Consistent with its long-standing commitment to the neighbor, Augsburg College is collaborating within and beyond the campus on the enhancement of our capacity to engage the community through deliberative dialogue. One of the signatures of an Augsburg education/experience (along with discernment of calling, experience-based learning, and leadership formation) is the development of the capacity to engage in as well as facilitate deliberative practice.
As part of our ‘promise’ to the students we educate as well as the larger community we are called to serve, Augsburg College is dedicated to four common commitments: living faith, active citizenship, global perspective, and meaningful work. These commitments are guided by the work of four centers— the Center for Faith and Learning (http://www.augsburg.edu/acfl/), the Sabo Center for Citizenship and Learning (http://www.augsburg.edu/sabo/), the Center for Global Education (http://www.augsburg.edu/global/), and the Strommen Center for Meaningful Work (http://www.augsburg.edu/cswl/). While these four centers differ in focus, they share an interest in meaningful engagement with public issues and democratic participation.
One expression of this collaboration is our participation with 12 other colleges and universities in a Center for Public Life project, funded by the Kettering Foundation, to promote the development of centers to advance deliberative practice on campus and within surrounding communities. Our particular interest is the incorporation of Kettering’s model of civic engagement and discourse. We see the National Issues Forum model as a framework that could deepen the connection between existing centers at Augsburg that embody precisely the same commitment and underlying principles as a Center for Public Life. We also see our participation with Kettering’s National Issues Forum as a means to create new opportunities for collaboration with Minnesota Humanities, interfaith service initiatives, Campus Compact, and the various neighborhoods and broader communities with whom we regularly interact.
The College’s commitment to collaborate for a greater common good is also expressed though our work with the other Lutheran colleges and universities. A little over a year ago, we entered into an informal partnership with several of our sister institutions—Augustana College (Rock Island, IL), Augustana College (Sioux Falls, SD) Capital University (Columbus, OH), Concordia College (Moorhead, MN), Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, MN), Luther College (Decorah, IA), and Wartburg College (Waverly, IA)—to intentionally serve the callings of our alumni. This project, titled Vocation for Life, is to nurture the vocations of Lutheran college and university alumni through discovery of gifts, ongoing discernment, and promotion of calling in all stages of their lives. Drawing on the rich Lutheran tradition of vocation, the ELCA colleges and universities are committed to collaborating on the design and delivery of programs and activities to foster discovery of vocations for their alumni and others in all aspects of their lives, including their lives as citizens and members of their respective communities.
We anticipate several benefits for our colleges, our alumni, the church, and society, including:
To date, we have hosted one experimental gathering of our alumni and have three more planned. We intend to use what we learn from these experiments to design regional gatherings that will be open to alumni from all twenty-six ELCA colleges.