S.10: E.1: “I’m Learning, They’re Learning, We’re Learning Together”

Learning for Life @ Gustavus host Greg Kaster interviews Gustavus political science professor Kate Knutson.
Posted on September 6th, 2021 by

Professor Kate Knutson of the Department of Political Science at Gustavus and winner of the college’s most prestigious teaching award talks about teaching in person amid the constraints of COVID-19, growing up in Hawaii, her undergraduate experience at Linfield College, her research on interfaith advocacy and politics in Minnesota, her religious faith and identity, effective teaching at a liberal arts college like Gustavus, the case for studying political science, and the Senate filibuster.

Season 10, Episode 1: “I’m Learning, They’re Learning, We’re Learning Together”

Greg Kaster:
Hello and welcome to Learning for Life @ Gustavus, the podcast about people teaching and learning at Gustavus Adolphus College, and the myriad ways a Gustavus liberal arts education provides a lasting foundation for lives of fulfillment and purpose. I’m your host, Greg Kaster, faculty member in the department of history.

“One of my very first political memories involves standing and waving on the side of the road next to giant cutout letters of a candidate’s name on Election Day in Mountain View, Hawaii. I was about five-years-old,” so wrote my colleague and guest today, Dr. Katherine, Kate, Knutson of the Gustavus Political Science Department, about what in hindsight, at least, seems to have foretold her education and career. Professor Knutson holds three degrees in political science, a BA from Linfield College in Oregon, and an MA and PhD from the University of Washington. She joined the Gustavus faculty in 2005, and currently chairs her department. Among her many popular courses are Analyzing Politics, Politics and the Media, Women, Gender, and US Politics, Interest Groups in American politics, Hawaii: Beyond Tourism, and Inauguration Politics, Washington DC.

An outstanding teacher, she is the 2020 recipient of the Edgar M. Carlson Award for Distinguished Teaching at Gustavus. Two years earlier, she received the Faculty Service Award, in no small part for her long and excellent leadership of our first term seminar program. She continues to provide curricular leadership as chair of our Curriculum Committee. Dr. Knutson is also an active scholar focusing on religious interest groups, public policy, and the media. Her extensive research, some of it with Gustavus students, has resulted in numerous presentations and publications, including her excellent book, which I highly recommend, Interfaith Advocacy: The Role of Religious Coalitions in the Political Process, published by Rutledge in 2013, now in paperback. And praised by one reviewer as, “An important contribution to the study of interest group representation in the United States.”

As all this suggests, Kate’s teaching and research both bear directly on our fraught political present and I’m delighted she could join me for this conversation about her work and how she came to it. Kate, welcome to the podcast, it’s really great to have you on.

Kate Knutson:
Thank you, Greg. It’s great to be here.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah, I’m glad we can finally have a conversation like this. It’s so strange because we’re all so busy, we rarely get to talk to one another about our work and even the liberal arts. So, I’ve really been looking forward to this. Speaking of teaching, how has it been for you the last 14 months or so? Were you teaching online all that time, as I was, or hybrid?

Kate Knutson:
It has been an adventure. I’ve actually, with the exception of spring of 2020 when we were all online fully, I’ve been teaching in person for the full year.

Greg Kaster:
Oh wow, good for you.

Kate Knutson:
Yep. So, we actually started the fall semester with first term seminar, first year students on campus for their first term seminar. So, we started in September and had students in the classroom and then I taught all of my courses in person, except for those few periods where we did go online as the full college. And it was wonderful, it was really fun to be back in a classroom with students and it looked very different to all be sitting six feet apart with masks on. And I’m realizing that I have a whole group of first-year students that I worked with in the fall, that I probably won’t even recognize on campus in the fall because we’ve never seen each other’s faces, in person at least. But it was really fun to be able to be in the classroom with them.

Greg Kaster:
Well, I’m glad you were able to do that. I really miss being in the classroom. I mean, the online teaching I think went well, I run my classes, they’re small enough usually I can run them in a discussion primarily, but still it’s not the same. And for some reason, you were mentioning about not knowing their faces reminded me of a comment one of my favorite high school teachers said a long time ago. He was teaching in the Soviet Union and what he remembers is that because the kids, I think these were grade school kids, they all wore uniforms. Because they all were dressed the same, he felt he was able to focus much more on their faces and their individuality that way. Yeah, I hadn’t thought about that. What the impact of being in person with your students masked … I mean, did you feel at all you could get to know them, I mean, nonetheless, even though you couldn’t quite see their faces?

Kate Knutson:
It did. I mean, I think it caused us to be creative in terms of how we interacted. Obviously, all of the things that we take for granted at a liberal arts college where we do have small classes and lots of interaction with students, I think, we had to reevaluate a lot of that and be really creative. How do you do small group discussions when students can’t really sit in a small group with each other, really close together? And so, I think, we were still able to make connections and get to know each other, we just did it in a slightly different way.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. I mean, another question occurs to me, I’ve thought about this a lot, do you have any sense of what you might continue doing, even with masks off and we’re “back to normal”? Because it will be interesting, I think, to see, think about and also see how our teaching going forward is impacted by what we’ve done, what we’ve learned in terms of being creative out of necessity.

