Forums to Discuss Energy, Vision, Confessions and Border Control

Three accomplished alumni and one iconic professor fill out the line-up for the Fall 2011 Augustana Thought Leader Forum series, presentations on current events given by subject matter experts from across the globe.

The Thought Leader Forums are open to the public. Tickets can be purchased at

  • "Revolutionizing Energy" featuring Doug Berven '91, vice president of Corporate Affairs, POET, Sioux Falls.
    11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29, at CJ Callaway's Event Center

    Berven joined POET in March 2003 and has served the organization in several roles since then. In his current position as vice president of Corporate Affairs, Berven promotes the corporate objectives of POET, the importance of agriculture and the benefits of ethanol domestically and internationally. He also sits on 12 of POET’s ethanol plant Boards of Directors, and serves as an advisor to several industry organizations, including BIO, ACORE, 25x25, Midwest Governors Association and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels.

    Berven also manages strategic corporate relations for POET; promotes state, regional and national policy objectives for the industry; and is an internationally recognized authority on agriculture, renewable energy and ethanol.
  •  "Eliminating Blindness in our World" featuring Dr. John Berdahl '99, ophthalmologist, Vance Thompson Vision, Sioux Falls.
    11:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 14, at CJ Callaway's Event Center

    Dr. Berdahl specializes in advanced cataract, corneal and glaucoma surgery, in addition to refractive surgery to correct nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. He earned his medical doctorate, graduating with honors from Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minn., and finished his internship at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. He completed ophthalmology residency at Duke University where his published work, research, teaching and care of patients brought him many honors including best resident and national recognition as first place winner of the Resident Writers Award. Dr. Berdahl pursued additional advanced surgical training at the most coveted cornea and glaucoma fellowship in the country at Minnesota Eye Consultants. As a fellow he received the Claes Dohlman Award from Harvard University, which is given to the top cornea fellow in the country.

    A native of Hills, Minn., Dr. Berdahl has published numerous book chapters and peer-reviewed articles and his extensive research has been presented nationally and internationally. His commitment to those in need is demonstrated by his leadership role in EyeCare America (which provides free eye care to underserved) and the numerous surgical mission trips he continues to participate in worldwide.
  • "Confessions of an Augustana College Professor" featuring Dr. Peter Schotten, professor of Government and International Affairs, Augustana College
    Monday, Oct. 24, 2011, at 317 on Rice Park in St. Paul, Minn. Social hour begins at 6 p.m.

    The quintessential Augustana insider, Dr. Schotten came to the College in 1974, having grown up in Seattle where he did his undergraduate work at the University of Washington. There, he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in political science. He later attended Claremont graduate School where, in 1974, he was awarded an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science. He attended graduate school as a Woodrow Wilson scholar and also was an NDEA fellow.

    Arriving at Augustana from the greater Los Angeles area, Dr. Schotten initially was surprised and shocked to discover that the two leading grocery store establishments were called Hinky Dinky and Piggly Wiggly. He survived this ordeal and has since taught in the Department of Government and International Relations. Currently, he also serves as the division chair of Augustana’s Social Science division. His academic interests include constitutional law and political philosophy and he has co-authored two books and numerous scholarly papers within these disciplines. During his teaching career at Augustana, he has held the Stanley Olson Chair of Moral values, the Orin M. Lofthus Distinguished Professorship, the Frederick Kohlmeyer Distinguished Teaching Professorship and the Burlington Northern Excellence in Teaching Award. He has also served as Augustana’s pre-law advisor since his initial appointment.
  • "Disorder on the Border" featuring Dr. Cari Skogberg Eastman '96, independent researcher and writer, Fountain Hills, Ariz..
    11:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 18, at CJ Callaway's Event Center

    Eastman earned her Ph.D. in Communication from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in May of 2008. Her studies focused largely on development communication, earning her a Graduate Interdisciplinary Certificate in Development Studies. In addition, she concentrated on issues of media and civil society – particularly in relation to the immigration debate. Her dissertation research elaborated on those topics, seeking to determine the ways in which the relationship between media and civil society along the Arizona/Sonora border influences both civic participation and public opinion about immigration-related issues.

    In 2008, she earned a Center of the American West Thompson Award for Western American Writing (honorable mention) for her special topic submission on immigration. Her professional publications include two co-authored journal articles and a co-authored book chapter. Additionally, she has penned nonfiction articles for North Dakota Horizons Magazine, the Lutheran Magazine (online edition), and Beautiful Fork Magazine, as well as numerous articles for local and regional newspapers. She served as associate editor of the inaugural edition of The Global Studies Journal.

    Prior to beginning her Ph.D. studies, she taught Spanish for five years in the Spearfish, S.D., public school system, one year at Black Hills State University in Spearfish, and two years at Augustana. She received the Augustana Student Association Faculty Recognition Award in 2003 and was named Spearfish School District Teacher of the Year in 2002. She earned her Master’s Degree in the Teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain where she was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar. In addition, she has earned the DELE Superior diploma in Spanish and is a National Board Certified Teacher (World Languages Other Than English). Eastman has presented academic papers in Sweden and Australia as well as numerous conferences in the United States. Eastman was a recent board and program committee member for the national Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Division for Global Mission. She has traveled extensively and enjoys bicycling, hiking and exploring new destinations with her husband Scott and daughters Abigail and Mataya.

Reserve tickets at or call 605.274.4404 for more information. Reserved tickets for the Twin Cities evening event are $25 and include heavy appetizers. (A $3.50 fee for U.S. mailed orders only.) Reserved tickets for Sioux Falls events are $20 ($25 at the door) and include lunch.

Kelly Sprecher
Director of Communications & Media Relations