Chris Stedman is an atheist and humanist community organizer, interfaith activist, and writer living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is the author of Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious, “an intimate and deeply affecting portrait… [that] proves [he is] an activist in the truest sense and one to watch” (Booklist, Starred Review). Chris is also the founding executive director of the Humanist Center of Minnesota, a project through which he and a group of researchers at the University of Minnesota are studying the beliefs, practices, and community involvement of the religiously unaffiliated.
Formerly the founding executive director of the Yale Humanist Community and a fellow at Yale University, he also worked as a humanist chaplain at Harvard University and a content developer for the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago, Illinois. He currently serves as a fellow at the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship and at the Christensen Center for Vocation, both at Augsburg University. Chris holds a summa cum laude B.A. in Religion from Augsburg University (with minors in English and Social Welfare) and an M.A. in Religion from Meadville Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago, for which he was awarded the Billings Prize for Most Outstanding Scholastic Achievement.
LoM hosts Christian Elliott and Mikaylo Kelly spoke with Chris Stedman at the studios of WVIK as part of his visit to Augustana’s campus for Symposium Day this month.
For the rest of this school year, our podcast team will be releasing two episodes each month. One will be a standard interview with a professor, college alumna or alumnus, or visiting speaker like listeners are accustomed to, and the other will be a special episode unlike the content we’ve produced in the past. This episode is the first of these “bonus” episodes showcasing life on campus and in the community!
Two Fridays, two strikes
On September 20th, 2019 7.6 million people took to the streets on all seven continents to strike for climate action in the biggest climate mobilization in history. Youth across the world were inspired to action by 16 year old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. On the campus of Augustana College, senior students Hunter Ridley and Robert Burke organized a local strike as part of the national movement with the help of Dr. Jennifer Burnham.
The event drew hundreds of students, as well as representatives from local news networks. Surrounded by a crowd holding signs reading “Fight for Augie’s Future,” “Augie Strikes Back,” and “Why are we Studying for A Future we don’t have” Students, faculty, and children spoke passionately and recited poetry while calling the college administration to take definitive climate action.
Two weeks after Augie’s strike, a few of our members traveled to Iowa City to see Greta Thunberg, the young activist who started it all. We were able to record her address to the thousands who gathered at the intersection of Dubuque and Iowa street in downtown Iowa City on October 4th, 2019.
We’re thrilled to provide recordings of both events as this month’s bonus episode of Lives of the Mind!
Every week since the strikes, Augustana students and faculty have met to brainstorm ideas in a group informally called Augie Climate Action. To get involved, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month, hosts Christian Elliott and Ethan Conley-Keck talk with Dr. Amanda Tiffany (’04) as part of a new series on Augustana College alumni!
An Augie alumna, Dr. Tiffany has worked all over the world, from investigating HIV/AIDS in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the CDC to conducting Ebola surveillance for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
The 2019-20 school year begins next week, and that means that Lives of the Mind will be back shortly with a new season!
This upcoming season really began in May, when we recorded some fantastic interviews we’re excited to share with you! Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come:
Prepare yourself to learn about a diverse range of topics–everything from paleontology to the Oscars. Our first episode will feature Dr. Amanda Tiffany, an alumna from Augustana College who works with the CDC. Another interviewee, Dr. Rebecca Heick, studies public health policy, and will discuss her various careers in health and disaster fields. We will also hear from Dr. Kelsey Arkle who works as a conservation paleobiologist. These women are just a few of the exciting episodes we have ready, and there will be more to come!
Please let us know if there is anyone you want to hear from or any topics that you want us to investigate. New episodes will begin streaming soon!
This new website has been a long time coming. When Ethan Conley-Keck and I got together to plan the future of Lives of the Mind (LoM) after Dr. Zargar’s departure and the podcast’s separation from the honors program, we hoped to someday create a website as a centralized place for all things LoM. There were a lot of hoops to jump through–the student organization formation process, recruiting new members and a faculty adviser, securing a budget, getting an email address, etc. Things really started to gain traction once we contacted WVIK, Quad Cities NPR, for help. Jared Johnson‘s assistance has been invaluable, and episode production quality has soared with access to the Doris and Victor Day Broadcast Center’s studios.
The future of LoM
As we near the end of the 2018-19 school year, Lives of the Mind will go on a summer hiatus making the close of our first “season,” which ran (irregularly) through the structural/bureaucratic chaos of 2017-19. This fall we plan to start releasing episodes bi-monthly. Season 2 will run from September of 2019 to May of 2020. We already have a number of great interviews recorded and can’t wait to share them with our listeners! I’m so excited for what’s to come, especially taking on the role of managing this new website and leaving behind the old one. Look out not only for new podcast episodes, but also blog posts and other content made possible by the freedom of this new site!
Also make sure to check out this month’s episode released today, a fantastic interview I recorded recently with Dame Frances Cairncross, a prolific British journalist!
The fine print
We’ve switched podcast hosts from SoundCloud to Blubrry Podcasting, which means we have a new RSS feed. To continue getting the latest content, you’ll need to re-subscribe to the podcast in whatever way works for you. We’re on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and (soon) Spotify and TuneIn. Head over to the Subscribe page for details on how to stay up to date.
Dame Frances Cairncross, former columnist for The Guardian, senior editor at The Economist, and head of Exeter College at Oxford University, discusses her long career and the recent review of high quality journalism she produced for the British government in February of 2019, the Cairncross Report.
Dr. Leech is an environmental historian who has lately shifted his focus towards mining history. In Butte, Montana a particularly interesting vein of mining history is uncovered. Maria Wood and Charles Nawara interview Dr. Leech about his work on the effects of open pit mining in the community of Butte, as well as the repercussions of safety magazines issue by the Anaconda Mining Company to its workers.
Dr. Christopher Strunk, an associate Professor of Geography at Augustana College, discusses his graduate school research on Bolivian refugee incorporation in Washington D.C. and more recent work with refugee community gardeners in Rock Island, Illinois.
Dr. Adam Kaul, an associate Professor of Anthropology at Augustana College, delves into the collaborative work on his newest publication: Leisure and Death. Exploring the way dark tourism has evolved, specifically in Ireland at the cliffs of Moher, Kaul analyzes how the intersection of leisure activities and death has shaped the surrounding area and even his own ideas about dying.