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.

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.
Close-up of a human sculpture on UMN's West Bank campus

Q&A With Maggie Schuster

Maggie Schuster is currently in her second year PhD program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on Mughal architecture commissioned by royal women. A highlight of her undergrad experience was receiving funding from UROP (Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program) to create an exhibition and symposium with her metal casting class. She appreciates that “many of the art history faculty were extremely helpful in both the application writing process and throughout the course of the project.”
Self-portrait photo of Marit Anderson

Q&A With Marit Anderson

Marit Anderson is currently attending the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, pursuing an MA in art history. Reflecting on her time at the U, she says that the art history program’s capstone class “helped [her] learn to write more clearly for a more diverse audience.”
Self-portrait photo of Nastasya Kosygina

Q&A With Nastasya Kosygina

Nastasya Kosygina currently attends a PhD program in visual studies at the University of California, Irvine. She focuses on the art and archaeology of the late antique Near East and eastern Mediterranean. She says, "[the department] shaped the way I think about material culture… and contributed to my writing and argumentation style.”
Photo of Caitlyn Carr in a tearoom

Q&A With Caitlyn Carr

Caitlyn Carr, a graduate from the U, is currently finishing her Masters in Art History at American University. Her thesis involves ideas of visual culture and postmodern theory. She says, “I appreciate that the department required a senior thesis paper because it gave me some experience when it came to writing mine for my masters program.”
Chinese Flagship students with Mountain in China

The Chinese Flagship Program: Creating Global Citizens

The Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies has been awarded the renewal of the Chinese Flagship Grant. This federal grant funds the Chinese Flagship Program, which prepares students to be global professionals fluent in Chinese language and culture. Program Director Ning Ma explains how students will benefit from the grant—from intensive Chinese language courses to funded study abroad programs.