Gustavus Campus News
In a shimmering ballroom at the JW Marriott Mall of America, over 550 attendees gathered on Saturday, November 11 to “get their crown on” for an evening of food, drinks, music, dancing, and silent and live auctions with all proceeds benefiting Gustavus Adolphus College’s library endowment and scholarships for first-generation college students.
All told, the evening raised over $370,000 for student scholarships and the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library.
“In the rapidly changing landscape of higher education, there is a positive momentum at Gustavus due to the dedication of our faculty and staff, the hard work of our students, the passion of our alumni and volunteers, and the generosity of our donors,” President Rebecca M. Bergman said.
After a cocktail reception and silent auction featuring Gustavus athletics apparel, College memorabilia, gift baskets, travel opportunities, events, and more, guests made their way to the ballroom and were greeted by Twin Cities media personality Carly Aplin Zucker ’07 and Gustavus communication studies professor Phillip Voight, who served as emcees throughout the evening.
Before the dinner of filet mignon and locally-sourced walleye, guests were serenaded by Jearlyn Steele, who regularly performs on A Prairie Home Companion and has recorded with artists such as Prince and Mavis Staples. President Bergman also presented the Founders’ Spirit Award to Kraus-Anderson Construction Company in honor of its close relationship with the College over the years and support following the devastating 1998 tornado. The Engelsma family, several members of which are Gustavus graduates, accepted the award on behalf of the company.
Following dinner, a live auction was punctuated by over 200 additional donations to support first-generation Gustavus students and the Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library.
Upon the conclusion of the evening’s program, attendees were encouraged to stay and take part in live karaoke with the Hurricane Karaoke Band, play ring toss for wine and other prizes, capture snapshots of the night in a photo booth, and enjoy tastings by Gustavus alumni-founded companies Bent Paddle Brewery, BET Vodka, Castle Danger Brewery, and the local Chankaska Creek Winery and Ranch.
“The world has great challenges and Gustavus remains committed to equipping our students to go into the world to act,” President Bergman said. “Thank you for all the ways that you support the College.”
A Royal Affair is a biennial fundraiser hosted by Gustavus Adolphus College and the Gustavus Library Associates that benefits scholarships for first-generation students and the College’s Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
As part of the celebration surrounding the 53rd Nobel Conference, Reproductive Technology: How Far Do We Go?, senior dance and philosophy major Allison Retterath choreographed Out, Behind, Overlooked to explore the balance between rapidly advancing technologies and inequities in availability. The piece was created through research, discussion, and movement exploration. Each dancer that participated in the piece played a vital role in the creative process.
Here, Retterath explores the concept, creation, and execution of the piece.
I developed Out, Behind, Overlooked for Nobel Conference 53 with the hopes of portraying the ethical implications of reproductive technology through dance. Translating such a large, complex topic into movement involved a lot of abstracting. Although dance is traditionally described as a medium in which movement tells a story, I believe dance is more about communicating a small essence of a larger whole—with the larger whole in this case being reproductive technology. However, in order to get clear about what that essence is, I first had to narrow down exactly what I was trying to communicate.
I began the research process by gathering books written by the speakers in the Nobel Conference. I was especially drawn to Dr. Ruha Benjamin’s book, People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier. I was particularly fascinated with how Dr. Benjamin challenged the dualistic nature of debates surrounding reproductive technology. She highlighted the complexities of reproductive technology traditionally considered relevant only in a scientific context. Rather than discussing reproductive technology in a purely scientific manner, Dr. Benjamin argues for a social reading of reproductive technology that emphasizes inequities in both development and access. She ultimately humanizes reproductive technology, which is a natural consequence of communicating reproductive technology through human bodies in dance.
After reading Dr. Benjamin’s work, I decided to focus on communicating the concept of making decisions—of being forced to choose when you have limited options and people influencing what ultimately should be a very personal choice. Every person using reproductive technology has a different social history and experience with the technology that shapes their decision-making. Additionally, portraying a lack of equitable say in what technologies are developed, how those technologies are used, and who has access to those technologies was a fundamental goal in the creative process.
In addition to using Dr. Benjamin’s research surrounding the social concerns in reproductive technology, the performance space itself had a huge influence on the development of Out, Behind, Overlooked. Anderson Hall is made up of multiple platforms at different heights, a staircase with two different offshoots, and a counter space across from the stairs. Although I originally planned on using just the main staircase, the diversity of locations offered too unique of an opportunity to pass up.
