On Friday, October 5, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustav and Queen Silva visited Gustavus to celebrate the end of the College’s Sesquicentennial. Their Majesties arrived on campus and walked from Three Flags to Christ Chapel as over 1000 children and guests lined the sidewalk to watch the processional.
Following the processional, a worship service was held in Christ Chapel that included remarks from His Majesty. During their visit to Gustavus, the King and Queen also received a private showing of the current exhibit, 150 Years of Swedish Art: Highlights from the Swedish National Collections in Stockholm, in the Hillstrom Museum of Art.
Later in the day, the Sesquicentennial Plaza was dedicated in Their Majesties’ honor, before the King and Queen each presided over concurrent panels on global issues they champion.
His Majesty’s Seminar entitled “From Global to Local: Teaching and Living Environmental Sustainability” was held in the Jussi Bjorling Recital Hall. The prelude to the seminar featured Gustavus’s a cappella ensemble, G Sharp, who performed three pieces before President Jack Ohle announced the entrance of His Majesty King Carl Gustaf XVI of Sweden.
The seminar was moderated by President and CEO of Minnesota High Tech Association Margaret Anderson Kelliher ‘90, who is also distinguished by having served five terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives. Anderson Kelliher began her address with a poem by English Professor and Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen and referenced the Nobel Conference as one of Minnesota’s greatest opportunities for the presentation of scientific research and public dialogue.
The panel of presenters included Associate Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies Jeff Jeremiason, Senior Environmental Studies Major Alex Christensen, Chair and CEO of the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Christine Morse and Swedish Ambassador to the United States Jonas Hafstrom.
Christensen was the first to present an address and emphasized the importance of a holistic view of environmental studies. He touched on the Gustavus “bubble” that disconnects students from the greater St. Peter community as well as from larger world issues, including sustainability. Both Jeremiason and Morse highlighted the importance of citizen involvement in promoting sustainability and investigating solutions to environmental concerns. Jeremiason related personal experience from his stay in Sweden as well as his goals as an educator while Morse touched on both the Cargill Foundation’s philanthropy and the role colleges play in creating future leaders.
Ambassador Hafstrom shared his goals for both Sweden and its cooperation with the United States in their endeavor to eliminate carbon emissions and transition to alternative energy.
“Political actions and tough legislation has brought Sweden a long way. Fossil fuels for heating will be completely phased out by 2020,”Ambassador Hafstrom said of his country’s progress.
After the presentations there was a chance for audience discussion and formulation of questions for the panel. Many addressed the political aspect of creating environmental policy while others asked advice on how to move towards local and national sustainability, with Sweden and its engagement of government, business and citizens as a model of progress and success.
Her Majesty’s Seminar entitled “Protecting and Supporting the World’s Women and Children” was held in Christ Chapel. Kris Ohle announced Queen Silvia’s entrance and gave a brief introduction before Professor of Communication Studies and Advisor in Pre-Law Terry Morrow, the seminar’s moderator, introduced each of the panel participants.
The panel included Neo Mpunga, a Gustavus sophomore; Elizabeth Baer, Professor in English, African Studies, and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies; Cathy ten Broeke ’91, Special Advisor to the Executive Director at the United States Interagency Council, and Her Majesty Queen Silvia. Each panelist gave a narrative as to why they stood for the rights of children and women.
Mpunga shared his story of losing his father at a very young age and what it was like growing up in a single-parent family. He spoke of his experiences and how he came to Gustavus.
“My story is of success but I am here representing the other tens of thousands of children,” Mpunga said.
Professor Baer described three stories of Gustavus students that highlighted them fulfilling their responsibility for a strong community and social justice. Ten Broeke discussed her work to end homelessness alongside a program called Opening Doors, a national program to end homelessness. She noted that 13,000 people are on the street in Minnesota each night as the cost of living has risen too high. Her Majesty wrapped up the seminar by describing her Childhood Foundation.
After the introductions, Morrow asked the panel what keeps them going. Ten Broeke looks at the progress, even if it is slow and small, as the guiding light to keep pushing for more. Mpunga is guided by his faith and Her Majesty Queen Silvia talked of the stories that she has heard of the tragedies that people share.
Baer echoed these sentiments: “I love seeing Gustavus students and their passion for social change in class and then being acted out in the world, really watching people be the change that you want to see in the world,” Baer said.
Queen Silvia ended the seminar with a call to action. “Everybody can take responsibility. We have to give them a chance to do good, because we can all make a difference,” Her Majesty Queen Silvia said.