171 Augustana Students Study Abroad for J-Term 2017

Augustana students study abroad in Norway.

Student participants in the "Special Education in Norway" J-Term course led by Dr. Matt Johnson. (Photo courtesy Katelyn Derby.)


For the month of January, the world has been Katelyn Derby's classroom. 

That's because Derby, a special education major from from Rosemont, Minnesota, is spending the month in Norway as part of an Augustana J-term course titled "Special Education in Norway" led by Dr. Matt Johnson.

Through the course, Derby and other participants are spending time learning about Norway's approach to special education. Among the stops, AU students visited Peder Morset folkehøgskole, a school in Selbu, Norway.

"This is a school that promotes full inclusion for students with and without special needs. This is considered a transitional school, as individuals may go here after high school or to help decide what career path they are passionate about. All students are immersed together in their classes and activities, and I noticed right away that there was no division between students of diversity. I decided to visit this school because of its inclusive pedagogy and opportunities for experiential learning," Derby wrote on her blog. "Each student shines in their own way, and the school does an excellent job of supporting them. The students here have also embraced us with open arms, quite literally. I have received an abundance of hugs and shared lots of laughs with people from around the world."

AU junior and Chicago native Eliana Rivera is another member of the course. Rivera also wrote about the journey on her blog, calling it a "once in a lifetime experience."

"It was never in the cards for me to study abroad, let alone to Norway.  I knew that if I did not seize the opportunity to travel abroad, I would regret it ... in the short weeks that I have been [here] I have learned countless lessons about myself."

— Eliana Rivera

Elsewhere in Europe, members of the Augustana Choir are touring Germany and Italy through a course titled "Living Reformation: the context, calling, and contributions of Martin Luther, JS Bach, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and St. Francis" led by Campus Pastor Dr. Paul Rohde and Choir Director Dr. Paul Nesheim. See photos and video of the Choir's tour

From Norway to India, Guatemala, Ecuador, Germany, Italy and beyond, 171 Augustana students are spending the month of January studying the histories, economies, languages and cultures of countries around the globe.

These real-world courses are part of Augustana’s January Interim — dubbed J-Term — a four-week session designed for curricular exploration and enrichment. The session gives students the opportunity to study abroad and partake in special one-time topic courses. The students will complete their studies through the Upper Midwest Association for Intercultural Education (UMAIE), various Augustana programs and independent studies.

January 2017 Augustana study away programs led by AU faculty members:

  • "Dharma: Life, Religion and Music in Contemporary India," led by Dr. Sandra Looney (English) and Dr. John Pennington (Music)
  • "The Tropical Ecology of Guatemala and Belize," led by Dr. Craig Spencer (biology) and Dr. David O'Hara (philosophy)
  • "Exploring Sport and Physical Activity in Norway," led by Dr. Sherry Barkley (exercise science)
  • "From the Gulf Coast to the Florida Keys: Introduction to Marine Biology," led by Dr. Cecelia Miles (biology) and Dr. Lisa Baye (biology)
  • "Potsdam Independent Study," led by Dr. Stephan Lhotzky (modern foreign languages)
  • "Special Education in Norway (SPED 280)," led by Dr. Matt Johnson (education) 
  • "Living Reformation: the Context, Calling, and Contributions of Martin Luther, JS Bach, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and St. Francis (in Germany and Italy)," led by Dr. Paul Rohde (campus pastor) and Dr. Paul Nesheim (music)
  • "Leadership in Professional Nursing in Ecuador (Nursing 451)," led by Dr. Patricia Waltman (nursing)
  • "Leadership in Professional Nursing in Norway (Nursing 451)," led by Dr. Pam Schroeder (nursing)

January 2017 UMAIE Courses taught by Augustana Faculty

  • "Arab and Jewish Influence in Spain and Morocco," led by Professor Sam Ogdie (modern foreign languages)
  • "Eastern Europe: Cultural Trauma, Communications and the Camera," led by Dr. Anna Reich (art) and Dr. Tasha Dunn (communication studies)


Kelly Sprecher
Director of Media Relations
605.274.5526