Kate Knutson:
Right. I think one of the benefits of what we learned during the pandemic experience was making our courses really accessible.

Greg Kaster:
Yes.

Kate Knutson:
And so, I was teaching my courses in person, but in every class I had students who were either fully online because they were international students or because they had health concerns, or I had students who were intermittently online, they were in quarantine or they got sick. And so, we had to be really flexible about class and thinking about how do I present information in a way that’s accessible, not only to the students who are in the classroom, but also to the students who are joining us online?

Greg Kaster:
Right.

Kate Knutson:
And so, I think that some of those practices, those accessibility practices, I will probably continue into the future because they just made it easier for students to engage in the class, those students that weren’t there, but even students who are in class and maybe need that extra bit of help, that also was really useful to them. So, hopefully I’ll be able to continue some of those things.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. I probably will do that as well, having had some international students it was interesting. The other thing I definitely will do, which I mean, the word synchronous and asynchronous, I had never heard of before and maybe I never want to hear again. But I mean, I will definitely continue some of the asynchronous activities, which were really useful, I think, and interesting. I mean, the students really leaned into them, so to speak, and I was impressed by that. I think that will for sure continue in my courses. So, we’ll see. I mean, there are all these predictions about how teaching will be transformed. We’ll see. I doubt it will be that dramatic, right?

Kate Knutson:
Right. Well, one little thing that I can think about is I have always been a pen and paper kind of person.

Greg Kaster:
Likewise.

Kate Knutson:
I like reading things on paper-

Greg Kaster:
Same here.

Kate Knutson:
… so, students turning in papers and things like that.

Greg Kaster:
Yes.

Kate Knutson:
And this forced me to do a lot more online. And so, I think I’ve gotten better at being able to read and evaluate student work that’s submitted online and that obviously is also good for the environment. So, it’s got a nice little side benefit there of cutting down on our paper production and consumption. So, I think, the little things like that are probably here to stay and that’s a really good thing.

Greg Kaster:
I need to get together with you for a tutorial on that. I tried the online grading, the spring of ’20, and I couldn’t do it. This is insane, I’m admitting this for the first time publicly, but I printed out all the work. They submitted-

Kate Knutson:
Oh no, Greg, you didn’t.

Greg Kaster:
They submitted it on Moodle, and at home with our printer I printed it out because like you … And I wrote the comments, then I would scan all the papers back with the comments, back to the students. Anyway, laborious. But it’s that pen and paper that I, like you, I really like, but I do want to be able to do that commenting online. I just have to … So, anyway, to be scheduled.

Kate Knutson:
Yeah, we can talk about that because I have some strategies now that have really worked well for me so that I can still feed my need for pen and paper, but cut down on the overall use of paper.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. I mean, we will definitely talk about that. Maybe we won’t do it as a podcast, but we’ll do it [crosstalk 00:09:47].

Kate Knutson:
There’s about three people in the world that would be interested in that conversation.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. And yeah, two of us right here.

Kate Knutson:
Right.

Greg Kaster:
So, it sounds like things went reasonably well. I mean, that’s my overall sense. Contrary to some of the doom and gloom early on, I thought the students really rose to the occasion, for the most part. I felt there was genuine learning going on, but also can’t wait to get back to the classroom which I plan to do-

Kate Knutson:
Our students were really amazing through all of this. I mean, we use the word resilience a lot, but they showed so much resilience and flexibility and just willingness to put up with our experiments. And things weren’t working, and then we changed them, and they were so wonderful. And then even on campus, they just did such a good job of following the health guidelines and I felt really safe on campus with the guidelines that our leadership came up with. And for me, the real first test was really early in the year, I had a student who contracted COVID.

And so, I was pretty nervous when that came through because I thought, “Oh no, I’m in class with this student every single day and we meet five days a week in this classroom.” But every student wore a mask and every student kept distant and was really good about following rules and no other students in the course, or me, got sick from that.

Greg Kaster:
Wow. That’s great.

Kate Knutson:
And so, that was really reassuring early on that the steps that we were taking were actually effective in stopping the spread. And then, just to have our students be so diligent about following those rules and helping enforce those rules amongst their friends was really encouraging as well.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. I agree. Well, I wasn’t on campus. Partly I chose to because of my age, the risk group, but that was my sense, from what I’ve heard, you’re echoing what I’ve heard from other faculty who did teach in person. And certainly, I’m grateful for the flexibility we had as faculty, not only in terms of whether we teach in person or hybrid or all online, but also remember early on, I mean, some colleagues at other institutions, they had 48 hours or something to go from in-person to online. Whereas we had, I think we had two weeks.

