History professor Greg Kaster explores the intersections of liberal arts learning, current events, and real-world problem solving from the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minn. From conversations with cancer and climate change researchers to behind-the-scenes glimpses into higher ed decision-making, Kaster's short, engaging interviews introduce listeners to the people behind the ideas.
Inventor-entrepreneur Mark Bergman ’79 talks about his less-than-straightforward path to Gustavus graduate, creating the Handy Paint Pail and founding the paint accessories company, Handy Products, that grew out of it, turning an idea into a viable and successful product, the business side of Handy Products, and philanthropy in his company and life. Click here for a transcript.
Luther Hagen ’88, founder of Infinity Wealth Alliance in Apple Valley, Minn., on why Gustavus and the business major, his experiences (both academic and amusing) there, his career in the financial services industry as first an employee and then an owner, and giving back to his alma mater. Click here for a transcript.
Student athlete, leader, and biology-classics double major Tyra Banks, ’21 on her Liberian background, why she chose Gustavus and added classics to her biology major, her leadership in equity and inclusion on campus, including the Pan-African Student Organization, being Black and African at Gustavus, participating in track and field, and her senior year amid COVID-19.. Click here for a transcript.
Jason Haaheim ’01 talks about how he went from majoring in Music and Physics at Gustavus to performing as principal timpanist of the world-renowned Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York, and the impact of COVID-19 on the institution and its musicians. Click here for a transcript.
Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Life, JoNes VanHecke ’88, reflects on attending Gustavus, embarking on a career in student affairs, the purpose, responsibilities, and rewards of her current position, the qualities that make for a successful dean of students, and the special appeal of her alma mater. Click here for a transcript.
Luanne Bigbear ’91, an educator in Shelton, Washington, recalls her time at Gustavus, where she double-majored in History and Art and Art History, recounts her path from there to high-school teacher (including learning about her birth family along the way), and describes the innovative curricular initiatives she has participated in, among them Native-infused curriculum through a program at the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian. Click here for a transcript.
The Rev. Dr. Matthew Cadwell ’95, on his journey from Scandinavian Studies and Religion major (Phi Beta Kappa) at Gustavus to Vicar-in-Charge at the venerable Old North Church in Boston, the impact of Covid-19 on Old North, his “theological hero,” the English Christian socialist F. D. Maurice, and the history of and his vision for Old North’s congregation. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus graduate and psychological science major Conrad Oddoye ’20 on his Ghanaian origins, his path from Edmonton, Canada, to Gustavus, sports and music in his life, his experience and perspective as a student of African background, composing and recording for the theatre and dance department’s online production of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage, and his position with The Emily Program in Minneapolis.
Dr. Rodney A. Caruthers II, the 2020-21 Bruce Gray Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Religion at Gustavus, discusses his northern/southern family background, his A.M.E pastor mother and the impact of his parents on him, his path from studying architectural design and psychology to seminary to scholar of the composition of ancient Jewish and Christian texts, and his perspective as a Black man on his work and the death of Mr. George Floyd and its aftermath. Click here for a transcript.
Valerie Heider, ’11, on her path from Honors History and Scandinavian Studies at Gustavus to a graduate degree and career in historic preservation, currently with the Minnesota Historical Society, where among the projects she manages is the National Historic Landmark Washburn-Crosby A Mill Complex in Minneapolis. Click here for a transcript.
Hayley Russell, professor of health and exercise science and recipient of the Swenson-Bunn Teaching Award at Gustavus, on her education, research, and teaching in kinesiology and the psychology of sport injury, connecting with faculty colleagues at Gustavus, her love of teaching and role in fostering faculty conversations about improving it, the factors that shape individual responses to sport injury, and the exercise physiology major. Click here for a transcript.
Donald Myers, Gustavus Class of ’83 and Director and Senior Curator of the College’s Hillstrom Museum of Art, talks about his education and career in art, the origins and collections of the Hillstrom Museum, his responsibilities as director, some of the museum’s memorable exhibitions, including two focused on infamous art forger Elmyr de Hory, and why creating and studying art matters so much. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus junior and triple-major Emily Joan Falk '22 (Political Science, Spanish, and Latin American, Latinx, and Caribbean Studies) discusses her social justice activism on and off campus, including her involvement in Indivisible-St. Peter/Greater Mankato, Students for Reproductive Freedom, and the annual student-run Building Bridges conference. Click here for a transcript.
