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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Minnesota State Mankato's Learning Communities provide students with academic and social support that leads to success in college and beyond. Students live and learn with other first-year students and take the same classes with other peers who have the same or similar major interests. Participants gain access to faculty, peer mentoring and advising designed to help them stay on track and finish in four years. Students who are active in Learning Communities can also enjoy higher GPAs, early move-in, pre-enrollment, first-year friends, and success! For more information on Learning Communities or how to join, visit our website

Dr. Anges Odinga Serves as Co-Chair for the Pan African Conference

Every spring semester, Minnesota State University, Mankato hosts the Pan African Conference. This February Dr. Agnes Odinga served as a co-chair alongside Kenneth Reid, Director of the Center for African American Affairs. The theme of the 2019 Pan African Conference is “Dreaming of Wakanda.” The theme originates from the 2018 film, Black Panther, and is symbolic for the concept of Pan Africanism. Pan-Africanism is a global movement that advocates for solidarity of African people within the continent and the diaspora. At Minnesota State University the event provides a place for scholars, community members and students to dialogue about issues concerning diversity and multiculturalism. Professor Odinga described the conference as, “a vehicle to discuss economic empowerment, liberating education, social justice and inclusion.” While the Pan African conference provides great opportunities for African American students to network, it also provides an opportunity for the whole community of students and staff to learn about Pan Africanism. For an in-depth explanation of Pan-Africanism, listen to the radio interview that Dr. Odinga, Kenneth Reid, and Ruby Olouch provided on KMOJ.

Torre del Oror 


In summer 2018, Dr. Jameel Haque travelled to Spain through the support of a Faculty Improvement Grant. Dr. Haque was one of two MSU faculty members at the World Congress of Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES). WOCMES occurs every four years as a way to gather people who work on or in the Middle East to share ideas, network and develop ideas. At the conference, Dr. Haque attended panels and presentations, engaged with cultural programing and “met interesting scholars, activists, writers, and musicians.” It wasn’t all just academic work, Dr. Haque had time to attend a concert of the Royal Seville Symphony Orchestra, and visit the Alhambra in Granada. We can only imagine how amazing the Spanish food must have been!
Dr. Haque is the department’s authority on Middle East and Islamic culture and history. His courses include entry-level forays into Islamic Civilization, and advanced courses in Middle Eastern History. Furthermore, Dr. Haque teaches a popular comparative history of religion course: Foundations of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 
Popular perceptions of Spain might imagine that the country’s historical cultures and traditions are predominantly Catholic. In fact, Spain has a rich history of Jewish and Islamic cultures. Dr. Haque travelled to Spain to learn more about its rich Islamic history. While there, Dr. Haque observed that “many sites in Spain involve Muslim culture, but weren’t marked so tourists could know about them.” Dr. Haque also expressed interest in developing a study abroad to Spain and Portugal. He notes that there are established Islamic heritage routes through the countries that our students could explore.
-Maria Lezama- 

Department Faculty Support Global Initiatives


In recent years, historians at Minnesota State Mankato have taken strides in initiating and fostering academic partnerships with institutions of higher education across the world. Department historians have offered study abroad and study away courses to Mexico, France, and Alabama, and a new course, currently in the works from Dr. Loayza and Dr. McCutchen, will offer students the experience to study in Cuba during the 2020 Spring Break.

Our historians are also working on developing relationships with other universities around the globe. During the summer of 2018, for example, Dr. Agnes Odinga, Dr. Kyle Ward, and Dr. Justin Biel travelled to identify and work with universities toward the goal of establishing academic partnerships. Dr. Odinga, visited the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia, while Dr. Ward and Dr. Biel together visited The University of Southeast Norway. In September, a group of faculty from the Norwegian institution made their second visit to Mankato.

During Dr. Odinga’s visit, the specialist in modern African history visited fourteen universities, four of which are among the oldest universities established in the region. Her trip was supported by the Dean of Global Education, Dr. Anne Dahlman. Dr. Odinga reported that all fourteen of the Universities expressed interest in establishing collaborative partnerships with MSU, Mankato. Dr. Ward and Dr. Biel’s visit, which was supported by a grant through the Norwegian department of education, took them to southeastern Norway where they visited the campus of The University of Southeast Norway in the city of Bø. The University of Southeast Norway has eight campuses across Southeast Norway. During the visit, Dr. Ward was able to work with the University of Southeast Norway to develop a collaborative class teaching Norwegian immigration to America and Dr. Biel worked towards establishing a Viking Age history course between the two universities.

Establishing partnerships with international institutions provides Minnesota State Mankato students with opportunities to expand their cultural horizons while earning their degree. These potential partnerships will allow students to participate in new study abroad opportunities. Students interested in African studies would be able to study in some of the continent’s oldest universities, while students interested in studying in Norway would get to experience a newly- accredited university system. In August 2018, for example, three Social Studies students had the opportunity to complete a student teaching experience in Norway. In spring 2019, two classes, held simultaneously in Norway and in Mankato, will learn about the history of Norwegian immigration to America. Both groups will make transatlantic trips, where they will learn first-hand from faculty and staff at their partner institutions.

Global partnerships also present opportunities for professors at both institutions. Through faculty exchange programs, professors can teach at partner institutions for a few weeks, a semester, or even an entire year. Not only is this an exciting potential opportunity for the


 History Student’s Master’s Thesis Recognized by Iowa History Center

Abigail Hoy Nissen, (MA, History, ‘18) has been awarded the 2018 Master’s Thesis Award from the Iowa History Center for her outstanding thesis on the history of Iowa. The Master’s Thesis Award is an honor presented annually by the Iowa History Center at Simpson College to recognize students who, through the writing of their thesis, make a contribution to the knowledge of Iowa history, show originality in their research methodology, and demonstrate excellent use of sources and written expression.

This award has honored students since 2009 and consists of a plaque and a $1,000 cash prize. Hoy Nissen is the first honoree from a university outside of Iowa. Hoy Nissen’s thesis, “The Female Voice of Enfranchisement: A Reassessment of Woman Suffrage in Iowa,” focuses on the story of early Iowa woman suffrage. She argues that too often historians have overlooked women doing the work of suffrage in the state. Hoy Nissen connects these early women suffragists to temperance and other moral reform movements, and uses suffrage rhetoric (especially in newspapers) to highlight broader themes in the Iowa movement.

Dr. Lori Lahlum (History) served as the faculty supervisor for Hoy Nissen’s research, and Dr. Angela Jill Cooley (History), Dr. Kathleen Gorman (History) and Dr. Laura Harrison (Gender and Women’s Studies) served on the thesis committee.

For more information about the Department of History at Minnesota State University, Mankato, visit More information about the Iowa History Center can be found at