japan, giving a couple of lectures. You can view the PowerPoint for one of my lectures via this link.
Have any last facts/favorite quotes/advice/etc. that you would like to share?
Japan, like the U.S., has some amazing philosophy and traditions of public work-related politics and creation. See, for instance, the Japanese Folk Craft Museum.