Paul C. Pribbenow

Paul C. Pribbenow, Ph.D., is the 10th president of Augsburg University. Since joining Augsburg in 2006, Pribbenow has enhanced the university’s role as an active community partner in its urban setting. By identifying and embracing initiatives that mutually benefit Augsburg and its neighbors, the university has achieved national recognition for its excellence in service learning and experiential education, including the 2010 Presidential Award for Community Service, the highest honor possible for service work. Pribbenow serves on the national boards of the Coalition for Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), Campus Compact, and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). He is also active in the Anchor Institutions Task Force, and chairs both the Cedar-Riverside Partnership and the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership in the Twin Cities. Pribbenow holds a bachelor of arts degree from Luther College (Iowa), and a master’s degree and doctorate in social ethics from the University of Chicago.

Books by Paul C. Pribbenow:

Radical Roots
How One Professor Changed a University's Legacy

Radical Roots: How One Professor Changed a University's Legacy tells the story of Joel Torstenson, a sociology professor at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In the 1960s, Torstenson challenged his university to embrace its urban setting and to design its curricular, co-curricular, and community engagement programs to advance its mission of “Education for service.” The compelling story of Torstenson’s legacy at Augsburg over the past 60 years offers lessons for colleges and universities across the country committed to democratic engagement in their work at the intersections of mission and place.

Augsburg University's saga as an urban settlement has not always been embraced by the university. Though location and place are central to the university’s identity, it is not sufficient to explain the integrative power of the university’s character. For that purpose, it is critical that place be understood through the lens of Augsburg’s academic mission and work. This integrated view of place and mission required a new way of imagining the university’s core work of educating students.

The purpose of this book is two-fold. The first is to document and celebrate the legacy of Professor Joel Torstenson, and to understand the impact of this legacy’s inception, evolution, and current manifestations and impact at Augsburg and in the wider world. Professor Torstenson cared deeply about the public purpose of higher education, and Torstenson’s model for what this public purpose might look like prompted massive transformation in Augsburg University’s trajectory. The resulting experiments in education and commitment to the city flowered into a legacy that has spurred Augsburg University to create an innovative model for 21st Century education. This model has impacted everything from student learning and community life, to teaching and curricular structure, to the public mission of the institution and its presence in the city and world. Torstenson’s creative—and even radical—work in the 1960s and '70s has been carried through the decades by continued innovation in teaching and learning based in experiential education, and a commitment to place and community building. This legacy has simultaneously advanced the public purpose and mission of the University.

Secondly, this book shares what are some of the lessons learned from fifty years of innovation following Torstenson’s vision, with the hope that these lessons might serve the broader community of colleges, universities, faculty, staff, and students engaged in similar pursuits. Augsburg’s innovative experiential education, place-based community engagement, and public and anchor institution work has been and will continue to be a model for other institutions. We believe that Torstenson’s legacy, and the lessons learned through the years of its evolution, has lessons to teach and models to follow for our sibling institutions across the United States.

The volume includes discussion prompts and questions after each section. There is also a companion website ( that includes additional resources related to the volume's themes.

Perfect for course such as: Higher Education and Democracy in the United States; Principles of Experiential Education; Place Matters: Higher Education and Community Engagement; Universities as Anchor Institutions in their Communities; Introduction to Citizen Professionalism: Leading in the 21st Century; Public Work, Social Responsibility, and Vocation in a World of Extremes; Accompaniment: Developing Democratic Skills and Fostering Healing with Communities; Curricular Innovations in Higher Education; and Principles of Higher Education Pedagogy

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