St. Olaf Campus News

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A private liberal arts college of the Lutheran church in Minnesota
Updated: 1 week 4 days ago

Advocate for women survivors of war to speak at St. Olaf

Mon, 04/18/2016 - 3:57pm

Humanitarian, author, and media commentator Zainab Salbi, a survivor of war who is dedicated to helping women in war-torn communities rebuild their lives, will speak at St. Olaf College April 21.

Her lecture, titled The Other Side of War: Women, Wartime, and the Dream of Peace, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Tomson Hall 280. Sponsored by the St. Olaf Political Awareness Committee, it is free and open to the public. It will be streamed and archived online.

At the age of 23, Salbi founded Women for Women International, a grassroots humanitarian and development organization dedicated to serving women survivors of wars. Under her leadership as CEO from 1993 to 2011, the organization grew to help more than 400,000 women in eight conflict areas around the world, distributing more than $100 million in aid and loans and impacting more than 1.7 million family members.

Salbi is the author of the national bestseller Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny — Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam (with Laurie Becklund). Salbi has also authored The Other Side of War: Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope and If You Knew Me, You Would Care.

She currently serves as editor-at-large at Women in the World Media, a news platform in collaboration with the New York Times that is hosted on the paper’s website.

Salbi is known for bringing international women’s issues to mainstream attention in the U.S., making philanthropy accessible to women at the grassroots level, and pioneering microcredit programs to post-conflict areas. Her mission had always been to build programs that combine access to knowledge with access to resources.

In 2010 former President Bill Clinton nominated Salbi as one of the 21st century heroes featured by Harper’s Bazaar. She has been named among the 100 most influential women in the world by Newsweek, The Guardian, and Fast Company, and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

Salbi has been featured by media outlets around the world, including CNN, The New York Times, and Financial Times, and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show 10 times.

St. Olaf student awarded Humanity in Action Fellowship

Fri, 04/15/2016 - 11:02am

A passion for human rights, a commitment to meaningful dialogue, and an enthusiasm for connecting with others who hope to create change has earned St. Olaf College student Merve Mert ‘17 a Humanity in Action Fellowship.

Humanity in Action is an educational organization that has established an international network of leaders, young professionals, and students who are committed to promoting human rights and democratic freedom.

The organization sponsors a summer fellowship that brings together students from Europe and the United States to study histories of discrimination and resistance as well as contemporary challenges to human rights and democracy.

Mert, who first heard about Humanity in Action through information provided by the St. Olaf Piper Center for Vocation and Career, was drawn to the opportunity to explore these issues, particularly those related to minority rights, as well as to study with like-minded students.

“Having the chance to meet passionate individuals from diverse backgrounds who care about human and minority rights and who are willing to take action to help fight discrimination is one of the things that excites me most,” says Mert, who will spend the summer in Amsterdam as part of the program.

As a co-captain of the St. Olaf Debate Team, a moderator of Sustained Dialogue, and an Inclusivity Advocate, Mert is deeply involved in the St. Olaf community. These commitments speak to her dedication to meaningful dialogue and her belief that “interaction is one of the first steps to understand the ‘other’ and meaningfully live together with people who are not necessarily like us.”

In addition, Mert has accumulated influential professional and academic experiences that will serve her in the fellowship program. Two summers ago, she interned at a think tank in her home country of Turkey called the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation, where she worked with minority rights issues. And last summer, Mert was a Peace Scholar studying peace, dialogue, and conflict in Norway.

“Humanity in Action is the perfect next step for me after the Norway Peace Scholars program,” says Mert, who hopes to earn her master’s degree in a field related to international relations or human rights.

“I’m hoping that Humanity in Action will allow me to broaden my perspective, expand my knowledge on the rights issues pertaining to minorities, and connect with passionate young people who want to make a change in the world.”

St. Olaf student wins national music competition

Wed, 04/13/2016 - 1:58pm

St. Olaf College student Samuel Viguerie ’17 won first place in the string division at the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) Young Artist Competition in San Antonio, Texas.