The ability to use the different spaces in Anderson Hall was instrumental in the spatial portrayal of the difference in experience between dancers. While a dancer performed a solo on one of the lower platforms, a trio stood at the highest platform quite literally looking down on her. The shallow counter space provided the spatial manifestation of feeling as if you don’t quite have enough room to make a decision. The dancers, either as a solo, duet, or trio, performed individually in different areas of the space.
Each grouping portrayed different aspects of the overall concept while simultaneously showing the multiplicity of experiences with reproductive technology. Just before a grouping completed their movement, the next grouping would begin. The transitions between each grouping involved a sense of observation carrying judgment of some sort. The dancers looked in on the experience of the others, not quite seeing the whole story, yet choosing to pass judgment or ignore one another.
When the individual groupings were finished, all of the groupings returned to their corresponding areas in the space and repeated their movement with more urgency and skipping certain movements. This condensed, second-appearance of the groupings provided a sort of summary of their experiences. The simultaneous performance of each grouping showed how all of these individual experiences happen at the same time: we all have different stories and experiences even though we are living in the same world in the same time.
Another mode of showing the dancers’ differing experiences within the same world was the costuming. All of the costumes matched in terms of color scheme and general style, but the costumes themselves differed greatly. While some dancers wore long pants and long-sleeve shirts, others wore skirts and sleeveless shirts. Although every dancer’s costume fit together, each individual was different—showing how reproductive technology affects people differently depending on their identities and experiences.
The costuming, use of space, and movement reflected the multiplicity of experience involving reproductive technology. Ultimately, Dr. Benjamin’s work inspired the creation of a piece focused on the application of a broad scientific topic onto the lives of people. My project was one of humanization—an attempt to put a face on the differing experiences of people affected by a narrowly viewed science.
Allison Retterath is a senior dance honors and philosophy double major from Rosemount, Minn. She is especially intrigued by feminist philosophy and American Pragmatism, and enjoys exploring how those facets of philosophy intersect with movement and choreography.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
Robert Galinsky teaches writing and performance at Rikers Island, New York City’s main jail complex, and is head speaker coach for TEDxTeen. In support of the upcoming performance of Our Country’s Good (the story of prisoners on their way from Britain to the penal colony of Australia in the 1700s), Galinsky will meet with Gustavus Adolphus College students and participate in a talk-back with students and audience following Thursday night’s opening performance. Tickets are still available for all performances.
We asked Galinsky a few questions about his work…
Gustavus: Describe your work with incarcerated young people at Rikers Island—what do you do?
Galinksy: Because incarcerated youth have so much working against them, they have to work much harder than the average teen in order to experience success. They are the opposite of the worst of the worst, they’re “the best of the best.” So, I enter their space with books, magazines, word games, paper, pencils, scripts, exercises, and improvisations, and we all find our place with the materials and we create, speak, play and debrief—in any order. We have discussions around global crisis and local issues and then we write, rewrite, and recite. “The best of the best” — absorbed and inspired.
Gustavus: For young people who are incarcerated, how does writing and performing change their lives?
Galinsky: Writing, reading, and/or performing lets the barricaded voices of my students come out into the open. The majority of incarcerated young people are constantly being told they’re wrong. In my workshop, one of the first things I say to my students—loudly to the entire group—”You are not wrong. No one in this room is wrong.” Every kid that’s ever heard me say that looks at me like I’m crazy, like there’s something wrong with me, because they are always hearing how wrong they are. The sound of the words “you are not wrong” reignites dormant connections that are in the kids’ brains. Hearing the words over and over gets them believing the truth: That they aren’t wrong.
Gustavus: What are the parallels in Our Country’s Good to your own work with those who are incarcerated?
Galinksy: There is a lot of “make-believe” going on amongst people who are incarcerated, staff included. Everyone is bound by the fact that they’re equals, fully owned and bonded by “the man”—staff included. The characters in Our Country’s Good are all maneuvering just like those I work with in incarceration settings. When you’re not allowed to be your own person, you’re a slave, and the people in Our Country’s Good are finally being allowed to explore themselves by playing someone else. So, the parallels are layers that contradict sometimes, and at times dovetail with one another: being true to one’s beliefs, posing and posturing, knowing your “role” and surviving, “acting the part” and thriving, perhaps even finding a clearer approach on how to live a positive present in order to feed a bountiful future.
