Winter convocations focus on river cleanup, international relations and words of love

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Cleaning up America’s rivers and streams and examining the international relationships with China and Japan are just two of the topics covered during the upcoming winter term academic convocations. The lectures and events will take place on five Thursdays during the term at 10:30 a.m. inside Centennial Hall (3703 7th Ave.) and are open to the public.

The first convocation, set for Nov. 18, features the first-year book Liberal Arts through the AGES: A Sesquicentennial Celebration. Faculty members will lead the campus through ancient, medieval, Renaissance and modern periods to explore questions of the human condition. Ideas, music and artistic images will be used to guide the audience through history.

On Dec. 9, Quad-City native Chad Pregracke, founder of Living Lands & Waters, will present “Making a Difference: Helping to Clean America’s Rivers.” Pregracke will share his knowledge of the Mississippi River and his experiences with cleaning up the river. He has won more than 40 awards, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service. Pregracke also has appeared on many major television networks and shows, including CNN, the Today show, and NBC Nightly News.    

The Augustana community will gather for its annual Christmas Convocation on Dec. 16. The program will include Christmas music and poetry, and the public is welcome to attend.

Dr. Peter Ochs, one of the founders of Scriptural Reasoning, will engage the Augustana and greater community in a conversation on January 13. Ochs will be joined by Imam Saad Baig from the Islamic Center of the Quad Cities, Rabbi Tamer Grimm from the Tri-City Jewish Center and the Rev. Richard Priggie from Augustana’s Office of Campus Ministries. They will demonstrate scriptural reasoning,  which involves examining the Hebrew Bible, New Testament and Qu’ran to find common themes.

In celebration of International Studies Week, Wilson Scholars Richard and Fumiko Mori Halloran will discuss international relations on January 27 as they share their experiences as journalists. Richard has served as a military and defense correspondent and as bureau chief for Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the central Pacific region while working for The New York Times. Fumiko has served as the senior political analyst at the Japan Economic Institute of America in Washington, D.C.

Richard and Fumiko will enlighten the audience by sharing the importance of looking into the context of events and examining the United States’ current relationships with both Japan and China.

The winter convocation series will wrap up February 3 with the American Shakespeare Center. The actors will explore the ridiculous words and actions associated with love. Using the text As You Like It, they will demonstrate gender ideals, stereotypes and the decisions people make while in love. The American Shakespeare Center has been touring internationally for more than two decades. It works to re-create the Blackfriars playhouse experience, Shakespeare’s first indoor theatre, which recognizes that actors are not alone in the theatre and must work to engage with the audience.

Visit for additional information or contact Scott Cason at or (309) 794-7323.

About Augustana: Founded in 1860 and situated on a 115-acre campus near the Mississippi River, Augustana College is a private, liberal arts institution affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The college enrolls 2,500 students from diverse geographic, social, ethnic and religious backgrounds and offers more than 70 majors and related areas of study. Augustana employs 287 faculty members and has a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. Augustana continues to do what it has always done: challenge and prepare students for lives of leadership and service in our complex, ever-changing world.