Category Archives: Season 2

2019-20 Academic Year

Searching for Freedom from the Prison Industrial Complex- Dr. Yusef Salaam

In this month’s episode, student guest hosts Imani Muhammad and Tavian Cervantez sit down with a heroic figure, Dr. Yusef Salaam.

Dr. Salaam visited Augustana’s campus on March 7th in commemoration of the Black Power Symposium organized in 1969 by students in Augustana’s Afro-American Society, which currently is called the Black Student Union.

Dr. Salaam is a member of the “Exonerated Five,” a group of Black and Latino teens falsely charged and subsequently convicted of a brutal attack and rape in 1989 in New York City’s Central Park. After six years and eight months in prison, Dr. Salaam was exonerated. His experience led him to advocate for criminal justice reform, earn a doctorate and receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from former President Barack Obama.

Dr. Salaam uses his platform as one of the famed
“Exonerated Five” to speak out against the prison industrial complex in hopes for a more just
society. Our interview covers the spiritual roots of Dr. Salaam’s powerful message and contextualizes
religious doctrine through contemporary problems such as racism, tribalism, and personal struggle.

A Life of Theatre – Dr. Corinne Johnson

Corrine Johnson

In this month’s episode, LoM hosts Christian Elliott and Isabel Dawson sit down with Dr. Corinne (Cory) Johnson, a Professor in the Theatre Department at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.

In the interview, Dr. Johnson shares anecdotes from her long career as a theatre actor and director. She has worked for the Minnesota Festival Theatre, Old Creamery Theatre, and Webbed Foot Theatre in New York City. She got into comedy working for Dudley Riggs’ Brave New Workshop, an improv and sketch comedy theatre in Minneapolis and in the touring company of Second City, whose sketch comedy has been compared to Saturday Night Live. She has also made her mark on the local theatre community, working with the QC Theatre Workshop and Circa ‘21 Dinner Playhouse. In 2017, she was awarded the Gold Medallion Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, considered the most prestigious award for theatre education.

We’re thrilled to share what we hope will be the first of many podcast episodes featuring professors and other thinkers and do-ers from the Quad Cities area!

Hip Hop Ethnography – Dr. Corey Miles

Corey J. Miles

In this month’s episode, LoM hosts Vanessa Dominguez and Ethan Conley-Keck sit down with Dr. Corey J. Miles, former Diversity Fellow at Augustana College and current Assistant Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies at Morgan State University in Baltimore.

The interview covers Dr. Miles’s research, a sociological ethnography of rural black American hip hop. Freestyle hip hop, Miles shows, is a diverse and inclusive genre (or more accurately, “culture”) that allows artists to depict the black experience free from the constraints of “white” English language. Miles discusses the relationship between hip hop (socially constructed as “black music”) and over policing and mass incarceration, the issue of authenticity for artists, and hip hop’s “democratic” and liberatory power.

Navigating Queer Identity – Further Reading

Want to learn more about the complexities of navigating queer identity discussed in Tavian and Isabel’s podcast episode? Here’s a complete list of the sources they mentioned:

#BlackSkinWhiteSin: For Those Still Haunted by The Sheets (Why the Counter-Narrative Matters), The Feminist Wire article on purity in the black church

Your Sex is Not Radical, article on identity/sexuality disjunctures

Goldberg, Jonathan. “Discovering America.” Sodometries: Renaissance Texts, Modern Sexualities, Fordham University Press, 2010, pp. 179–222.

Jordan, Mark D. “The Care of Sodomites.” The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology, The University of Chicago, 1997, pp. 92–113.

Jordan, Mark D. “A Prelude After Nietzsche: The Responsibilities of a History of Sodomy.” The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology, The University of Chicago Press, 1997.

Lorde, Audre. “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, The Crossing Press, 1984, pp. 53–59.

Townes, Emelie M. “Vanishing into Limbo: The Moral Dilemma of Identity as Property and Commodity .” Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil, Palgrave MacMillan, 2006, pp. 29–55.

Navigating Queer Identity – Bonus Episode

In this special bonus episode, student hosts Tavian Cervantez and Julia Harris discuss the complexities of queer identity through the lenses of poetry and gender and sexuality theory. Tavian and Julia apply theory to the societal expectations and stereotypes queer young people face every day. This episode also features an in-depth interview with fellow Augustana student Mikaylo Kelly about their lived experience as a person who is non-binary.

This podcast episode was produced as a class project for Dr. Michelle Wolff’s Sexual Ethics course through the Lives of the Mind Augustana Podcast Network initiative.

As of the 2019-20 academic year, Lives of the Mind became an Augie-focused podcasting network. As an established podcast, we’re happy to provide the infrastructure for Augie students and faculty to use this popular medium to express themselves and share knowledge with the greater college and Quad Cities communities. Have a great idea? Apply now!

From FYI to Foreign Service – Augie Alumna Melinda Pavek

Melinda Pavek

In this month’s episode, LoM hosts Christian Elliott and Charlie Nawara sit down with Augustana alumna Melinda Pavek (’92) at the studios of WVIK, Quad Cities NPR. Since graduating, Melinda has worked in U.S. embassies across the world with the U.S. Department of State. Currently, she’s the Director of Science, Innovation, and Development at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. The episode covers the value of a liberal arts education, the nature of U.S.-Japan relations, and why it’s okay if you don’t pass your exams on the first try!

Reclaiming ‘Faitheism’ – Chris Stedman

Chris Stedman with hosts Christian Elliott and Mikaylo Kelly
Chris Stedman with hosts Christian Elliott and Mikaylo Kelly

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.

Augie Strikes for Climate Action – Bonus Episode

Bonus episode?

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

Chasing Epidemics – Augie Alumna Dr. Amanda Tiffany

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.

Learn more about Dr. Tiffany’s work.