Kate Knutson:
We had two weeks.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. Good Lord, that was enormously helpful. And then yes, the word resilience, exactly. I mean, I know it’s almost now a cliche, but it’s true. Were you there in … No, you weren’t there in ’98 yet, were you? During the tornado.

Kate Knutson:
I was not. I did not live through the tornado.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. At least in my time, the two great tests, the tornado of ’98 and now, and the college has really risen to the occasion. Alum, students, faculty, staff, leaders. Yeah, knock wood. And Heather Dale was awesome-

Kate Knutson:
She was.

Greg Kaster:
She was the Director of Health Service.

Kate Knutson:
And to have a provost who’s a biochemist, molecular biologist was very nice too.

Greg Kaster:
Yes. That’s true.

Kate Knutson:
And a president who’s also a scientist. I mean, I think we had a lot of things going in our favor.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. Good point. That’s a good point. Yeah, you’re reminding me, one of my early recordings was with our colleague, Laura Burrack, of biology, her expertise actually reassured me a great deal that we could make it. So, here we are. You were a student once, as I was, and maybe that’s where we could start, a little bit more about your background. You grew up in Hawaii, I’m guessing from that memory of yours, tell us a little bit about where you grew up and what that was like.

Kate Knutson:
Yeah. Well, so I have a circuitous journey. My parents are both Minnesotans and was born in Minnesota and my parents moved to Hawaii when I was about two. So, I grew up in Hawaii and went to high school there, graduated from high school and it’s hard, people say, “Well, what was it like growing up in Hawaii?” And I say, “Well, it’s like growing up anywhere.” Right?

Greg Kaster:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kate Knutson:
It’s very similar small town experience. I grew up on the Big Island of Hawaii, Hawaii Island, which is not Oahu, so it’s not where Honolulu is, which is when I say the Big Island, lots of people think that must be Honolulu, but it’s actually geographically a big island and it’s the island called Hawaii. And I grew up in the town of Hilo, which is on the rainy side of the island and it’s not the tourist side of the island. The island’s geography leads one side to be a lot drier and sunnier and the other side to be more tropical, rain forest.

And growing up there, it’s a really interesting environment to grow up in. I am white and so growing up in Hawaii, I was a racial and ethnic minority in most settings because Hawaii is a very racially and ethnically diverse place. And so, I’m really grateful for that experience, having grown up in that type of diverse environment and really being able to think a lot about culture and heritage and background, and learning a lot about different cultures and different backgrounds through that experience. I think it made me more attuned to racial dynamics than many people that I maybe went to college with, when I went to college on the mainland in Oregon, and has given me a lifelong interest in thinking about how power and privilege plays out in terms of race and ethnicity.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. That makes great sense to me. I’ve only been there … My wife, Katie, and I were there once as tourists and only on well, the other side of Honolulu, we were at some Marriott, but we explored that island. We were only on that island. And wow, the diversity is incredible. I joked, I got Obama’s style, and I felt so relaxed about it there. But also, we could see, I mean, there were great inequities along with that really exciting, vibrant diversity. What brought your parents there from Minnesota? Was it work or what was it?

Kate Knutson:
No, it was a combination of, I think, weather and lifestyle choices in the late ’70s, early ’80s. Hawaii was a really nice place to be if you were into an alternative lifestyle.

Greg Kaster:
Got it.

Kate Knutson:
Yep.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. That’s great. Also, I love how you pronounce the name, not-

Kate Knutson:
There’s an ‘okina, it’s called an ‘okina, it’s like a backwards apostrophe mark and it’s in between the two Is.

Greg Kaster:
Yes, I’ve seen that.

Kate Knutson:
And so, when you see an ‘okina in Hawaiian writing, it means you take a break and pronounce both of those vowels separately.

Greg Kaster:
Well, you do it well, and I’m not going to attempt it [crosstalk 00:17:37].

Kate Knutson:
You don’t have. That’s okay.

Greg Kaster:
Okay. So, from there you went to Linfield … Is it Linfield University now, maybe?

Kate Knutson:
It’s Linfield University now. It was Linfield College when I was there and started in 1995.

Greg Kaster:
What brought you there? Were you in search of a liberal arts college? What was it about Linfield that attracted you?

Kate Knutson:
Well, I know on this podcast you often talk about just fate and happy accidents that happen.

Greg Kaster:
Right. Yes.

Kate Knutson:
It was also a happy accident that happened. I was a really good student in high school. I went to a Catholic high school and it was very small. My graduating class was about 40 students and I knew I was going to go to college and I think I knew that I wanted a smaller college. So, I was looking at small colleges. I didn’t know really what liberal arts meant. I didn’t really have a framework at all for college. Hawaii is … I don’t know how to say this in a way that’s not insulting, but it’s a different kind of culture and so I grew up with education being valued, but there wasn’t the culture of everybody has a college degree, that I pick up on in Minnesota as much.