Viguerie, who studies cello with St. Olaf Professor of Music David Carter, will receive a $3,000 award from the MTNA Foundation Fund. His accompanist for the competition was pianist Matthew Harikian ’16, who studies with St. Olaf Professor of Music Kent McWilliams.

In addition to winning the MTNA competition, Viguerie recently won first place in the college strings division of the 2016 Thursday Musical Competition.

A member of the St. Olaf Orchestra, Viguerie was featured as a soloist on the ensemble’s 2015 West Coast tour.

His performances have also been featured on Minnesota Public Radio and National Public Radio. In addition, he has performed at the Ordway Concert Hall in St. Paul as a winner of the 2015 Schubert Club’s Bruce P. Carlson Scholarship Competition.

Last summer, Viguerie attended the the Centre d’Arts Orford in Quebec and the Heifetz International Music Institute in Staunton, Virginia, where he studied with renowned musicians Richard Aaron, Laurence Lesser, and Amit Peled.

Viguerie is a music performance and computer science major at St. Olaf, and he also serves as secretary of the student Honor Council.

Students have IMPACT in Mayo Clinic research program

Tue, 04/12/2016 - 1:55pm

Five research teams from St. Olaf College were recently recognized for their work at the Innovative Minds Partnering to Advance Curative Therapies (IMPACT) Symposium at Mayo Clinic.

Five research teams from St. Olaf were selected to present their work at the Innovative Minds Partnering to Advance Curative Therapies (IMPACT) Symposium at Mayo Clinic.

IMPACT, a competition sponsored by Regenerative Medicine Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic Office of Applied Scholarship and Education Science, aims to encourage students to pursue research or careers in medicine.

Faculty-mentored student research teams from Minnesota select one of several given topics, make a research plan, and submit a paper with their findings. From this pool of papers, eight teams per topic are selected to present their research at Mayo Clinic — and this year, five of those teams hailed from St. Olaf.

Research topics this year included causes of hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), ovarian cancer, and non-genetic causes of bipolar disorder. St. Olaf research teams investigated ovarian cancer and HLHS, which is a congenital disease causing an underdeveloped left heart.

“I thought that the IMPACT program would be a great opportunity for me to get my hands on an actual problem in the science world,” says Daniel Hogan ’18, who researched HLHS with Jack Goldstein ’18 and Abhishek Chandra ’18 with the guidance of St. Olaf Visiting Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dan Everson.

Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dipa Kalyani mentored Brock Carlson ’18, Claire Smith ’18, Eleanor Arnold ’18, Matthew Ramsey ’18, and John Vajgrt ’18 in their research on HLHS. The research projects were student driven — as research teams they created their own hypotheses and research designs.

“The IMPACT program led me to interact with authentic scientific documents, create conclusions based off the accumulated literature, and share our results with the broader scientific community,” says Leah Andrews ’19, who worked with Liamitantsoa Rakotomahenina ’19, Thomas Olson ’19, Andrew Salij ’19, and Pete Smith ’19 under the guidance of Associate Professor of Biology and Department Chair Kim Kandl to investigate HLHS. They earned third place at the IMPACT Symposium.

Kandl also mentored Charlotte Elwell ’17, Zachariah Tritz ’17, Caitlin Van Lith ’17, and Zachary WareJoncas ’17 in their research on ovarian cancer, which tied for second place.

Andrea Studer ’17 teamed with Emily Facile ’17, Megan Braun ’17, Whitney Zenz ’17, and Associate Professor of Chemistry Beth Abdella ’82 to research ovarian cancer. “The complexity of the question grabbed my attention,” Studer says.

The IMPACT experience was valuable to these students because they want to pursue careers as researchers or in medicine. “IMPACT gave me a taste of the medical field and solidified my choice of doing medicine,” Rakotomahenina says.