Gustavus: What do you hope is the takeaway for audiences who come to see Our Country’s Good?
Galinsky: I hope the audience sees each performer’s emotion, truth, and talent and is moved to change something, anything, in their lives. I hope because the audience saw Amy Seham’s group of Gustavus student truth-seekers making art and allowing us to be witness, that they let more love and hope grow.
Gustavus: What do you hope is the takeaway for the Gustavus students who are producing and performing in it?
Galinsky: I wish that the Gustavus students value and enjoy the time that they spent researching around the play’s text, its history, and what other audiences and productions over time have to say about the show. I hope they never forget the burning excitement that Amy Seham brings to the activity of learning and being a servant of the theatre. Lastly, I hope that everyone involved, from crew to cast, found something inside of themselves they didn’t know existed prior to the process of putting on the production. And that it will help change the world we live in for the better.
Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
The Gustavus Adolphus College Society of Physics Students was recently awarded the Blake Lilly Prize by the national Society of Physics Students organization for engaging the local community in physics learning. The Gustavus chapter is one of 13 from across the country recognized for making “a genuine effort to positively influence the attitudes of school children and the general public about physics.”
The group was selected based on their participation in “Science on Saturday,” an annual event in which the Society of Physics Students partners with other Gustavus student groups to lead a variety of science demonstrations and experiments for area youth. The elementary students learn basic scientific principles through fun, hands-on experiments with supervision and guidance from Gustavus students.
“Our physics majors have the opportunity to take rigorous courses and interact one-on-one with professors through research,” Gustavus physics professor and group adviser Jessie Petricka said. “What makes the department special, however, is the community. The prize recognizes the extraordinary effort of the students to build that community both on and off campus.”
“The variety of academic and social activities organized by the Society of Physics Students help students build strong relationships with their peers and professors,” said senior physics major and club co-president Elise Le Boulicaut, a native of Angers, France. “We are very happy to have been recognized with this award, as it acknowledges our efforts to promote the physics department and build a strong community.”
The Blake Lilly Prize is named after and given in honor of the late Blake Lilly, a physics student at Georgia Tech in the late 1980s. The prize is selected each year by the national council of the Society of Physics Students, which considers public service, community engagement, outreach efforts, and audience interaction before making award decisions.
In her windowless office in downtown St. Paul, Cathy ten Broeke ’91 slides some papers across a small round table. They are pages of “Heading Home: Minnesota’s Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, 2016-2017.” It is a plan backed by leaders of 11 state agencies and Governor Mark Dayton. Ten Broeke does not mince words. “Housing stability can and should be a bipartisan issue,” she says.
Nowhere on these pages does the name Cathy ten Broeke appear.
And yet this plan—and Minnesota’s previous and future ones—are her life’s work. She is the state’s director to prevent and end homelessness. In her 25 years as an advocate for housing stability, she has been arrested for sleeping in downtown Minneapolis, and the recipient of a Bush Fellowship. She has washed the dirty socks and underwear of men living on Twin Cities streets, and served as a special adviser for the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness in Washington D.C.
Three states have eradicated veteran homelessness: Virginia, Connecticut, and Delaware. Under ten Broeke’s leadership, Minnesota will be next, hopefully by Christmas.
“None of this work is done by one person,” she says.
But in Minnesota, it could not have been done without her.
“I was ready to go and do something,” ten Broeke says of her choice to become a Gustie. Having grown up and attended high school in the Big 10 town of Iowa City, Iowa, she was looking for a small liberal arts college with a great choir. When she visited Gustavus, “The place was so warm and friendly, I was sold.”
It was harder to sell her on a major. Education, music, psychology… Her favorite course was “Great Speeches in History.” She graduated having sampled a variety of topics and disciplines, with a major in psychology and an “accidental” major in speech communications. And she had developed an interest in social justice. “I had no idea what to do with those things, but I learned at Gustavus how to think about really big ideas and issues. And I learned that being able to articulate and communicate those issues is just as important as thinking about them.”
She started working as a server at Palomino in downtown Minneapolis—a cloth napkin, salad fork, soup spoon kind of place. She went to rural China to teach for a year, which fueled her interest in poverty issues. When she returned, she ran into Gustavus pal Josh Lund ’91, who told her about a part-time opening where he worked: the all-male St. Stephen’s Shelter in south Minneapolis. “I knew nothing about homelessness. I had never met or talked to anyone who had experienced homelessness that I knew,” ten Broeke says. After that first night at that shelter, “I knew immediately that I was going to do this for a while.”