And so, I honestly didn’t have any idea. I didn’t know what a BA or a BS, I didn’t know any of those, what those degree terms meant. I didn’t know what a liberal arts college was. We had some college recruiters come through and Linfield had recruited a lot of students from Hawaii over the years. Lots of students from Hawaii that go to college, actually go to the West Coast. So, Oregon, Washington, California are big places for Hawaii kids who go to the mainland for college. And the Linfield recruiters came to my high school, they were actually football recruiters and our school didn’t have a football team. So, I like to say that they accidentally came to my high school and they accidentally recruited me because they were looking for football players and they got me instead.

Greg Kaster:
That’s a great story.

Kate Knutson:
So, I did not visit. We didn’t do college tours. Summer around Gustavus is constant high school kids and their parents on college tours. They’re all seeing all the colleges. I didn’t tour a single college except for the University of Hawaii branch in my hometown, UH Hilo. And aside from that, I didn’t go to any other colleges. And so, Linfield offered me the best financial aid package and they were a small-ish college. And one of my classmates decided that she would also go there because she was going to be a cheerleader and so they had offered her a scholarship. And so, there was going to be another person. And so, I said, yes.

And when I left for college I packed a duffle bag and my parents sent me off, put me in the airport, and I flew to … Actually, the two of us from my high school flew there. And it was about two weeks before the semester started because she had to be there early for cheerleading tryouts. And the campus activities director from the college came up to the airport and pick the two of us up and drove us to the college. And that was it.

Greg Kaster:
That’s so funny.

Kate Knutson:
I unpacked my duffel bags. The next day, I walked two miles to the Walmart in town and I bought a bike and a laundry basket and I filled it with all the things that I needed to stock a dorm room and I rode back to campus. And that was college.

Greg Kaster:
That’s great. Yeah, that’s great. My mother went to a two year teacher’s college. My dad did not attend college. Looking back on it, I don’t think I knew what a BA was and I certainly didn’t visit any colleges. I chose Northern Illinois because it was not too far from home, but far enough. And because I think my memory is all my friends were going to the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana, and I wanted to be different. And lo and behold another happy accident, it turned out it had this fabulous history department, not why I went there, and things turned out well, as they did for you. You obviously got a great education there. Were you already thinking about majoring in political science, was that even on the horizon at that point, or did that happen gradually?

Kate Knutson:
So, I was planning on being a lawyer, because high school students, that’s what you know. You’re a doctor or a lawyer or a teacher. And I was going to be a lawyer. I had had two experiences in high school where I got to go to Washington DC.

Greg Kaster:
That’s really good.

Kate Knutson:
One was through a week long program for high school students called Presidential Classroom and they take high school students from all over the country and you go to Washington for a week and they set up meetings with different speakers and tours of Washington DC. And so, I had done that and really loved it. And then, the second opportunity was a essay contest, the State National Guard ran an essay contest where you had to write about World War Two. And so, I wrote an essay about the role of women and racial minorities in World War Two, and I won this essay contest.

Greg Kaster:
Oh, great.

Kate Knutson:
And so, they took the three winners from the state to Washington DC for a week and had another tour, which was really, really interesting because that was such a small group. And since it was the National Guard, we got to go to the Pentagon and we got to have all of these meetings.

Greg Kaster:
Oh, that’s neat.

Kate Knutson:
I have a picture with representative Patsy Mink from when I was in high school and she’s the first Asian American woman to serve in Congress.

Greg Kaster:
That’s fantastic.

Kate Knutson:
And was instrumental in Title Nine legislation and she’s just an amazing woman. And I have this picture of me in high school wearing shorts to meet her, which is mortifying to me now, but it was really wonderful. I had this interest in politics and government really, not so much electoral politics, but government, but I wanted to be a lawyer. And so, I was going to be a history and English major. And then in my first semester at Linfield, I took a course, my US Government course, and my professor was just outstanding. He was brilliant and terrifying. I don’t model myself on him at all as a teacher, because he really was just totally intimidating and terrifying.

Greg Kaster:
I was going to say, you are definitely not terrifying [crosstalk 00:24:56].

Kate Knutson:
I’m not that, no. There was another professor there that ended up being my mentor and I’m much more like her. But Howard Leister was just this really incredible, knowledgeable professor, and I learned so much. I remember, I would just take pages and pages of notes in his class and then I would go back to my dorm room and I’d reorganize my notes and rewrite them. And actually, he would come in and he didn’t speak from notes, he would just come in and lecture for 50 minutes. He’s the old school type.
And one of the things that has stuck with me to this day, I think, one of the reasons why I was so drawn to him is one day I remember him coming into class and saying, “The last time we met, I told you this and that was wrong, and here’s the correct piece of information.” And I remember being so amazed by his humility to be able to say, “I told you something wrong and I’m going to correct it.” And we would never would have ever in a million years known that on our own.

Greg Kaster:
Right. That’s a powerful, powerful moment and lesson.

Kate Knutson:
It was really powerful and I think it increased my respect for him so much. And like I said, I was terrified of him, I decided to be a political science major. I asked him to be my advisor because I figured if I could handle him, I could handle anything. And yeah, I think I took one history class. I’m sorry, Greg.

