Part of the Nena Amundson estate gift to Luther supports a competitive distinguished professorship, awarded biennially to a faculty member through evaluation of project proposals by a selection committee.
Special consideration is given to proposals focusing on health and wellness issues for women because they were important for Amundson's career. A 1956 graduate of Luther, she was a pioneer in collegiate women's sports programs. Amundson taught physical education and coached women’s athletics for more than 40 years. This was primarily at California Lutheran University.
The Amundson Award provides a faculty stipend of $5,000, a student stipend of $2,500, and $2,500 for the research project. The award is renewable up to one year.
Professor Keuny's Amundson project was called “Women’s Role in Amish Community Forgiveness.” She studied how women aid in teaching and exhibiting forgiveness. This project shed light on the spiritual wellness of the Amish, and demonstrated how informal avenues of teaching forgiveness can permeate spiritual wellness throughout communities.
Professor Suomala's Amundson project focused on three main aspects: the pursuit of health and wholeness involves crossing boundaries, differing ideas of health and wholeness collide within traditions and across religious boundaries, and the search for health and wholeness leads to new understandings of the self and the religious other. Students read, listened to, and discussed sacred literature, liturgical texts, and work of contemporary writers, thinkers, and practitioners from religious traditions including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism. In doing this, they reflected on the roles health and wholeness play in their own lives and as part of their identities.
Professor Deifelt's Amundson project addressed the dichotomy between body and mind/soul, the human body in our culture, the role of human sexuality in embodiment, and practices that foment embodied selves. Students enrolled in the course God and Gender were given the opportunity to conduct surveys on their Luther College peers to reveal how students perceive their bodies, what their ideal and real body images are, what mechanisms they employ to address the pressure of having a “perfect body”, what healthy and unhealthy practices should be highlighted, and whether they are aware of the venues for support available on campus. Participants then met for group discussions to address the original four issues described above.
Professor Pickard's Amundson project was related to women’s health care needs including barriers preventing health and wellness, health strategies that are not provided by Western medicine, and the role of family, social networks, and cultural background in women’s health. Wanda and a student colleague attempted to answer a number of questions using an anthropological research methodology that included a survey, open-ended interviews, and participant observation.
Professor Barry's Amundson project took the form of collaborative research with a student regarding breast cancer that had implications for behavior choices made by undergraduate women. The collaboration yielded several pieces of writing by the student, under her mentorship, and one co-authored essay on the nature and efficacy of teaching undergraduate women about a disease that many think they are immune to, given their age.