She didn’t stay at St. Stephen’s out of an amorphous desire to help people. “I might have been thinking that on the first night. But I learned right away that I was there to work with people. I don’t do this to be altruistic, but because a society with homelessness is not how our society should be.”
One day at the restaurant, a diner chastised her for bringing him the wrong spoon.
Ten Broeke quit on the spot. She would work at St. Stephen’s for the next eight years, becoming its director.
“Cathy really stood out because she immediately took an activist approach to the everyday struggles that we dealt with,” says pal Lund, now a Spanish professor at Notre Dame. “She was talented in working one-on-one with the men. She was especially talented at taking the everyday problems we saw and translating them to policy and large social questions.” It’s why, he says, she’s been so important and influential in the conversation ever since.
True, she says. Though she loved working directly with the men at St. Stephen’s, “I started to become dissatisfied. We’d finally assist someone into housing, and 10 men would show up that I had never seen before.” She was often advocating for homeless men in Hennepin County courtrooms, and constantly coming up against barriers, particularly for veterans with mental health issues, criminal histories, and past evictions. “When housing is tight, landlords can be extremely picky. They often don’t want to choose someone with a blemish,” she says. She began to believe that homelessness is less the result of personal choices and more the result of policy choices. “We did not have widespread homelessness, and there were essentially no homeless children, until the 1980s,” she says. “It was the result of a loss of affordable housing.”
And she began to see housing stability as a fundamental platform for success for people in all the things that indicate success in America: educational achievement (kids who are homeless do poorly in school), a strong workforce (a physical address is almost always necessary for a job), healthcare and its cost (People experiencing homelessness tend to access expensive emergency care rather than preventative care in a clinic). “Doctors would say to me, ‘I wish I could give a prescription for housing,’” she says.
The “housing first” model is key to getting people access to other stabilizing forces, and it is the policy approach homeless advocates push for: “Once housing is stable, then you can surround a person with the support they want and need to store medications, have regular access to any treatments or services, hold a job, and reduce stress for their children.”
But in 2001, when Hennepin County’s then-commissioner Gail Dorfman called to ask ten Broeke to come work with her on county policy related to housing, homelessness, and mental health, Ten Broeke (sitting in St. Stephen’s dark basement, surrounded by dirty laundry) said, “I don’t know anything about policy.”
Dorfman said, “Yes, Cathy, you do.”
Ten Broeke helped lead Hennepin County and Minneapolis efforts to end homelessness for 12 years, minus the the year she spent on a Bush Fellowship studying the national movement, and the months she spent in Washington D.C. as a special adviser to the federal director working on homelessness issues. It was little surprise when, in 2013, she was hired by the state of Minnesota to create an inter-agency council to end homelessness by 2020.
Fifty percent of Minnesota’s homeless individuals who are children and youth. At least 1,000 are young people who are homeless without a parent. Proficiency in reading among Minnesota homeless third-graders is twenty-one percent, compared to 42 percent for those receiving free and reduced lunch, and 61 percent statewide for all children.
Today, through ten Broeke’s leadership of the Minnesota Interagency Council on Homelessness, the number of homeless persons in Minnesota has decreased 7 percent statewide and 20 percent among families with children since 2014. These reductions among families with children are among the most significant decreases in the U.S.
In March, the federal government confirmed that homelessness among veterans has been eradicated in southwest Minnesota. In June, the federal confirmed northwest Minnesota and west central Minnesota as well.
Northeastern Minnesota, central Minnesota, and Ramsey County are very close as well. There are 242 homeless vets remaining in Minnesota. Ten Broeke hopes to have their housing ready by Christmas, about the time the State’s 2018-2020 plan to prevent and end homelessness will be unveiled.
An updated plan is necessary because there are still more than 7,400 homeless Minnesotans who are not veterans. Most are children and parents, some have chronic health issues, and at least 1000 are young people who are homeless without a parent.
“I think about that long arc of history—each of us has a role somewhere on that path. It doesn’t mean we have to carry the ball the whole way. I am only one piece of a very big movement. This is a relay—a justice relay—and the last mile is always the hardest.
“But I firmly believe that we can end homelessness, and that we very well may during my lifetime. And I’m going to keep trying to work my way out of a job.”
Nicole LaVoi, PhD, a senior lecturer at the University of Minnesota and co-director of the Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport, will present on the current state of female athletics and coaching at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, November 13 in Gustavus Adolphus College’s Nobel Hall Room 201. The event is free and open to the public.
