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Summer Chautauqua returns to St. Kate's in August with more family-friendly activities

St. Catherine University Archivist and Head of Special Collections, Deborah Kloiber, presents a class during the 2011 Chautauqua on the University’s special Ade Bethune collection.
St. Catherine University Archivist and Head of Special Collections, Deborah Kloiber, presents a class during the 2011 Chautauqua on the University’s special Ade Bethune collection.
Sher Stoneman

St. Catherine University hosts its 2nd Annual Summer Chautauqua from Aug. 8 through Aug. 15, 2012. Sponsored by the Office of Alumnae Relations and the College of Applied and Continuing Learning, the public event offers 45 classes, events and family-friendly activities.

In the tradition of summer adult enrichment and cultural activities, Summer Chautauqua showcases the breadth of scholarship and expertise offered by St. Kate’s renowned professors, talented staff and knowledgeable alumnae. The eight-day event offers adults and families a great way to stimulate the mind during a “staycation.”

Do you still have that novel inside you, yearning to be published? Curious about what compels us to eat and why? Concerned about social issues such as human trafficking or youth crime? Looking for ways to keep the mind sharp? From the scholar, poet or artist to the scientist or social-justice advocate — everyone will find something at St. Kate’s Summer Chautauqua.

Dancing the night away

BarraAn Irish Ceili kicks off the Summer Chautauqua on Wednesday, Aug. 8, from 7 to 9 p.m.  Music is provided by the Twin Cities group Barra, with dance caller Ann Wiberg.

A ceili (pronounced KAY-lee) is a traditional Irish gathering of fun and fellowship.  The event is family-friendly, and children are welcome to attend.

Barra members include Paul Garding on guitar and vocals, John McCormick on accordion and vocals, Dave Cammack on bodhran and accordion, and Amy Shaw on flute. Shaw is an associate professor of library, and systems/music librarian at St. Kate’s.


Nurturing tomorrow’s leaders

While Chautauqua is largely focused on adult enrichment, organizers are offering numerous family-friendly activities this year, including STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) robotics; birdhouse building; an Irish Ceili dance, an ice cream social and more.

For girls entering 6th–8th grades in fall 2012, St. Kate’s also offers a Girls Leadership Track during Summer Chautauqua, that runs Friday Aug. 10–Monday, Aug. 13. This unique opportunity for girls emphasizes the development of authentic leadership. The program is built on St. Catherine University’s model for "The Reflective Woman," which focuses on aesthetics, ethics, social justice and what it means to lead a meaningful life.

The program requires that youth are accompanied by an “adult champion” – their mothers, grandmothers, aunts or other mentors. The Girls Leadership Track will provide the tools and resources for girls to carry their leadership journey forward.

“This leadership track gives girls the opportunity to explore their power and their voice and to have insightful conversations about leadership with the influential women in their lives,” says Mary Angela Baker, director of the Center of Continuing Education and the Leadership Institute. “We believe that the adults will also receive valuable feedback from the young women about their generational perspectives on leadership.”

History of Chautauqua

Before the Internet, television and radio, educational movements like Chautauqua provided the public with opportunities to hear from speakers, teachers, entertainers, religious leaders and experts of the day.

The very first Chautauqua, known as the “Mother Chautauqua,” was organized in 1874 by Methodist minister John Heyl Vincent and businessman Lewis Miller at a campsite on Chautauqua Lake in New York State.

The Chautauqua movement wound down in the 1940s as radio and movie theaters made the world more accessible. However, popular Chautauqua gatherings continue to this day throughout the country, including the event on the shores of Chautauqua Lake where the Mother Chautauqua was founded.

The tradition of Chautauqua fits with St. Kate’s efforts to provide life-long learning opportunities for alumnae, neighbors and friends. While the Office of Alumnae Relations has held one-time classes, trips and other events, the Chautauqua offerings are decidedly more ambitious.

Class and event registration

Most classes and events offered during Summer Chautauqua 2012 will be two hours or less, and each session will provide an atmosphere for interaction and camaraderie. Chautauqua sessions are open to the public.

The cost is $20 per class for one to three classes, $17 per class for four to seven classes and $15 per class for eight or more classes. The Girls Leadership Track is $40 per class for a child/adult duo, or $175 for the entire series. Tickets for opening and closing events are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Prices vary for other family-friendly events.

For more information, visit

June 12, 2012 by Sharon Rolenc

See also: Alumnae/i, Faculty, Leadership