For Facile, IMPACT was a unique experience in developing a hypothesis and research design. Her research on ovarian cancer is especially meaningful to her.

“I want to be a doctor and the IMPACT project was an interesting way to learn about a real health problem and contribute in some way to the larger world of science,” Facile says. “IMPACT gave me a unique experience to study and learn a lot about a disease that I may one day treat.”

Award-winning journalist to lecture on politics and community

Mon, 04/11/2016 - 2:48pm

Award-winning political journalist Dante Chinni will deliver a lecture at St. Olaf College April 18 titled American Fault Lines: Politics, Community, and the 2016 Election.

His talk, which will begin at 4 p.m. in Viking Theater, is free and open to the public. It will be streamed and archived online.

Based in Washington, D.C., Chinni has covered politics and the media for more than 15 years. He is the director of the American Communities project, a collaboration of The Wall Street Journal, PBS NewsHour, and WNYC radio that “correlates economic and demographic data to election results and consumer data to see how changes in technology and economics have redefined the social, political, and cultural fault lines” of the United States.

Chinni also writes the regular Politics Counts online column for The Wall Street Journal and is the creator of Patchwork Nation, which won a 2009 Knight Batten Award for journalistic innovation and is the focus of the book Our Patchwork Nation published in 2010.

A native of Detroit and a graduate of Michigan State University, Chinni has worked as a reporter-researcher at Newsweek and a senior associate at the Project for Excellence in Journalism. He has written for publications including The Economist, Columbia Journalism Review, and the Washington Post Magazine.

Chinni’s visit to St. Olaf is sponsored by Pi Sigma Alpha, the Political Science Honor Society, and St. Olaf’s Institute for Freedom and Community, which aims to foster intellectual inquiry and meaningful discussion of important political and social issues.

St. Olaf student earns State Department scholarship

Tue, 04/05/2016 - 10:55am

St. Olaf College student Abbigail Hull ’17 will travel to China this summer to participate in an immersive language program after receiving a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship.

The program, among the most competitive scholarship competitions in the country, sends U.S. students to language institutes around the globe as part of an effort to increase the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.

Hull will be studying at the Dalian University of Technology in Dalian, China. In addition to 20 hours a week of structured language class time, she will live with a Chinese host family and participate in cultural excursions.

She will also take an optional environmental course that will focus on Chinese climate change and environmental policy — a learning opportunity that builds on Hull’s experience last summer studying the environmental and social effects of a government water and soil conservation station in Northwest China through St. Olaf’s Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program and the Luce Foundation Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment grant.

Hull also participated in the Asian Conversations program at St. Olaf, a learning community that introduces students to some of the key texts of Asia as well as key historical, cultural, political, and linguistic constructs through an integrated sequence of three courses. During Interim, students in the program travel to Japan and China to learn about the culture and practice the language firsthand.

“This opportunity with the Critical Language Scholarship program would not have been possible without the incredible study abroad experiences I have had through St. Olaf,” Hull says.

Participants in the Critical Language Scholarship Program are expected to continue their language study beyond the scholarship and apply their critical language skills in their future professional careers.

An Asian studies and psychology major at St. Olaf, Hull plans to pursue a career in an international nonprofit organization that focuses on either the environmental sector or women’s empowerment and education in China.

The sounds of a ‘super’ internship

Tue, 03/29/2016 - 3:29pm

John Kronlokken ‘16 (right) says Eric Fawcett ’92 (left) has been “a role model of how to function creatively, both as a business owner and as a musician.”

If you were one of the millions of people following the Super Bowl on social media this year, you might have seen a video or two featuring the work of John Kronlokken ‘16.

Kronlokken, along with Eric Fawcett ‘92, was part of a team that created a social media campaign for audio equipment corporation Bose that was publicized during the week leading up to the Super Bowl.

They turned tweets of trash talk between Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos fans into music videos that were released on various social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

Kronlokken worked with Fawcett to create 20 tracks for these videos. “My role in this project was really rewarding because I was involved in many different areas of music production,” says Kronlokken, who demoed, mixed, and arranged the music.