Hosted by the Gustavus Department of Health and Exercise Science, the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Program, and the Department of Philosophy with support from the Steve Wilkinson Endowed Professorship of Sport Ethics and Tennis, the lecture will feature research on girls and women in sport as well as context and reflections provided by LaVoi, a 1991 Gustavus graduate.
“Dr. LaVoi is a role model for what it means to use your scholarship for social change,” Gustavus health and exercise science and gender, women, and sexuality studies professor Hayley Russell said. “She’s a dynamic and engaging speaker who is a leading expert on girls and women in sport, and we’re excited to have her return to campus to share her knowledge and enthusiasm with the Gustavus community.”
Leading up to the lecture, LaVoi answered five questions about women in sport and her time at Gustavus…
Gustavus: What do you see as the greatest advances in women’s athletics in the past 20 years? What areas still need to be addressed?
LaVoi: Women are playing sports in record numbers at every level, but the percentage of women coaches and media coverage of female athletes is disproportionate.
Gustavus: What is the current state of women in coaching in the United States?
LaVoi: The percentage of women coaching women at the collegiate level is stagnant at around 40 percent, and women are still denied opportunity to coach men. Therefore most coaching jobs in college athletics go to men, and it is no better at other levels of competition.
Gustavus: Where would you like to see in women’s athletics 10 years from now? How do we make it happen?
LaVoi: I would LOVE to see 60-70 percent of women being coached by women! It happens with a LOT of collective effort to change the system and structure of athletics at every level.
Gustavus: How did your experience as a Gustavus student help prepare you for professional success?
LaVoi: It gave me a solid academic foundation, a great network, and provided me with caring and supportive mentors that I could rely on throughout my career.
Gustavus: Do you have any advice for current Gustavus students (or athletes)?
LaVoi: FOLLOW YOUR PASSION!
On Thursday, November 2 the entire Gustavus Adolphus College community will come together for a day of giving as we celebrate Give to Gustavus Day!
Here is rundown of what to expect…
Give to Gustavus Day is our annual giving day. It is the biggest and best day to support the Gustavus Fund. The impact of these gifts are felt immediately as they get put to work right where they are needed most. Gusties from across the country and across the globe will have a chance to donate and help unlock challenges sponsored by other Gusties. The giving day will run from 6 a.m to 9 p.m. To find out more, visit the Give to Gustavus Day webpage.
ALL-DAY LIVESTREAM FROM CAMPUS
New this year, we will also be hosting a livestream from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m from the Evelyn Young Dining Room. Tune in to watch online as livestream hosts Tim Kennedy ’82, Tom Young ’88, and Angela Erickson ’01 meet with with special faculty, staff, and student visitors all day.
Class of 1997 alumna Kara Buckner will be joining us all day as our livestream roving reporter. She’ll be popping into rehearsals, practices and public spaces to talk with students and give those off campus a chance to feel part of campus life for a day.
We’ll be ready to go beginning at 6 a.m. on Thursday! Learn more and give online, and be sure to use #FireUpTheRouser and #GivetoGustavus to share on social media!
Gustavus Adolphus College honored three outstanding employees yesterday at the College’s annual Founders Day celebration, which recognizes the dedication of the iconic Old Main on October 31, 1876. The award recipients were recognized at the daily chapel service and a short reception in Alumni Hall. The 2017 Founders Day marks the 141st anniversary of the College’s relocation to the Saint Peter, Minn. campus.
The 2017 Founders Day celebration coincided with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, when Martin Luther sparked the Protestant movement with the publication of this Ninety-five Theses. Founded by Swedish-Lutheran immigrants in 1862, Gustavus traces its roots back to the influence of Martin Luther.
President Rebecca M. Bergman’s homily, focused on Paul’s letter to the Romans (12:1-2), wove together the life of the College with Luther’s background as a professor of theology and the living influence of the Reformation.
“I ask each of you to ponder a probing question,” President Rebecca M. Bergman said. “Are you conforming, reforming, or transforming?”
Bruce Volek is the 2017 winner of the Augusta Carlson Schultz Award, which recognizes an outstanding support staff employee who has demonstrated exceptional service and dedication to the College. Named in honor of one of the first employees of the Gustavus Dining Service in the late 1800s, the Augusta Carlson Schultz award winners exemplify the dedication and spirit of service of the support staff who continue to contribute to the success of the College. Volek, a Gustavus employee since 1992, is the director of landscape services in the facilities management division, where he plans and executes projects, schedules routine upkeep, and supervises landscaping staff. Volek’s team is responsible for mowing, maintaining, improving, and grooming the College’s beautiful 350-acre campus.