Jeff Dahlseid, Gustavus Class of ’90 and Professor in the Departments of Biology and Chemistry and Biochemistry program at his alma mater, recalls his undergraduate and graduate experiences, and talks about researching messenger RNA and “nonsense-mediated mRNA decay,” collaborating with and mentoring undergraduates in the lab, changes in science education and Gustavus itself, and what the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology program offers. Click here for a transcript.
Mason Bultje ’18 talks about majoring in exercise physiology and playing tennis at Gustavus, assisting Minneapolis children and youth through nonprofit InnerCity Tennis, and his experience as a young Black man both on and off “the Hill.” Click here for a transcript.
Historian Joy Lintelman, Gustavus Class of ’80 and Professor of History at Concordia College – Moorhead, on the life of Mina Anderson (the inspiration for Wilhelm Moberg’s fictional Katrina in his novel The Emigrants and subject of Lintelman’s award-winning study of Swedish immigrant women in the US), researching the now vanished Eastside Flats neighborhood of Minneapolis, and developing an exhibit about Swede Peter Bergstrom in Moorhead, Minnesota. Click here for a transcript.
Charlie Kelley, Gustavus Class of ’75 and founder of the asset management firm Compass Capital, recalls some memorable professors and experiences at Gustavus and talks about his brief and formative stint as a repo man, his career in financial services and decision to start his own firm, and the Gustavus Hong Kong Travel Program for Economics and Management students that he started and, with his wife Emily, leads. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus chemistry professor Brian O’Brien on the origins of his fascination with plants, cheese, and chemistry, his research with students in fluorine and phosphorous chemistry, Perry the Gustavus corpse flower phenom, wondrous botanical Minnesota, and the case for majoring in chemistry at Gustavus. Click here for a transcript.
Ellen Goodwin, Gustavus Class of ’84 and author of Done: How to Work When No One Is Watching, talks about her path from political science and sociology/anthropology student to acclaimed productivity expert, speaker, writer, and coach, how to get things done without wasting time, and (you are reading this correctly) what dive bars have to do with productivity. Click here for a transcript.
Professor Carlos Mejía Suárez of the modern languages, literatures, and cultures department at Gustavus on growing up in the center of oil production in Colombia, his path to professor of Spanish language and Latin American literature, his literary scholarship and fiction writing, his digital humanities teaching and course on masculinities in Latin America and the US, and the approach and opportunities of his department. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus alum Katie Schlangen ’14 on her challenging background and path to Gustavus, living and teaching in Seoul and Hong Kong, working and traveling internationally for a Minnesota-based NGO focused on healthcare, her commitment to health access and policy, and graduate study in global health policy through the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Click here for a transcript.
Professor Marco Cabrera Geserick of the Gustavus history department talks about his family background, his path from psychology major in Costa Rica to PhD student and professor of Latin American history in the U.S., the revisionist findings of his 2019 book The Legacy of the Filibuster War: National Identify and Collective Memory in Central America, and baking baguettes in the time of COVID-19. Click here for a link.
Dr. Laura Triplett of the Gustavus Geology Department and Environmental Studies Program talks about how she became a geologist, her research on rivers and collaboration with students, and how she became involved as a teacher-scientist in actions for climate justice. Click here for a transcript.
The Rev. Dr. Dan Poffenberger, Gustavus Class of ’82 and past chair of the Gustavus Board of Trustees, talks about his unplanned path to the Lutheran ministry, his work as Senior Pastor of Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church in Prior Lake, Minnesota, virtual Sunday services amid a pandemic, church membership past and present, and the compatibility of religion and science. Click here for a transcript.
For this 50th episode, previous podcast guest Kathy Lund Dean of the Department of Economics and Management at Gustavus interviews host Greg Kaster about the origins of the podcast, influences on his love of history, his work as inaugural holder of the James M. McPherson Endowed Professorship in American History at Gustavus, and engaging with the public as a historian. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus Professor of Theatre and Dance Michele Rusinko on how she went from science to dance while never quite leaving science behind, the happenstance that led her to Gustavus, her choreographic process, Positive Psychology, teaching dance, and the liberal-arts wellspring of her artistry. Click here for a transcript.
Recent graduate Katie Aney ’18 on her path to Gustavus and from there to Harvard Medical School, her love of science and tennis, her research into pancreatic cancer, and what her alma mater offers those who choose it as their college. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus alum Joel Johnson,’96, the Sanford Peter Schotten Distinguished Professor and member of the Department of Government and International Affairs at Augustana University, talks about his experiences at Gustavus and then Harvard, why democracy requires an argument for it, defending liberal democracy through literature, and the case for studying political science. Click here for a transcript.
