News Academics

Local Lives Inquiry Seminar

New Inquiry Seminar provides a unique opportunity for Concordia students to engage in the Fargo-Moorhead community.

The Fargo-Moorhead community has a rich history stemming from its Scandinavian heritage and growing diversity in the ever-changing community. The students of Local Lives are diving into the history and culture of the F-M area head on through engaged curiosity and active learning.

Local Lives, taught by Dr. Karla Knutson, challenges students to delve into the history of the Fargo-Moorhead area and its citizens. Throughout the course, students will create a profile of a member of the community and share their story of living in the F-M area. Ranging from young adults beginning their careers to retired contributors to the community, students are engaging in a wide variety of backgrounds. 

Emphasizing the goals of integrative learning, Local Lives aims to engage students in the community on a deeper level. Students will be researching the F-M area through personal narratives, community events and interviews with local citizens. 

Some profiles feature the lives of people from campus, including Dr. Dawn Duncan, Bucky Burgau and Dr. Edward Antonio to name a few. Extending off campus, profiles include Tim Kasper of The Blenders, Dr. John Morgan, a agronomy professor at North Dakota State University, and Jake Brandt, a University of North Dakota hockey television commentator.

Claire Mohr ’22 is interviewing Jan Syverson, a local comedian. As Mohr engages with Syverson and the community, she is quickly learning more about what the F-M area has to offer.

“I've learned that there's always something to do in Fargo or Moorhead,” Mohr said. “Through this process so far, I've discovered open mic comedy nights at the Red Raven. In my hometown, the only open mic night was at the local music store, so having a regular comedy night is super cool. There's a lot of opportunity in this area, which is really neat.”

While attending open mic nights and other events in the area, students are having fun and engaging with their community. By understanding their neighbors on a deeper level, students are embodying the goals of integrative learning. Through active civic engagement, students are taking their learning opportunities outside the classroom.

While learning about events within the community, Knutson appreciates the mutual engagement between Cobbers and the citizens of the community. 

“I hope our speakers and guests feel valued and invited, that they see the gratitude we have for them being willing to lend their expertise and their time to introduce students to the various features of the community that they work in,” Knutson said. “And I hope we’ll all learn a lot about each other and develop deeper empathy and understanding, along with better ways of communicating and helping each other.” 

As students increase their understanding of the rich, complex community of the F-M area, Knutson hopes students are encouraged to become more involved civic participants. 

“I want students to meet the community, to think about who lives here, and to realize that Concordia is one neighbor in this larger metro area,” Knutson said. “I hope they see how living in a community will be an important part of their lives as citizens in any community that they move to one day.” 

In becoming a part of the community, integrative learning seeks to enhance personal experiences through hands-on engagement. By introducing integrative learning through a first-year inquiry seminar, students can understand the value in the goals of learning at Concordia in preparing for them for life after graduation. 

Local Lives will conclude at the end of the semester, where students will present in class a short summary of the deep research they conducted throughout the semester with their local life.


Photo: Jan Syverson