English Professor Scott Olsen took his friends and colleagues up in the air for his latest book, “Prairie Sky.”
Travel is not always about the destination, as demonstrated by English professor Scott Olsen’s recently released book, “Prairie Sky.” Rather, it’s about the journey, a theme Olsen consistently explores.
“My books are all about chasing ideas,” Olsen says. “It’s about the process of discovery.”
“Prairie Sky” is about being in the air, from both the pilot and passenger points of view. It’s also about what altitude does to perspective. In the book, Olsen pulls in the expertise of several of his colleagues, many of whom work at the college.
Olsen piloted a Cessna 172 for the journeys and says viewing things from above changes the story.
“It is a completely, radically different sense of the universe,” Olsen says. “A sense of scale changes, a sense of time changes and community changes.”
Dr. Gerry Van Amburg, emeritus professor of biology, helped Olsen search for a wall of trees that was said to have stretched across the United States from Canada to Mexico. Olsen tapped other faculty including English professor Jonathan Steinwand, physics professor Heidi Manning, campus pastor Tim Megorden and religion professor Roy Hammerling.
“Colleges, especially Concordia College as a liberal arts college, have such a range of expertise and viewpoints. The college every single day is a dynamic cross-referencing resource,” Olsen says.
While Olsen enjoyed mining his friends and colleagues for knowledge, he gets great satisfaction hearing their point of view when he takes them into the sky. Olsen says he can’t help but think about the stories behind everything he sees below – even the gridded mile lines that define property boundaries bring him back to the way Thomas Jefferson called for the land to be surveyed before much of the country was divided into states.
“Everything is history and everything is connected,” Olsen says.