Greg Kaster:
No, it’s okay. [inaudible 00:26:37] story.

Kate Knutson:
And just a couple of English classes.

Greg Kaster:
That’s a great story. I love it. And it’s just another reminder of how powerful an impact professors, teachers, can have for good or bad, or somewhere in between. Yeah. I love that. And I think it’s important for students, especially listening prospective students, you don’t have to have everything all figured out in advance, as I’ve said many times on this podcast. And be open to what you’re hearing, what you’re experiencing. I mean, you wonder, what if you hadn’t taken the course with him, right?

Kate Knutson:
Right.

Greg Kaster:
How things might’ve been, maybe you would have been a history major, who knows.

Kate Knutson:
I might’ve found it anyway at some point, because I did have those interests, but yeah.

Greg Kaster:
Well, having gone to DC … And my brother got to go, I don’t know if it was that program, the Presidential, whatever it was called. He did go in high school and I remember being so envious. And then, I didn’t go to DC until I was in graduate school and just had … I mean, it was magical. I just fell in love with the city and love going there still. And I wonder sometimes, had I gone at a younger age, maybe I would’ve majored in political science.

Kate Knutson:
It’s never too late, Greg. You can do it over.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. It’s never too late. Because I love constitutional history and government. Anyway, so you majored in poli-sci and then on to the University of Washington.

Kate Knutson:
And I can’t forget, I also majored in sociology.

Greg Kaster:
Oh, I didn’t know that.

Kate Knutson:
Yep. I had a double major.

Greg Kaster:
That’s a good combo.

Kate Knutson:
It was a great combo and then I had a minor in communication. And so, when I was finishing up … And all of my work, if you look at it, is at that nexus of political science, sociology, and communication.

Greg Kaster:
Yes. Absolutely. Taking the words out of my mouth.

Kate Knutson:
I have a really hard time even disentangling them sometimes. And as I was finishing up my time at Linfield, I really wasn’t sure. I knew I wanted to continue and go on to a PhD program, but I didn’t know if it was going to be a PhD in political science, or sociology, or communication studies, because I did have such interest in all of them. And ultimately, I decided on political science because I thought it would be … For me, it was easier to do the pieces of sociology and comm studies that I am drawn to, through the lens of political science than it was the other ways.

Greg Kaster:
Through poli-sci. Yeah.

Kate Knutson:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. That’s cool. Then, were you already interested in the issue or the topic of religion and politics as a … What was your dissertation about at Washington?

Kate Knutson:
Yep. So, my dissertation at Washington was about religion and politics and I went into grad school with that. I started with more of an interest in gender and politics, and then, I guess my research and things started to emerge more. And really what it is, is it’s identity. How do people’s personal aspects of identity influence the way in which people in organizations interact in politics. And so, for me, I think it was a little bit of like, what are parts of my identity that are important and how do those play out in politics? And so, that’s why gender was first for me, as the lens that I was interested in. Religion came next.
I read a really old book called Religion on Capitol Hill, when I was an undergrad. And I was like, “Oh.” And for me, my faith, my religious background is really important to me, an important part of my identity. And so, that was the next lens. And then I think as I started more reflecting on my experience growing up in Hawaii and then the differences between Hawaii culture and the West Coast and seeing some of those play out, then race also became a really salient aspect in terms of looking at it.

Greg Kaster:
That’s all very interesting to me. Could you, if you don’t mind, say a little bit more about your own religious background, I don’t know much about that, and how that impacted, still impacts I suppose, your work.

Kate Knutson:
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I grew up with a very mixed religious background, so I grew up going to an Evangelical church and a Catholic high school. And I personally am more aligned, I think with Evangelical religious tradition, although that carries with it a lot of political connotations now that are really challenging. But I think from a pretty young age, my faith has been a really central part of my identity. I’ve had a really clear sense of calling and purpose on my life, that God has protected me through some really challenging situations and guided me and created opportunities that I’ve walked into. And I think I’ve seen people’s faith used in really positive ways and also really harmful ways. And understanding some of how that plays out in the political realm has always been really interesting to me.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. That’s interesting. I didn’t know that. So, your parents were Evangelicals or were they…

Kate Knutson:
No, I mean, my mom attended an Evangelical church for a while. No. I mean, I don’t really know a lot about her personal faith right now, but she’s not an active church-goer. My dad is Catholic and comes from a big Catholic family.

Greg Kaster:
Okay. Yeah. When you said you went to a Catholic school, I was just assuming your parents were Catholic.

Kate Knutson:
No.

Greg Kaster:
Well, that’s really interesting. So, does your own religious identity, does that … I mean, I suppose it can facilitate your research in some ways, right, or not?

Kate Knutson:
Yeah. I mean, it certainly motivates a lot of my research questions. So, one of my very earliest publications is about the under-representation of religious liberal advocacy groups. So, looking at the number of Americans who identify as religious and politically liberal, and then looking at the advocacy group universe and trying to understand this disproportionate balance of power, right? Where are the liberal Christian advocacy groups?

