Tag Archives: St. Olaf College

Student Profile: Will Lutterman, St. Olaf College

Will Lutterman is a sophomore studying Economics, Environmental Studies and Statistics at St Olaf College.  In his first year at St Olaf, Will wanted to pursue his passion for public policy through opportunities that would give him practical experience.  He explains, “I see my college education going hand in hand with community development work.  They are equally valuable to me.”  In exploring his options, he was connected to a city councilwoman who opened the door for him to get involved in many projects throughout the community.  Among the many projects Will was heavily involved in were Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), Northfield Downtown Development CorporWill Luttermanation (NDDC), Northfield Marriage Amendment Opposition, Northfield Anaerobic Digester, and an independent study on job creation in Northfield.  Will says, “[Public policy] is exactly what I want to do when I graduate. I’m using this to build a repertoire of passion, strengths, skills, and experience in order to tackle the larger world head on.”

Through all of his community involvement Will has taken on an incredible amount of leadership roles and pursued many impressive opportunities for civic engagement.  For example, through PACE Will was able to research and present a new style of energy retrofitting program.  He even wrote the Northfield’s documentation and designed the entire program.  Through NDDC Will built a database of local businesses, crunched data on the town’s industry profile and is now working to provide and analysis of the local economy to promote economic development.  He provided the City Council with information about the proposed Marriage Amendment and testified in opposition, which brought the council to approve a resolution to publicly oppose the amendment.  This fall, Will began to do research for an initial feasibility study of a proposed anaerobic digester near Northfield.  Currently, he is preparing for a J-Term independent study for which he plans to do a comprehensive job creation analysis of Northfield based on his previous work through NDDC.  This will ultimately serve an academic purpose as well as advise the city in regards to economic development.

Will has found that after only one year at St Olaf his civic engagement service has connected him with the community on a very intimate level.  He says, “I grew up in the Twin Cities, but Northfield is my real home. After living here only a year, I find joy coming back and I want to make a real and serious commitment to a place where I see people coming together and living their lives in the best ways possible.”

Minnesota Campuses Receive Presidential Recognition

Augsburg College is one of six colleges and universities receiving Presidential Awards in the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its President's Honor Rollcommitment to community service.

The Honor Roll, launched in 2006, annually recognizes institutions of higher education for their commitment to and achievement in community service. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including scope and innovation of service projects, percentage of student participation in service activities, incentives for service, and the extent to which the school offers academic service-learning courses.

The College of Saint Benedict and Metropolitan State University, were recognized on the Honor Roll With Distinction.

Other Minnesota Honor Roll institutions include:

  • Carleton College
  • Central Lakes College
  • Century College
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Inver Hills Community College
  • Macalester College
  • Minnesota School of Business-Rochester
  • Normandale Community College
  • North Hennepin Community College
  • Saint John’s University
  • St. Cloud State University
  • St. Olaf College
  • University of Minnesota, Crookston
  • University of St. Thomas
  • Winona State University

Congratulations to all of these campuses for their extraordinary commitments to serving their communities.

American Conversations at St. Olaf College

By Maria Ortiz

American Conversations (AmCon) is a learning community that introduces students in their first two years at St. Olaf College to the liberal arts through a sequence of four civically engaged courses. Assistant Professor of History Eric Fure-Slocum has adopted the theme of citizenship for his two-year tenure as AmCon lead teacher. Over the two year span students have had the opportunity to pursue the conversations that have shaped the history and culture of the United States. From the beginning, the AmCon program has encouraged students to seek to live Thomas Jefferson’s dream that free and educated citizens should learn to understand what is going on in the world, and to keep their part of it going right. With this model in mind, students dedicated two years of their life to learning about, practicing, and knowing the enlightened citizenry indispensable for us to thrive as a nation.

American Conversations

Click image for more information about American Conversations at St. Olaf

The idea behind AmCon is to have conversations about American values, and our role in the world.  What exactly are America’s values? What do we mean when we talk about freedom, rights, and justice for all? What is the American dream, and where did it come from?  The conversations that students engage in move through history, literature, art, and a variety of social sciences focusing on what students now refer to as “dense facts”. Most of all, this two year experience is a community where everyone learns by having conversation — with professors, with the material, and with each other.

The first sequence of courses provided the opportunity to think about voting, specifically the ways in which the practice of voting shapes American citizenship and identity. Students worked in groups in the Northfield, Minnesota area to register people who had not already registered to vote. Students also spoke to Northfield High School social studies classes about the importance of being active in their community and nation by voting. Some students also volunteered to be trained and fill a full shift on Election Day as an Election Judge.

The second sequence in the course focused on sustainability in Northfield and the nearby area. Students discovered how Northfield came to be by examining project sites historically, culturally, socially, environmentally and physically as the landscape was made and re-made throughout time.

In the second year students focused on immigration, migration and ethnicity in early- 20th- century U.S. Students created a workable curriculum for middle school or high school students and discovered resources and great examples of what works to best to support the immigrant population in Northfield.

The final sequence provided a perspective to understanding globalization and citizenship. Students focused on America’s past and present global presence. Students created a segment for local radio stations based on their research.

AmCon gave students the opportunity to reflect on their experiences and articulate what they had learned over the two years. Nate Jacobi, Assistant Director of Civic Engagement in the Center for Experiential Learning facilitated the final conversation. Students had a pre-class assignment to journal about the impact AmCon had on their education as well as their impact beyond the classroom. During their last session together students created a timeline of their experiences together, then broke into small groups to discuss their future plans, what skills they developed, and what civic engagement means to them.

Students agreed that understanding how things work and finding ways to use resources and connections to help the community is important. The two years these students had together working in community, collaborating, and making change was invaluable. According to Jacobi, AmCon provides a deeper form of service-learning profoundly affecting both students and the Northfield community.