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Students engage locally and globally

There is a transformation occurring on campus as students are more often looking outward, beyond parochial concerns, to engage the world both locally and globally.

Back in 1967 when he was PLU’s registrar, Chuck Nelson was aware that the campus, even then affectionately known as the “Lute Dome,” with its historic brick buildings and majestic evergreen trees, was an environment in which students could easily live, study and learn without ever leaving the grounds.

Opening the Lute Dome

A talented group of student journalists - Kristi Clough '07, Breanne Coats '08, Roxanne Cooke '07, Ben Gillespie '07, Jenn Henrichsen '07 and Kristen Martensen '09 - collaborated to produce this extraordinary package of stories and several of the featured photographs. All are communication majors, and all are members of MediaLab, a new PLU student-faculty research project comprised of nearly two dozen carefully selected students who engage in pre-professional journalism endeavors, both on-campus and off. In addition to Scene magazine, PLU MediaLab students also produce material for The News Tribune in Tacoma, the Peninsula Gateway in Gig Harbor and other local media outlets. Please expect to see the bylines of these rising stars in future editions of Scene.

- Robert Marshall Wells, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication and MediaLab faculty advisor

One among many faculty and administrators who were determined to enhance global education on campus, Nelson envisioned future PLU students having opportunities to touch – and be touched – by the outside world. And so, during his many years as registrar, he traveled to Scandinavia occasionally for recruiting purposes.

“There is nothing better than personal contact,” Nelson said of establishing relationships with people in other nations. “You just can’t beat it.”

Over the years, Nelson, who later became PLU’s international admissions director, has helped thousands of international students, many of Scandinavian descent, come to the U.S. to study at PLU. Those connections have only strengthened over time.

In 2005, Nelson received Norway’s St. Olaf Medal, an honor that recognized his work in the promotion of relations between the U.S. and Norway.

Nelson, who recently retired, proudly notes that PLU’s influence now extends around the globe, making the university a growing exporter and importer of ideas, information, education, knowledge and culture.

The PLU curriculum, too, has become increasingly international in its focus, as faculty across campus weave global content into their courses and study-away becomes more common, coordinated by the Wang Center for International Programs.

“We are still young, internationally speaking,” Nelson said, “but our fingers reach out all over the world.”

As we will see in the stories to follow, current PLU students, alumni and faculty continue to follow the international paths that the university began to tread nearly 40 years ago.

From an on-campus student team working to heighten awareness about pressing social issues, to international students who escaped poverty and war in Central America and Africa to study at PLU, it is clear that the Lute Dome is an increasingly dynamic place whose inhabitants are taking initiative, thinking globally, acting locally and making a difference.

Opening the Lute Dome - Student Articles



© Scene 2006  •  Pacific Lutheran University  •  Spring 2006

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