Minneapolis-St. Paul Syllabus

ASHE 2023 Syllabus for Learning about Purpose, Politics, and Practices in the Homeland of the Dakhóta Oyáte / Dakota people (colonially known as Minneapolis-St. Paul)

Created by the Local Community and Engagement Committee (LCEC)


Invitation to ASHE community

As we gather on the traditional homelands of the Dakota/Lakota/Nakota and Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), we have a responsibility to understand this place and space in relation to higher education and our respective roles as scholars, practitioners, leaders, and of course, as visitors.

Part of our task is understanding that Minneapolis is a space and place where Indigenous, Black, and People of Color have been creating community and coalition for a long time. Pivotal events have taken place within the city, such as it being the birthplace of the American Indian Movement (AIM), all of which we can and should learn more about as a foundation for understanding contemporary in/justices and in/equities.

Indeed, this year’s ASHE theme encourages us to look seriously at the ways that higher education can improve current in/justice and in/equities by analyzing purpose, politics, and practices. The purpose of the syllabus, like previous LCEC syllabi, is to help ASHE members engage in place-based learning to better understand the historical, social, political, and economic forces that shape any place we visit. We hope that this syllabus along with all of the activities that LCEC has planned help you learn about and meaningfully engage with Minneapolis-St. Paul. Specifically, the LCEC encourages all attendees to participate in a few of the events we are hosting:

  • On Wednesday, November 15, 9:45 to 11:00 am, in partnership with ASHE Pre-Conferences, we will host a policy-focused session titled, The Paradox of Minnesota Nice: Progression and Regression in the State’s Past and Present. Here, a panel of local Twin Cities leaders will discuss the existing disparities among local communities of color and the structural forces at play across sectors. These local leaders will advise how education research community members can support rather than cause harm through research efforts.
  • On Thursday, November 16, 2:00 to 3:15pm, we will host an ASHE Presidential Session titled Finding Reconciliation and Reclamation for Indigenous Peoples in Higher Education. Here, a panel of Indigenous scholars will present on reclamation movements and reconciliation efforts between Indigenous communities and university relations.
  • And finally, on Thursday, November 16, 3:30-5:30 we will host the “Why Treaties Matter: Discussion and Reception” to explore relationships between Dakota and Ojibwe Indian Nations and the U.S. government in this place we now call Minnesota. Please consider visiting to learn, through 20 banners featuring text and images, how treaties affected the lands and lifeways of the indigenous peoples of this place, and why these binding agreements between nations still matter today. The exhibit will be open Wednesday and Thursday. Thank you to the Minnesota Humanities Center and the University of Minnesota for their support of these events.

In light of this year’s theme of Purposes, Politics, and Practices, the ASHE Local and Community Engagement Committee (LCEC) encourages these questions as guidance:

  • How do we through our research and practice recognize and begin to rectify historical and continued harms?
  • And towards possibility, how do we learn with and give back to the communities of Central Minnesota, living rather than simply extolling values of reciprocity and justice?

Wrestling with these questions can be difficult. There are few simple answers. Building from the work of our colleagues in prior LCECs, however, we offer this syllabus as a place to begin the process of reflection and action through learning about place-based epistemologies and our host communities.

The syllabus is organized into seven parts:

  1. Access (UnStatement): The Local Engagement & Community Engagement sub-committee is honored to have spent time learning and engaging from the work of colleagues whose expertise and experience shine a light on accessibility, disability justice, and the possibility of coalitional work. Please take some time to review the following guidance which can help all of us to reorient ways of thinking about, doing, and advocating for access while at ASHE and always.
  2. Land Acknowledgement: We offer a Land Acknowledgment to orient all of us to the place which we will be visiting.
  3. Purposes: This section outlines some of the historical events that define the purposes of education in the state of Minnesota (and more generally).
  4. Politics: This section offers a brief overview of how politics and education intersect in Minnesota and in other places.
  5. Practices: This section is a collection of individual, organizational, and collective practices to advance justice in and outside the academy. Many of these ideas are drawn from communities that are Indigenous or local to Minnesota.
  6. Epilogue: This section is our committee's reflections on this work and the future of it.
  7. Additional Learning: This section contains a variety of additional resources for learning about Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Contributors List

A special thank you to the members of the ASHE Local & Community Engagement Committee for their contributions to this committee and co-creation of this syllabus.

  • Dr. Jamaica DelMar, University of Arizona, Co-Chair
  • Dr. Jameson Lopez, University of Arizona, Co-Chair
  • Dr. Heather Haeger, University of Arizona*
  • Brenda Lee Anderson, University of Arizona
  • Roman Christiaens, University of Arizona*
  • Dr. Stevie R. Lee, University of Denver*
  • Dr. Brittany Anderson, American Indian Science & Engineering Society*
  • Dr. Tiffany Smith, American Indian Science & Engineering Society
  • Tabatha Cruz, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities*
  • Dr. Orkideh Mohajeri, West Chester University*
  • Travis Olson, Michigan State University*

*Served on syllabus sub-committee