And then, my dissertation was looking at how religious advocacy groups talk about political issues, the rhetoric that they use, the language that they use, and how issues come to be framed in media coverage, through the lenses that are coming in most dominantly from the religious right. And so, the religious left is trying to play a role in these conversations, but not getting as much traction. And so, my dissertation was really looking at how that happened and why that happened, and what the implications of that were. And then, one of my first projects at Gustavus, when I was at Gustavus, was then looking at this interfaith religious advocacy group in Minnesota called the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, which is the subject of the book that I wrote, that you mentioned.

Greg Kaster:
Of your book. Yeah.

Kate Knutson:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, it’s all tied together there. And I don’t think I answered the question that you started with.

Greg Kaster:
No, you did. You did, you did, you absolutely did. No, you did. And what you just said is all incredibly important to me. A couple of just observations. One, I always say, there’s no way to understand US history without understanding religion.

Kate Knutson:
Correct.

Greg Kaster:
Whatever we want to say about the church and state, and we’re a secular country, excuse me, religion is everywhere in language. And when I was studying organized working men in the 19th century, white working men, it took me a long time to realize oh my God, their rhetoric is just, it’s saturated with Evangelical tropes, we could say today, themes and even language. And I remember consulting a then colleague in the religion department at Gustavus, wanted him to help me understand some of this. When I realized, my God, they’re quoting the Bible and I’m not picking up on that.

Kate Knutson:
Right.

Greg Kaster:
The one Bible class I had in college helped, Bible was literature helped a little bit. Anyway. So, there’s just no way. And I love our colleague, Sarah Ruble, for that reason, because she gets at that as a historian and as a person of faith also. The other thing you’re saying that I think is incredibly important to stress is that point about white liberal or … I’ll say white for now, liberal Christians, or Evangelicals, I mean, we tend to lump … We, the popular culture or popular opinion and me, I think, lump Evangelicals into this homogenous group, which is not the case, right? I mean, they’re not all white conservatives, there are liberal Evangelical Christians. You know much more about this than I do, but I think that’s really important. And so, you mentioned, you look at how the media framed it as primarily conservative. Why?

What did you conclude about why the media did that or how that came about?

Kate Knutson:
Yeah, I think there are a few factors. One is just, I’m going to use the term media bias and I don’t mean that in the way that we think of today as liberal and conservative bias, but just in terms of Lance Bennett’s conception of biases of the media. So, of the news production process. There are some, I think you might call them heuristics or shortcuts that journalists and news organizations use when they’re creating news, when they’re reporting on stories. And so, just some of those shortcuts that aren’t intentionally trying to leave liberal Christians out of the story, but for example, one of the usual trends of news coverage is, you want to cover both sides of the story. And so, both sides implies that there are two sides. So, you have your religious side and you have your non-religious side, right?

Greg Kaster:
Right.

Kate Knutson:
And so, it becomes much more complicated if you say, there’s not just both sides to this story because the religious side isn’t unified, there are multiple religious viewpoints here. And so, nothing in that is intentionally trying to leave out the voices of liberal Christians. It’s simply the result of the news production process, which is, we need to find somebody to speak for both sides of this issue so that we can put their quote in, and that’s what we’ll have. And journalists who are on a time schedule and have to have this constant production of news, they’re going to go to their usual players and who are going to have things that are quotable, statements that are quotable, and have the resources and production to package that news in a way that is really easily digestible by news organizations that have made a lot of cuts to journalism, right? In order to be more profitable.

Greg Kaster:
Yes.

Kate Knutson:
So, the result, I don’t ascribe that to any anti-religious bias or any type of intentional discrimination against religious voices. I think it has much more to do with the nature of the news cycle and even the nature of how public issues get discussed. Right?

Greg Kaster:
Yes. Right.

Kate Knutson:
That there’s always the two sides to an issue, is the default.

Greg Kaster:
That’s right. Yeah, that’s what I’m going to say. That’s right, it’s not just around religion or religious issues, it’s across the board that both sides … There are two sides. Which we resist as professors. [inaudible 00:39:29]. Yeah. I think that’s really helpful and makes a lot of sense. I remember once someone, maybe it was the journalist Alexander Cockburn, referring to the old MacNeil Lehrer PBS, which I love, the news hours, “Tweedledum and Tweedledee have this point of view and then the opposite point of view.” And that was it, it’s very predictable, formulaic, and really not that illuminating in the end. You mentioned the joint … What is it called, the Joint Legislative Action Coalition?

Kate Knutson:
The Joint Religious Legislative Coalition.

Greg Kaster:
Religious Coalition.

Kate Knutson:
It’s a mouthful.

Greg Kaster:
In Minnesota. Yeah. Which I just find, I knew nothing about until looking at your book. Tell us a little bit more about how you came to do that research and what your findings are in your book.