Professor Melissa Lynn of the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Statistics at Gustavus on hating and then loving math, researching sums-of-squares formulas, teaching math and programing, machine learning, and gender inequities and discrimination in mathematics and the sciences. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus Head Football Coach Peter Haugen on his path to coaching, football as a vehicle for bringing diverse people together and promoting growth on and off the field, and the challenges, responsibilities, and rewards of being a college head coach. Click here for a transcript.
Professor Amy Seham of the Gustavus Department of Theatre and Dance talks about researching and performing improv, social justice theatre, directing in an educational setting, the benefits of majoring in theatre, this spring’s play on campus and adjusting its production due to COVID-19. Click here for a transcript.
Professor Anna Versluis of the Gustavus geography department talks about how and why she became a geographer, researching, living in, and rethinking Haiti, southern Minnesota farmers’ attitudes toward changes in farming, the 2019 Gustavus Nobel Conference on climate change, the weekly Reconciliation Circles on campus, innovating her teaching, and the case for majoring in geography at Gustavus. Click here for a transcript.
Richard Aune, Gustavus Class of ’81 and the College’s Associate Vice President and Dean of Admission, on his path to Gustavus and eventually its admission office, the changes and continuities in that office over time, and the crucial, challenging, and rewarding work (now amid a pandemic hammering higher ed) of building a new entering class each year. Click here for a transcript.
Pianist Esther Wang, the Ethel and Edgar F. Johnson Professor of Fine Arts and member of the music department at Gustavus, on her path to music and the piano, performing as a soloist and accompanist, interpretation in music, teaching a course on music and nature, and what is special about the music major at Gustavus. Bonus: A piano interlude. Click here for a transcript.
Sarah Ruble, Professor of Religion at Gustavus, on her love of history, Free Methodist background, book on American Protestant missionaries after World War II, and innovative adult Sunday School video series on Race and Christianity in the United States, as well as white evangelicals’ support for Donald Trump and why learning about religion matters both generally and at Gustavus specifically. Click here for a transcript.
Kathy Lund Dean, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Gustavus, talks about her education and research in management and ethics, ethics and academe, religious discrimination disputes in the workplace, corporate sustainability, and the case for studying economics and management at a liberal arts college. Click here for a transcript.
Historian and alumnus Timothy Thurber ’89 of Virginia Commonwealth University, talks about his research and book on the Republican Party and race in the three decades after World War II (it’s more complicated than we might think from today’s vantage point), his book on and assessment of Hubert Humphrey, his undergraduate education, and the personal rewards and helpful perspectives historical study offers. Click here for a transcript.
Alum Joy Dunna ’20, whose parents came to the United States from Liberia, reflects on her path to Gustavus, her education as a double major in history and gender, women, and sexuality studies, her varied co-curricular activities like Student Senate and the annual Building Bridges Conference, student teaching online in the time of COVID-19, and what makes Gustavus so compelling. Click here for a transcript.
James Peterson, Gustavus Class of ’64, offers his memories and insights (leavened with humor) about his undergraduate experience, career in science (culminating in his position as CEO of the Science Museum of Minnesota), and the challenges, responsibilities, and rewards of serving, unexpectedly, as the 14th president of his alma mater. Click here for a transcript.
Kate Keller, Professor of history and chair of the history department at Gustavus, on becoming a historian, her research and book on French officials’ surveillance of “colonial suspects” in interwar French West Africa and how she came to that topic, her current book project on one of the suspects, and the case for studying history. Click here for a transcript.
Professor Yurie Hong of the Gustavus classics department reflects on her love of classics (and the musical Hamilton), helping students see connections, the origins and nature of her award-winning community activism, and her activism’s relationship to her teaching. Click here for a transcript.
Educator, lawyer, professor of history, award-winning author, and Gustavus graduate William Green ’72 talks about coming to Gustavus from New Orleans as an African American student in 1968, his time at the College, the social and political history of Black Minnesotans in the 19th and early-20th centuries (including the little-known story of enslaved woman Eliza Winston’s emancipation), and how that history informs Black-white relations in Minnesota today. Click here for a transcript.
Steve Kjellgren, Gustavus Class of ‘86 and Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services at the College, on the innovations he and his team, with the input of students, have introduced in the campus Dining Service over the years, bringing national distinction to the dining program and making it an integral part of students’ liberal arts education. You are advised not to listen on an empty stomach. Click here for a transcript.