Then Kronlokken and Fawcett traveled to Boston, where they spent the week preceding the Super Bowl at Bose Studios. Fawcett, who was the music director of this project, was brought in by a New York-based music branding agency called Music and Strategy. The combined team spent an intense three days shooting all 20 of the videos, which feature a core band composed of Fawcett, Kronlokken, and three other musicians. “I got to play drums, percussion, guitar, keyboard, and I got to be a DJ,” Kronlokken says.

His experience at Bose Studios was a “life-changing moment,” says Kronlokken, “because it clearly solidified what I’m supposed to be doing.”

From the classroom to the real world
Kronlokken took the first steps toward Bose Studios last spring, when he attended an Alumni in Residence event coordinated by the St. Olaf College Piper Center for Vocation and Career that featured Fawcett.

The Alumni in Residence program brings St. Olaf graduates back to campus to provide students with information about specialized careers in specific fields. Kronlokken attended the event on a whim, but he was immediately taken with Fawcett’s work. Kronlokken struck Fawcett as “bright, ambitious, and confident.”

That initial connection led to an internship at Egg Music, which Kronlokken has sustained and developed since.

Fawcett, an award-winning drummer, founded Egg Music with acclaimed songwriter John Hermanson ‘93 after more than a decade of touring with their band Spymob. Egg specializes in creating custom music for all forms of media, including film, television, and radio. It aims to empower musicians and foster creativity.

Kronlokken spent the summer interning at this dynamic company, where every day was different and his own contributions were diverse. Fawcett says he and Hermanson quickly realized that Kronlokken “would say yes to whatever we asked him to do and then do something with it that we hadn’t even thought of.”

At Egg, Kronlokken worked directly with clients on recording projects, “getting to see how the business runs on the front line.” He also spent some of his time behind the scenes in the company’s music library, where he organized custom tracks by assigning keywords to each.

“Real-world experience is a really important part of this liberal arts experience,” says Kronlokken, who considers his internship at Egg “an important capstone to my St. Olaf career.”

Fawcett agrees. He says that St. Olaf’s “rich liberal arts education taught me how to write, how to communicate, how to question, and I’ve used that in every gig that I’ve ever had in music, whether I was drumming, or whether I was pitching new work for Egg.” For all that the liberal arts offer, though, “getting practical experience at a place like Egg” is invaluable, according to the musician.

A constructive and collaborative relationship
Gaining real-world experience is perhaps even more imperative for students like Kronlokken who are looking to pursue careers in the competitive music industry. Before his internship at Egg, Kronlokken was already well on his way — he is the chair of DNNR PRTY, a student-run record label that provides networking, performing, and recording opportunities to St. Olaf musicians and cultivates an alternative music scene on campus.

In addition, he has performed with the St. Olaf Jazz ensemble as a drummer and with the St. Olaf Band and St. Olaf Orchestra as a classical percussionist. In fact, Kronlokken just travelled to Cuba this March on tour with the Jazz band.

As an economics and music major planning to work as a record producer, Kronlokken is especially grateful for “the opportunity to collaborate with these experienced industry veterans.”

During his time at Egg, Kronlokken says, “I found my true passion, what made me tick, that sweet spot.”

Yet the most important outcome of Kronlokken’s internship is the relationship that he has cultivated with Fawcett. For Kronlokken, Fawcett has been a mentor, “a role model of how to function creatively, both as a business owner and as a musician.”

Kronlokken emphasizes, though, that Fawcett has also been a collaborator. “From day one, for someone who is so experienced in the music industry and so talented,” he says, “Eric has been the most open and the most supportive collaborator.”

And for Fawcett? “John is always there. He’s like half my age, and I have no hesitation getting his second opinion on all of this stuff,” he says.

So when Fawcett was planning his trip to Boston this January, he didn’t ask if he could bring his summer intern. He asked if he could bring his “right-hand man.”