Kelly Waldron ’84 has been named the 2017 winner of the Erik Norelius Award for the Outstanding Administrative Employee. The award, named for the College’s founder and first teacher, honors an administrative employee who exemplifies the vision, dedication, and service shown by Norelius. Waldron, who serves as the controller within the finance office, is responsible for management and accounting of budget lines and moneys across campus. Known for her calm manner and precise work, she is a key member of several important finance committees and has been instrumental in the introduction of multiple software systems and budgeting processes since joining the Gustavus community as an employee in 1998.
Chris Gilbert is the recipient of the 2017 Faculty Service Award, the College’s highest recognition for distinguished service activities across campus. Professor Gilbert, who teaches in the Department of Political Science, is an expert in religion in politics, third parties in American politics, and the politics of Minnesota. Also recognized with the College’s Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching (1996), and the Gustavus Faculty Scholarly Achievement Award (2007), Gilbert recently co-authored with two Gustavus students a book chapter, “The Resurgence of Evangelical Political Strength in 2016 Minnesota Electoral Politics,” which will appear in the forthcoming book God at the Grassroots 2016: The Christian Right in American Politics.
The lights dim, the crowd falls silent, and the actors fill the wings, taking a final deep breath and recalling their first lines. For Gustavus Adolphus College senior Georgia Bebler, the lines are a second thought. She is checking zippers, buttons, and each thread, tucking runaway hairs beneath the secured wigs. A final up and down, an approving nod, and the actors turn to face the sellout crowd. Bebler turns the opposite way, hurrying back to prepare for the first costume change.
“The technical elements of costume and set are the two physical things in a professional production that never change. If you can perfect these, regardless of anything else, you have created the necessary foundation to set up your actors and show for success,” Bebler said. “It’s our job to make sure everyone looks exactly the way they are supposed to.”
The theatre and art double major excels behind the scenes. At Gustavus, she spends her time working in the costume shop, designing, creating, and preparing the department for various productions.
Finding her way to her costumes focused theatre major did not take long for Bebler. The Chaska, Minn. native began her time at Gustavus pursuing an art-focused career. Quickly, she found herself immersed in the theatre department, drafting, draping, and altering patterns while enjoying the tight-knit community of her peers and professors.
The spring of her first-year on campus, a close friend convinced Bebler to try the other side of the stage. She has been a member of the campus improv troupe, LineUs, ever since. The student-run organization performs comedy shows throughout the year, bringing theatre and humor to the entire student body.
After spending time on the stage, in the studio, and behind the needle, Bebler explored the possibility of a future career in an offstage role with her expertise. In the spring of her junior year, she began applying to different theatre companies throughout the country. Right away, she was invited to serve as the costumes and wardrobe apprentice for a professional theatre company located in Silverthorne, Colorado, the Lake Dillon Theatre Company. Taking advantage of the provided housing, Bebler packed up, calmed her nerves, and moved west for the summer. Settling into her newfound independence, she thrived in her first professional offstage role. Bebler draped patterns, sewed fabric, and assisted the preparation of the professional actors both before and during show productions.
“I was more prepared than I had expected, yet I also learned that I don’t know everything. That, along with being okay with not being in control, is a very important thing to learn. But one of the most important things I left with was that I knew I made some good calls along the way to end up where I was. That felt good,” Bebler said. “It was very similar to my time behind Gustavus shows, yet a little more difficult. Not only were there union rules, but I also worked with actors of all ages, all personality types, and all different preferences. I definitely learned a lot.”
Outside of the shows, Bebler’s role as an apprentice also involved assisting in Lake Dillon’s Youth Theatre Workshop. The company hosted three-week intensive children’s camps and the employees sought to make the mini-production as close to reality as possible for the kids. Working directly with children, Bebler was able to practice her expertise in costume production while engaging new minds with theater.
“I was surprised how much I loved the kid’s camp. It was extremely rewarding, the kids are just so goofy and so excited to be there,” Bebler laughed.
Looking ahead, Bebler also has a lot to be excited about. Her final shows with LineUs and her lead role as costume designer for the theatre department’s Cabaret production will conclude a successful four years at Gustavus. Beyond that, she is hoping to land exactly where she loves to be, in an offstage role with a theater company and assisting with productions.