Kate Knutson:
Right. So, I stumbled across it. I was actually reading an article that was written by my colleague, Chris Gilbert, about, I don’t know, the 2004 election maybe, or something in Minnesota, because he’s an expert on Minnesota politics. And he had just, it was just an aside, mentioned in his chapter, and because of my interest in religion, and I was newer in Minnesota and recognizing that I needed … Most of my research had been based in Washington DC. So, they’re focused on national interest groups. And I knew that I wanted to also have something that was a line of research that was more local. And so, it just piqued my interest. I Googled it. I’d never heard of this organization, I threw it into a Google search and came back with this website for this organization.

It’s four organizations that are members of the JRLC and so it’s the Minnesota Council of Churches, which represents most of the Protestant mainline denominations. So, the ELCA, which Gustavus is part of. Presbyterian Church, Episcopalian. So, that’s the body that represents mainline Protestants in Minnesota. The second organization is the Catholic Conference of Minnesota, which represents, it’s one of the organizing bodies of the Catholic church. The Jewish Community Relations Council, so they represent many different Jewish synagogues in Minnesota. And then the newest member of the organization is the Islamic Center of Minnesota. So, these four organizations are all equal members of the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition. And at the time of my research, they each sent four members from each of those organizations to serve on the JRLC’s board of directors.

And the organization was actually created, 1969 was when it founded, and 1971 was their first legislative session that they had a legislative program, a list of goals. And so, it’s a really interesting period in time, in history, in the 1960s, obviously a lot of it was connecting out of the civil rights movement and anti-war movement was picking up in there. But it’s really close in historical time, to a time when Catholics and Protestants did not ever work together, not to mention in politics. And so for me, what captured my attention was really just that interesting story of how did something like this come into being at a time where you really didn’t have a lot of interfaith work happening? How do they work? How does this actually work, to have Jews and Muslims and Catholics and Protestants in the same room and advocating for issues.

Greg Kaster:
That’s what I’m thinking.

Kate Knutson:
And to have that sustained over 50 years is really amazing. And in my research, I wasn’t able to find any other statewide interfaith organizations that had lasted, that had existed like this one or had lasted.

Greg Kaster:
Wow.

Kate Knutson:
And so, I knew that there was something really interesting about it, that it could teach us something about how coalitions form. And when we talk about coalitions, oftentimes we talk about strange bedfellows. And these all have religion as their grounding force, but there’s a lot of differences between those groups. So, how do they navigate those differences and how effective are they? Do they really do anything?

Greg Kaster:
Right. So, this work can tell us not just about religious advocacy, religious coalition advocacy, but coalitions generally, right, beyond just-

Kate Knutson:
Yep. Absolutely.

Greg Kaster:
It’s so cool. So, ’69. Wow. And then, so it sounds like this is really one of the … If not the earliest, it’s the most long lasting, if I’m hearing you correctly. And I love also, especially for student listeners, how you came to the topic, because as my colleague, David Obermiller likes to say, “So much of research is serendipity.” Not only what you come across as you’re researching, that you didn’t know was there, but just even how you come upon a topic, that’s just fantastic. I love it. Reading Chris’s writing, mention at least, of that organization, which again, I had not heard of, I didn’t know anything about. I mean, is it too simple to say it’s a lobbying group basically?

Kate Knutson:
Yep. I mean, I would define it as either an interest group and that’s the framework that we come at it, or I like the term advocacy group, but yes, it’s a professional advocacy group. So, all that they do, their main function is to represent the viewpoints of their four member organizations at the legislature. And they work exclusively on state issues. So, they don’t lobby the national government at all, they’re really just focused on what’s happening in Minnesota. And their policy programs, so the issues that they care about, are a list of issues that are set by those four members. So, all four of those organizational members, the Council of Churches, the Catholic Conference, Jewish Community Relations Council, and the Islamic Center, they all four have to agree on something before it’s added to their legislative agenda.
And so, what they do is they sit down and they say, “Where is the common ground? What are the issues where we can share resources to try and influence policy in a way that we think does good?” And then, they agree to disagree on the things that they disagree about. So, abortion and politics, the Catholic Conference is way out on front on that and the Minnesota Council of Churches does not want any part of that. But if you’re talking about housing assistance for low-income people or childcare assistance, or issues of economic fairness, those are things where those four organizations can come together and they share resources. And then, they have a full-time lobbyist basically, that they employ, who tries to help shape information.

Greg Kaster:
So, you anticipated, I was going to ask you about an issue like abortion or same-sex marriage even. [inaudible 00:47:32] especially on abortion, there’d be such differences. But that’s extremely interesting. I mean, first, it sounds like first they have to agree on what are the issues they’re going to pursue and then I guess, then also they’re advocating for policy, right? [crosstalk 00:47:48].

Kate Knutson:
They’re advocating for policy. Yep.

Greg Kaster:
Right. Go ahead.

Kate Knutson:
Well, one of the things that is interesting in today’s world, and I haven’t checked the news today, but we’re hurtling in Minnesota, toward a government shutdown.

