CLA Stories

At Backpack, we’re strategic storytellers for the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. The college is a hub for intellectual and creative innovation, and we tell stories that spark curiosity, connection, and inspiration. Our objective is to transform CLA into a destination college by telling stories about the students, faculty, and alumni.

Portrait of stage manager, Sarah Hasker.

Ellie Simonett: Life Behind the Scenes and on the Stage

“I wanted to help create the magic of what theatre is.” UMN alum Ellie Simonett embraced life behind the scenes by specializing in theatrical lighting. In spring 2019, Simonett was elected as the president of UMN’s student chapter of USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology). She explains how she worked her way up to be assistant lighting designer, later designing a few shows herself.
Detail from the Story Maps project Cortes’ New World

Students as Map Makers: Connecting Concepts to Geography

Instructors from the Department of Spanish & Portuguese Studies (SPPT) and the Department of History explain how integrating Story Maps technology into their courses has helped their students develop cultural competency and spatial thinking. “These projects situated those cultural products and practices in their specific places in a way that was completely understandable to their classmates because of the map,” says Cecily Brown.
Portrait of Meixi Ng

Learning Through the Land: How Indigenous Knowledge Can Shape Schools

Postdoctoral fellow Meixi began her work this spring at the Department of American Indian Studies. As she learns more about Minnesota through the people and the landscape, she is excited for the opportunities to work within the community. Her work focuses on connecting with communities and designing educational systems that incorporate Indigenous knowledge in subjects like math and science.