Listen to just a few of the music videos Kronlokken and Fawcett created for Bose here:

Making connections in the fine arts

Mon, 03/28/2016 - 2:54pm

One third of St. Olaf College students are involved in music, and many want to make music part of their career — as musicians or as managers. Many others major or participate in theater, dance, and studio art, and want to make their career on the stage or to show their work in a gallery.

St. Olaf alumni have pursued a broad range of careers in the fine arts successfully, and, over the years, they have been generous in sharing their experiences and networks with current St. Olaf students.

The college’s new Ole Arts event will connect St. Olaf alumni and current students. The event aims to help students answer questions like: How do you become successful as an artist? A musician? A dancer? An actor or director? How do you overcome the many challenges faced by young artists? How do you support yourself when you are starting out? How do you find funding to support your work at the beginning of your career?

The April 2 event will be held at the Public Functionary Gallery, where the St. Olaf 5th Year Emerging Artist program will have its first gallery opening in the Twin Cities. In the future, Ole Arts will rotate between other venues.

Ole Arts will provide students interested in pursuing careers in music, theater, dance, visual arts, arts management, arts education, art therapies, photography, and creative and design fields with the opportunity to network with alumni already in the field. Networking provides students with a valuable opportunity for career advice and opens doors for job shadows and internships.

Ole Arts is the newest addition to the St. Olaf College Piper Center for Vocation and Career’s Ole Suite. Other Ole Suite networking events include Ole Law, Ole Biz, Oles for the Public Interest, and Ole Med. The Piper Center provides resources and experiences designed to help students leverage their liberal arts education to achieve their full potential. The Center is dedicated to helping students successfully start careers following graduation through career counseling, interview practice, and resume reviews.

Institute for Freedom and Community to host symposium on ‘Disagreement’

Thu, 03/24/2016 - 3:51pm

St. Olaf College’s Institute for Freedom and Community will host a two-day symposium March 31 and April 1 titled Disagreement – a Symposium for Constructive Political Discourse and Inquiry.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will feature three prominent guest speakers.

“Coarse rhetoric and contemptuous politics are defining features of our times. This symposium, as well as our work on campus through the Institute programs, examines the polarizing incivility of public engagement today and what it would take to have civility in our public debate,” says Dan Hofrenning, the director of the Institute for Freedom and Community and a professor of political science at St. Olaf.

The symposium sessions will begin on Thursday evening, March 31, and continue with two sessions on Friday afternoon.

Mark Kingwell will kick off the symposium with a lecture titled Jerks, Asshats, and the Unstable Politics of Civility that begins at 7 p.m. on March 31 in Tomson Hall 280.

Kingwell, author of A Civil Tongue: Justice, Dialogue, and the Politics of Pluralism as well as several other books and numerous articles on related topics, is a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. In his lecture, he will argue that a robust account of civil discourse, rooted in a sense of shared vulnerability, is our only viable path forward.

Jonathan Haidt will deliver a lecture titled What on Earth is Happening to our Country? The Moral Psychology of Political Division that begins at 3 p.m. on April 1 in the Black and Gold Ballrooms of Buntrock Commons.

Haidt will draw from his recent book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion to discuss polarization and politics in the 2016 campaign. Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Sarah Sobieraj will complete the series with a lecture titled Extreme Incivility and Political Voice that begins at 4:30 p.m. on April 1 in the Black and Gold Ballrooms of Buntrock Commons. An associate professor of sociology at Tufts University, she is also the author of The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility.

The first two lectures will be streamed and archived on the St. Olaf multimedia site.

About The Institute
The Institute for Freedom and Community was established at St. Olaf in 2015 to encourage free inquiry and meaningful debate of important political and social issues. The Institute programs, including coursework, the Public Affairs Conversation, public affairs internships, and public lectures, aim to challenge assumptions, question easy answers, and foster constructive, respectful dialogue among those with differing values and contending points of view.