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The final finals week

Posted in Matt Hansen on April 30th, 2013 by mhansen1 – Be the first to comment

I’ll never forget my first days as a Concordia student.  Having been very active in the online discussions with other future Cobbers, I was very excited to begin my time as a student.  For me, there was the general anticipation of relocating from the Sunny South to the Upper Middle West, along with a very loud and proud giddiness to attend a school in the Great North with a corncob mascot.  It certainly seemed exotic at my small Tennessee high school (Although, it is important to note that there is a Concordia freshman from my school in Tennessee–small world!)

But here I am, four years later.  So much has changed, yet much is the same.  I have taken many more classes, written many more papers, eaten many more DS meals.

My Concordia journey was nothing like I anticipated.  Despite the differences — perhaps because of the differences — it has been the most important experience of my life.  Here’s to a fun-filled, final, finals week!

The benefits of a sociology major

Posted in Matt Hansen on March 18th, 2013 by mhansen1 – 2 Comments

I was asked to be one of two students representing the Department of Sociology at this past weekend’s Cobber Celebration, a Saturday event for accepted students.  In the past years, I have represented my other major (political science) at these events, but I was excited to see how the benefits of a major in sociology would be presented to prospective students.

Dr. Natalie Peluso, a faculty member in the department, led the presentation which primarily focused on the vocational benefits of the major: critical thinking and writing skills, deep reading ability, travel experiences, and unique co-op/ independent study opportunities.  I was asked there primarily because of my experience with the last sociology major perk: co-op experiences.

As you likely know from reading this blog, I have an internship with the Downtown Community Partnership.  That internship also counts as a full semester course in sociology as a co-op credit, with Dr. Andrew Lindner supervising.  More importantly, my interest in downtowns and my role with this organization would not have occurred without my major in sociology.

This time last year I took a class called Urban Communities taught by Dr. Matthew Lindholm.  The final assignment for the course required students to get out in the community and dive into an issue affecting city life.  I ended up having an awesome project assignment (Fargo’s permanent flood protection) and in the process met a City Commissioner and learned a lot about the comprehensive plan for the city.  This connection, along with an assignment I had concurrently in my independent study, planted a seed of interest in Fargo’s downtown.  That interest and acquired knowledge played a big role in my interview for the Downtown Community Partnership.

The point: You may have no idea what you want to do (like me) but by immersing yourself in interesting course projects, you might eventually get an internship out of it!

Here’s to majoring in sociology!

Occupy Lorentzsen

Posted in Matt Hansen on March 15th, 2013 by mhansen1 – Be the first to comment

Earlier this week I joined about 70 fellow students in demanding for on campus sustainability changes.  For the past several weeks, several students and myself have been organizing an effort known as Occupy Lorentzsen.  Our goal: to collectively show the college administration — President Craft, Provost Krejci, and the Board of Regents — that Concordia students are quite serious about the college’s need to have a commitment to the environment and, at the same time, that we are fully capable of organizing to call for change.  Needless to say, it was a success.

It's a Great Day to Be a Cobber!

It’s a Great Day to Be a Cobber!

Our voices were heard by the college president and we heard his commitment to address our concerns in a formal way.  It is a very small yet needed first step in moving our campus forward.  All across the country, college students are fired up and committing themselves to sustainability efforts on campus, doing very similar events as Occupy.  At Concordia, as I wrap up my senior year, I am very happy with the direction the campus is moving.  We have a new President’s Sustainability Council, a permanent Sustainability Coordinator, and a very active Student Environmental Alliance.  Despite these great achievements, there are numerous concerns over the college’s investments in natural resources.  But conversations over these concerns are happening.  Best of all, our president is willing to hear our concerns.

Many colleges have very sustainable practices in place from top down: administrative decisions to, say, compost or fuel campus vehicles differently.  While that is slowly happening at Concordia, we have a much greater asset: engaged and committed students.  We’re not simply being handed things.  We’re learning and conversing and, sometimes, occupying to move this campus forward.

Indeed, it is a great day to be a Cobber!

I’m heading to Portland!

Posted in Matt Hansen on February 12th, 2013 by mhansen1 – 5 Comments

In just under two weeks, I will be hopping on a train headed West. I’m headed on a Concordia High-Impact Leadership Trip to Portland, Oregon, for a fun-filled week of sustainable living learning

Cobbers learning about mountaintop removal practices in the heart of Eastern Kentucky

Cobbers learning about mountaintop removal practices in the heart of Eastern Kentucky

Pioneered by  2012 graduate Nathaniel Cook, these trips are designed to get students off campus and directly involved with the planning and execution of meaningful and impactful trips. Nathaniel turned a good idea for a Spring Break trip into reality last year as 15 students (including myself) travelled down to the rural mountains of Eastern Kentucky, exploring issues related to the environment and controversial mountaintop removal mining techniques, as well as campus sustainability solutions at Berea College (a place worth Googling).

The trip was one of the best experiences I’ve had at Concordia. We learned about the urgency for alternative energy, seeing the effects of resource mining in one of the poorest parts of the country, as well as the importance of simply bearing witness and telling stories. The places we visited, and the people we met will be a part of us long after our short week in the South.

For Portland, the trip’s aim is a little different, but equally important. In this case, the purpose of the trip is to showcase all of the good things people are doing for the environment and to perhaps learn something to take back to campus.

I couldn’t be more excited, and I look forward to spreading the news upon return.

Becoming a vegetarian

Posted in Matt Hansen on February 9th, 2013 by mhansen1 – 1 Comment

After making fun of vegetarians my entire life, I have finally joined the pack — committed to meatless eating for as long as possible.  It comes as a rather large surprise not just to my friends but to myself that I finally decided to become a vegetarian, but after talking it over with friends and family, and thinking of the implications of a more plant-based diet (better skin, less cruel to animals, more sustainable) then I committed, and what a choice that was!

The cart of a blossoming vegetarian.

The cart of a blossoming vegetarian.

First, it should definitely be noted that I am a meat and potatoes kind of guy.  Many of my food pictures posted on this blog feature chicken, or steak, or some sort of delicious beef dish.  So I thought it would be a horrible transition, with several, serious cravings for meat.  Luckily, however, that has not happened, and here’s why.

Concordia’s fine folks in Dining Services offer many vegetarian counterparts to popular meat dishes (lasagna, stroganoff, casserole, and even meat loaf!).  So that’s been nice.  I also have been being more responsible in foods I purchase for home cooking: instead of ground beef, I buy beans; instead of meaty sauce, I add some extra vegetables.  It’s great.  I also just go to the Indian restaurant all the time.

Going meatless is a great decision.  It’s much less about the whole animal welfare thing (although, of course, that is a big deal too) but instead much more about living a sustainable, energy-filled life.