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: Professor Timothy R Johnson


Professor Timothy Johnson wanted to shine a light on a rich primary source for researchers in political science and law--the handwritten notes of past Supreme Court justices. But first, he needed help from a few hundred citizen scientists.
Portrait of Mitchell Kinney

Broadening the Scope on Statistics Careers

“Autonomy is what will allow exploration to explode in the future. With autonomy, human costs are significantly reduced while we are still reaping the benefits,” says Doctoral Dissertation Fellow Mitchell Kinney about what he learned at his NASA internship. Kinney was originally drawn to a degree in statistics because of the vast array of opportunities. See how Kinney has taken his statistical savvy to NASA and the NFL.
Shadowy figures stand on stage

Ping Chong and Talvin Wilks on Collidescope 4.0: Speaking to an Ongoing American...

“As a nation, we are not comfortable talking about race, and yet race is central to the core being of this nation.” Professor Talvin Wilks and National Medal of Arts recipient Ping Chong brought their collaborative performance Collidescope 4.0: Adventures in Pre and Post-Racial America to the University of Minnesota.
Headshot of Issraa El-Khatib

The Beauty of Human Connection

Issraa El-Khatib spent summer 2018 working an internship in Toledo, Spain and taking a course on Christian, Muslim, and Jewish art. She talks about the significance of connecting with classmates, professors, a host family, and her religion. “As a Muslim, it gave me a sense of familiarity and pride in a country that had seemed so foreign to me before,” she says.
Headshot of Jacob Dixon

Gain New Perspectives

For Jacob Dixon, studying in Maputo, Mozambique confirmed a desire to teach Portuguese and opened up interests in the greater Lusophone world. Support from the Institute for Global Studies and the US Department of Education made his trip possible.