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A Feast of Words, featuring Minnesota Transform

January 27 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Virtual Virtual Event
Friends Forum: A series for curious minds (icon)

Presented by the Friends of the Libraries and the Campus Club

Join us online on Thursday, Jan 27 at 7 p.m. for a conversation about Minnesota Transform and the project’s central belief that deep engagement with community can enrich and challenge humanistic knowledge and the practices of the University. This event brings together panelists Mike Hoyt of Pillsbury House Theatre; Tracey Deutsch, Professor of History at the University of Minnesota; Jigna Desai, Professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota; and Kat Nelsen, a Social Sciences Librarian at the University Libraries.

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About Minnesota Transform

Minnesota Transform is a $5 million higher education initiative funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that addresses decolonial and racial justice in the University, Twin Cities, and state through public humanities projects. We collaborate with Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and refugee communities to amplify historical interpretations, create new narratives and dialogues, foster community well-being, and inform policy responses at and beyond the University. The humanities — media, visual art, narratives, and vision — have been critical to survival and to life beyond mere survival: insurgency, resurgence, and solidarity. This initiative collaborates with community partners to place humanistic ways of knowing on the front line of struggles for justice.

Central to our project is the belief that deep engagement with community can enrich and challenge humanistic knowledge and the practices of the University. We believe that transformation happens with accountability, reckoning, and relationship-building and that it also requires that people are able to control and tell their own narratives, in their own languages. Thus Minnesota Transform seeks to strategically broaden and deepen previously established relationships with communities and also to hold the University accountable for its complicities and pave the way for redress. Building the University’s capacity to be a site of racial justice expands its contributions to knowledge production and to a collective future.

About the Speakers

Jigna Desai

Jigna Desai is a Professor in the Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and the Asian American Studies Program, and affiliated with the Department of American Studies in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She has written extensively on issues of race, gender, sexuality, and media and explores how digital media-making can support students to further social justice. For two decades, her teaching and service have worked to create racial and gender justice within higher education. She also co-directs MN Youth Story Squad with Dr. Kari Smalkoski. As Principal Investigator, Desai will maintain lines of communication with internal and external partners, facilitate regular meetings with the project team, plan digital media projects, and work with undergraduate and graduate interns, youth, and community partners on co-creating projects

Tracey Deutsch

Tracey Deutsch is an Associate Professor of History, affiliated with the Departments of American Studies and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She researches and writes on food and the politics of food access. She has led numerous publicly engaged and interdisciplinary initiatives, and has come to believe that honoring everyday caregiving is key to social change and institutional transformation. She is the Faculty Coordinator of Minnesota Transform and will work across these projects to support internships, narrative projects, writing, art, curricular units, and media projects related to food, mutual aid, caregiving, and basic needs.

Mike Hoyt
Mike Hoyt

Mike Hoyt has led Pillsbury House +Theatre’s creative community development work for eight years and has supported more than 150 artists in over 130 community-engaged art projects via the Arts on Chicago and Art Blocks initiatives.

Hoyt is a MN born Kanaka Maoli artist who maintains an individual community engaged arts practice. His accomplishments as a community-engaged artist include awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board, a Northern Lights.mn Art(ists) on the Verge Fellowship, a Jerome Visual Artist Fellowship, and a McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship.  In 2017, Hoyt was select as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader.


Kat Nelsen

Kat Nelsen is a Social Sciences Librarian at the University of Minnesota Libraries. In this interim role she supports the research, teaching, and learning of faculty, staff, and students in the departments of American Studies, American Indian Studies, Anthropology, Asian American Studies, and Sociology. She has worked with the Minnesota Transform team to coordinate library support and training for researchers and has been a strong advocate for the development of Minnesota Transform-sponsored internships in the University Libraries. Kat is passionate about breaking down barriers to access (both visible and invisible) to education and information.

Event details

What: A Feast of Words | Humanities on the Front Lines: Public Partnerships and Transforming the University
When: Thursday, Jan. 27, 7 p.m. Central Standard Time
Where: Free online event — Please make a reservation to receive the Zoom link to join the event.


January 27
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Categories:


Friends of the University of Minnesota Libraries