Mimi Gerstbauer, Professor of Political Science, Raymond and Florence Sponberg Professor of Ethics, and past director of the Peace Studies program at Gustavus, talks about her path to political science and peace studies, her research on peace-building and interstate reconciliation, and the role of contrition in international relations. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus alum Joseph Gaugler ’95, Professor and Robert L. Kane Endowed Chair in Long-Term Care and Aging at the University of Minnesota and Director of the Center on Healthy Aging and Innovation there, on the impact of his Gustavus education in psychology, history, and football; the focus, rewards, and policy implications of his research; accessible and effective long-term care systems; anti-science in the U.S.; and what to look for when choosing a college. Click here for a link.
Professor, podcaster, and Spanglish author Angelique Dwyer of the Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Department at Gustavus talks about her personal story as a “gringa Mexicana,” her education and approach to teaching, her award-winning community-based learning projects, and her own podcast. Click here for a transcript.
Paul Finkelman, President of Gratz College, a distinguished visitor to Gustavus, and the leading historian of slavery and the law, talks about the proslavery U.S. Constitution, Chief Justice John Marshall’s buying and selling of enslaved people, the proslavery jurisprudence of the antebellum Supreme Court, and the present-day monuments conflict. Click here for a link.
Educator Crystal Polski ’04 on why she aspired to be a teacher, her new position aimed at fostering future educators of color for the Minneapolis Public Schools district, what she learned as a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching recipient in Finland, learning standards, and reopening schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for a transcript.
Professor Lisa Heldke of the Gustavus philosophy department on what philosophy entails, her research and teaching about the philosophy of food, and the College’s annual Nobel Conference which she directs and will focus this fall 2020 on Cancer in the Age of Biotechnology. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus graduate Hope Crenshaw ‘04, Executive Director of Teen Health Mississippi, recalls her experience as a young black woman from Mississippi at mostly white Gustavus, and talks about her response to the murder of Mr. George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the mission and impact of Teen Health, and leadership. Click here for a transcript.
Rebecca Taylor Fremo, Professor of English and Director of Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) at Gustavus, and author of Moving this Body, her recently published collection of poems, talks about the power of writing in constructing one’s identity and story, the WAC program, her memoir in progress, and what students gain from English courses. Click here for a transcript.
Thomas Flunker, Director of the Center for Inclusive Excellence (formerly the Diversity Center) at Gustavus, talks about his varied background and how it informs his work around diversity, equity, and inclusion, the Center’s role on campus, the annual Building Bridges Conference organized by Gustavus students, and his personal response to the murder of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus physicist Chuck Niederitter describes the research he and some of his students are conducting into muons (a kind of particle), high altitude research ballooning, the challenges and progress of green energy initiatives on campus, the many doors opened by majoring in physics, and Gustavus’s trip to the moon and back. Click here for a transcript.
Photographer Priscilla Briggs, professor of art and art history at Gustavus, talks about her photographic project in China, her most recent exhibit, “Reading Between the Lines,” her approach to her work, and the importance of art to undergraduate education. Click here for a transcript.
Marine biologist, professor of biology, and Gustavus graduate Nadine Lysiak, ’03, on majoring in biology and history at Gustavus, researching North Atlantic right whales both in the lab and up close at sea, the Shoals Marine Laboratory in Maine, and the rewards of teaching. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus English professor and poet Philip Bryant, Class of ’73, on his path from Chicago’s Southside to Gustavus, the impact of his undergraduate mentor, his experience as a black student on a virtually all-white small campus at the tail end of the long 1960s, the police killing of Mr. George Floyd, and poetry, including three of his own poems. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus student Nathan Baring ’22 discusses Julianna v. United States, a groundbreaking lawsuit in which he and 20 other young people are suing the federal government for its climate-damaging policies in disregard of scientific evidence. Click here for a transcript.
Recently retired CEO of the Children’s Cancer Research Fund and Gustavus trustee John Hallberg, Class of ’79, recalls his undergraduate years and discusses his work and vision as a member of his alma mater’s Board. Click here for a transcript.
Renowned Civil War historian James M. McPherson, Gustavus Class of ’58, reflects on his Gustavus education, his path from there to leading scholar of the war, his civil rights activism as a graduate student in Baltimore, and the searing conflict that preserved the Union and gave it, in Lincoln’s magnificent words, “a new birth of freedom.” Click here for a transcript.