“Being involved in the arts at Gustavus is something I am very thankful for,” Bebler said.”The theatre community is full of some incredible people. They respect the arts. And they give us a shot. We leave here ready for what’s next.”
To learn more about the Gustavus Department of Theatre and Dance, visit the departmental website.
The Gustavus Adolphus College Department of Communication Studies was recognized by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) this week as a leader among programs that intentionally and successfully integrate civic responsibility in their majors. Communication studies at Gustavus is one of 22 departments at institutions across the country that have been honored as a model for making civic learning and democratic engagement an expectation for all students who major in that discipline.
Supported by a grant from the Endeavor Foundation, the AAC&U’s initiative aims to limit the civic-free zones of many academic departments by providing guidance to colleges and universities as they tackle one of their most resistant, yet fertile, areas of civic learning by bringing it squarely into where students invest most of their academic attention: their majors.
“Recognition by AAC&U is a great honor and a testament our hard work in reimagining our curriculum to provide the best possible undergraduate liberal arts experience to serve our students and society,” Gustavus communication studies professor and department chair Leila Brammer said. “We have very intentionally developed a variety of curricular experiences that put theory into real-world practice in the community. Through these experiences, students develop advanced understanding of communication and community engagement and hone essential skills for personal, professional, and civic success.”
The path to the communication studies department’s honor stretches back nearly 15 years, when faculty members began to develop and hone civic leadership and social justice opportunities within the curriculum. One of the most transformative results of this curricular redesign is the department’s flagship civic engagement class, Public Discourse, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. The course, in which students choose an issue in their community, research it thoroughly, identify ways that other communities have dealt with similar problems, collaborate with community members in determining the best path forward, and ultimately advocate for the community to take action, has educated over 2,000 Gustavus students since the program began.
“Public Discourse develops liberal arts skills—community-based research, critical thinking, argument, and advocacy—and the sense of empowerment and responsibility necessary for future work with communities,” Brammer explained. “This experience also teaches the humility and collaboration required to fully understand a problem and possible ways to address it before acting and empowers students to see themselves as citizens with responsibilities within their communities.”
Since this intentional curricular focus on civic engagement began, the department has built courses that reinforce and advance the lessons that students learn in Public Discourse, which is often completed during the first year.
Today, community-based coursework can be found in communication studies classes such as Community Advocacy, Video Representation, Deliberation, Media and Democracy, Argumentation, Conflict, Intercultural Communication, Organizational Communication, Crisis Communication, and the Senior Seminar. In addition, the department recently launched a Public Deliberation and Dialogue Program that aims to more fully engage students across campus and provide a resource to community organizations from across the region. The new program will infuse dialogue and deliberation training throughout the campus to prepare students to work with each other and in their communities to lead, support, and collaborate in evidence-based decision making processes.
“The recognition by AAC&U of our communication studies department reiterates what our students and faculty have seen as a preeminent education with the ability to affect change in our community,” associate provost and dean of arts and humanities Micah Maatman said. “This model of engaged civic learning is a hallmark of a Gustavus education that nearly half of our students participate in during the academic year. Moving students’ education outside the classroom has partnered students with community nonprofit organizations to help articulate solutions to problems or to collaborate with public and private agencies to monitor the water quality of the Minnesota River, among many other examples.”
The AAC&U designation is one of several national honors communication studies has received in recent years, including the National Communication Association‘s 2014 Outstanding Basic Course award and the 2013 Rex Mix Department of Distinction Award in the Undergraduate College and University Section.
As the department looks to the future, civic engagement will continue to be a mainstay of the curriculum.
“Our Public Deliberation and Dialogue program builds upon our success as a national leader in civic learning. Across campus and the region, students and community members will learn the principles and practices to engage conversations necessary to address our most challenging problems.” Brammer said. “Collaborative community-based learning empowers students with real world experience, skills, and confidence to succeed in their personal, professional, and civic lives.”
More information about the AAC&U list of 22 institutions that integrate civic responsibility by design into majors and the supporting Endeavor Foundation grant can be found on the AAC&U website.
AAC&U is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Its members are committed to extending the advantages of a liberal education to all students, regardless of academic specialization or intended career. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises nearly 1,400 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size.
Information about AAC&U membership, programs, and publications can be found at www.aacu.org.