Program Overview

Program Description:

The Luther College Rochester Semester is a new program (launched Spring 2020) intended to take advantage of the exciting opportunities available a mere sixty-five miles to the north of Decorah. It will provide a platform for students to engage in high impact, career-related experiential learning.  Drawing on the College’s expansive alumni base in the area (one that includes professionals in all areas of business, industry, the arts, and sciences), students will have unique access to immersive learning opportunities designed to help them discern career paths, acquire concrete, job-related experience, and build social capital. These immersion internships offer students the opportunity for 15-20+ hours/week of on-site work, with potential to extend or precede the semester with a full time experience during an adjacent J-Term and/or summer, if of interest to both student and provider. To complete the 12-14 credit program, Rochester Semester participants will also enroll in two Rochester-based courses taught by Luther College faculty.    


Academic Program:  The Rochester Semester’s academic program will fulfill the J-2 requirement and consist of the following:

  • Internship (6-8 cr.): these credits can be applied toward total credit hours needed for graduation and, in some cases, for credits within the major. (See detailed information below)
  • Paideia 450 (4 cr.). Course content will focus on place-based ethical challenges in the Rochester community. Fulfills the Paideia II requirement. (See example course descriptions below).
  • GS 382 (2 cr.): Integrating Academic and Experiential Learning. In this course, students will reflect on and integrate pertinent knowledge and insights gained from their internship settings in the context of their previous coursework and experiences. Further, students will evaluate the opportunities and challenges posed by the environments in which they are working and develop strategies to build their way forward in collaboration with their peers.

Internships:   The Program Director will work with participants and host organizations to develop semester-long immersive experiences in an area connected to the student’s interest, e.g., working in a Mayo research lab or doing public relations for an Arts non-profit (see reverse side for examples of potential areas). This work will include preparing both students and hosts for these collaborations.  Students should expect to spend 15-20+ hours per week in their internships (depending upon the number of credits), and discuss and share their experiences and growth at regularly spaced intervals with the program’s director and other program participants.  Depending upon the specific internship, such experiences may be paid or unpaid, but all will receive academic credit.  Examples of past internship locations: Mayo Clinic Health Systems Finance, Rochester Diversity Council, City of Rochester Sustainability, Mayo Clinic Information Technology, Gift of Life Transplant House, Mayo Bioscience and Digital Health Science Research Labs.

Examples of Previous Rochester Paideia 450 Courses (specific course each semester TBD):

Paideia 450 – The Mutable City: Ethical Engagement with Urban Change and Challenges.   This course will investigate various aspects of the transformation taking place in the small, Midwestern city of Rochester, Minnesota.  Areas of ethical focus may include:  city planning; sustainability; infrastructure; government engagement; housing needs; immigration; and education.  A substantial portion of the course will involve guest lectures and discussions from individuals in prominent and relevant positions in the community.

Paideia 450 --Rochester, City of Refuge: The Ethics of Immigration and Integration. Over the past fifty years, Rochester, MN has become home to thousands of immigrants and refugees, from countries all over the world. This course will explore the practical considerations involved in the city’s reception of these populations and its ongoing attempts to successfully integrate them into the community. The class will include an overview of the legal framework of migration, the ethics involved in navigating that system, the various NGOs and civic organizations in Rochester that are working on integrating newcomers, and the experience of Rochester’s immigrants themselves.