Paschal Kyoore, Professor of French and Director of African Studies at Gustavus, explains the meanings and functions of proverbs and folktales in his native Ghana, and the importance of foreign language study. Featuring also Spider, Guinea Fowl, and Rabbit. Click here for a transcript.
Professor Jennifer Ackil of the Gustavus Department of Psychological Science and an expert in memory talks about remembering and misremembering, memory and trauma among children and mothers, whether women remember better than men, and why studying psychology matters. Click here for a transcript.
Distinguished historian of Scandinavia and Gustavus Professor Emeritus of History and Scandinavian Studies Byron Nordstrom on Sweden’s novel response to the novel coronavirus, the life of Swedish immigrant Swan Turnblad in Minnesota, and learning and teaching at liberal arts colleges. Click here for a transcript.
Dr. Misti Harper, Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Gustavus, discusses the role of “respectability politics” among black women in the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School, the Minnesota context of Mr. George Floyd’s murder by police in Minneapolis 63 years later, and her undergraduate course on musical legend Prince. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus immigration historian Maddalena Marinari, author of the important and timely new book, Unwanted: Italian and Jewish Mobilization against Restrictive Immigration Law, 1882-1965 (2020), on the history of “Italian and Jewish reformers” combating restriction, and her own transatlantic story. Click here for a transcript.
Gustavus chemistry professor and chromatography expert Dwight Stoll on working with students in his highly-regarded campus lab, facilitating their development as individuals and scientists, and enjoying the College’s newly renovated and expanded Nobel Hall for state-of-the-art science research and education in the 21st century. Click here for a transcript.
Political theorist Jill Locke of the Gustavus political science department talks about her critique of “The Lament that Shame Is Dead” in her engaging and provocative book, Democracy and the Death of Shame (2016). Click here for a transcript.
Jeff Jeremiason, professor of chemistry and director of environmental studies at Gustavus, on the science and politics of climate change, researching rising levels of mercury in lakes, rivers, and wetlands with students, and the impressive benefits of majoring in environmental studies. Click here for a transcript.
Eric Vrooman—English professor, award-winning author, and director of the Writing Center at Gustavus—discusses his path to a career in writing, the Writing Center’s role on campus, and teaching creative writing. Click here for a transcript.
Laura Burrack, professor of biology at Gustavus, on her love of microbiology and science, innovative team teaching with a historian, researching with and mentoring biology students at a small liberal arts college, and her students’ impressive accomplishments and career trajectories. Click here for a transcript.
Bryan Messerly, interim director of the Gustavus Center for International and Cultural Education, discusses bringing students abroad home safely during the COVID-19 pandemic and the life-changing potential of study away experiences. Click here for a transcript.
Casey Elledge, religion professor and chair at Gustavus, discusses the influence of his minister uncle and writer aunt on his trajectory, his impressive and fascinating scholarship on the idea of resurrection and Jewish texts informing the New Testament, and teaching religion at a liberal arts college. Click here for a transcript.
Provost and Dean of the College Brenda Kelly talks Gustavus leadership amid COVID-19. The former chemistry professor discusses plans and decisions, stresses and successes, uncertainties and jigsaw puzzles from the College’s transition to online teaching and learning. Click here for a transcript.
In this inaugural episode, Pamela Connors, professor and chair of communication studies at Gustavus, and director of the Gustavus Deliberation and Dialogue Program, speaks about becoming a rhetorician, cultivating civic discourse in a polarized time, and directing a fascinating student-faculty research project on World War II refugees in Minnesota. Click here for a transcript.
How does a liberal arts education equip people to engage with real-world problems? How do science researchers at small, residential colleges work with students to act on the great challenges of our time? Why is it important to talk, listen, and connect with people from different backgrounds? And how do decisions get made at colleges and universities, anyway? Professional lifelong learner and historian Greg Kaster asks these questions and more in Learning for Life @ Gustavus, a new podcast from the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota. Click here for a transcript.
Host and Creator:
Greg Kaster, PhD
James M. and Patricia McPherson Professor of American History
Technical Director/Audio Engineer:
Will Clark '20
Matt Dobosenski '99, Assistant Director of Event Technical Services
JJ Akin '11, Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication
"Jazz it Up" by Wesly Thomas via Artlist.io.
The views expressed on the Learning for Life @ Gustavus podcast are not necessarily those of Gustavus Adolphus College.