Greg Kaster:
Yes. Yes.

Kate Knutson:
Hopefully we’ll be able to avoid it. But when I was doing the research for this, it was right around the time of the 2011 government shutdown.

Greg Kaster:
Yes, I remember it. That’s right. Yeah.

Kate Knutson:
Which at the time, was the longest state government shutdown in US history. And so, I have the book situated in that time period because one, the government was shutting down, Dayton’s fight with the legislature was over tax-

Greg Kaster:
Governor Dayton.

Kate Knutson:
Governor Dayton. Yeah. Sorry. It was over tax fairness. So, to what extent are the wealthy Minnesotans paying their fair share? And the way that we measure fair share is through this Tax Incidence Study that the Minnesota Department of Revenue is required by law to conduct every two years, which basically says, what do people at each decile of income pay proportionally in taxes? So, that you can compare, what percentage of taxes do the wealthiest Minnesotans pay versus the least wealthy Minnesotans? And the reason why the Department of Revenue is required to create this Tax Incidence Study every two years is because the JRLC pushed for that to happen in 1990.

They were the ones who designed this legislation for a Tax Incidence Study and got it passed through the legislature. And because of their advocacy, they wanted to create a measure to be able to see whether taxes were fair, were being fairly paid by people at different levels of income. And so, I thought it was just really interesting at the time to think about, we’re using this rubric for deciding whether or not taxes are fair, that was created by this organization a decade before.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. That’s amazing. Which I certainly didn’t know.

Kate Knutson:
Or two decades before, I should say.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. I mean, most people wouldn’t know. I mean, how well-known is this organization? Not that they try to be-

Kate Knutson:
Oh, not well-known at all.

Greg Kaster:
I mean, is that partly their doing or?

Kate Knutson:
No, I think it’s just, it’s hard to get media traction and awareness. I think people at the legislature know them, they had an executive director for many years who was really well-connected at the legislature and really well-respected. And so, I think some people know them. Yeah. But it’s not widely … It’s not like the Christian Coalition or the Family Research Council or things that lots of people know about.

Greg Kaster:
And is it fair to say or accurate to say, they are on the liberal side of policy debates?

Kate Knutson:
Yes and no, because their member organizations are not necessarily liberal, but the policies that they take often are a little bit more on the progressive side of things, but-

Greg Kaster:
And do they see … Oh, go ahead.

Kate Knutson:
Oh, go ahead. I was going to say, they had a strong opposition to gambling, to parimutuel betting for a long time. So, I’m not sure. Some things you just, how do you classify that? Is that conservative or liberal?

Greg Kaster:
I’m trying to think about how religion plays into their positions. I mean, are they framing these issues in explicitly, overtly moral terms or not?

Kate Knutson:
Yep. Yep. Absolutely. They’re drawing from their own religious traditions, scriptures and things that they’re using, religious texts, and that’s how they justify these positions.

Greg Kaster:
Just thinking about this and partly in preparing for our conversation, there’s a part of this that leaves me … I mean, I find it fascinating and interesting. It’s incredibly important to know about it, but it also leaves me a little uneasy as I think about what should be the influence of religion in politics. And I don’t have an answer, I’m just thinking out loud here. Have you thought more about that as a result of your work on this organization and come to any kind of position or conclusions?

Kate Knutson:
I mean, I believe that it is important for people to be able to bring their worldviews into their political decision-making and certainly so on an individual level, right? So, as an individual voter, for example, or an individual citizen activist, if my faith is really important to me, our Constitution protects my right to be able to speak that and to advocate for that. It gets a little more tricky anytime government is doing things that seem to establish the primacy of one religious group over another. And in those cases, I’m very glad that we have often had a court system that has said, “No, you can’t set up a system so that one religious group is advantaged over another.”

But in terms of, does religion have a legitimate role to play in the public square? I would say it absolutely does, because it’s a part of identity. And in the same way that, does my gender or my sexual orientation or my race or ethnicity, can I bring that to bear when I’m making political decisions? I would say, yes, absolutely. It shapes who you are. It shapes your place in the world and how others perceive you. So, I think that there’s a legitimate role for that.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. That’s a thoughtful answer and makes a lot of sense. And certainly US history bears that out. I mean, the role of just thinking about reform movements, abolitionism, civil rights, of course, but the role of religion, religion in the American revolution, I mean, on and on, it’s everywhere, has been everywhere. And this group is successful, it sounds like, right? I mean, you gave that one example. They wouldn’t be around, I guess, they’ve been around a long time, they must have chalked up some real successes in those years.

Kate Knutson:
I mean, I think it ebbs and flows, as with most advocacy groups. There’s times of strong influence and times where it’s a little bit less influential. It’s hard to measure influence. I mean, anytime my students are doing research papers where they’re trying to measure influence, they’ll find out really quickly, it’s a very squishy concept to measure. How do you know that they were the influencing factor? And what does it mean to influence? So, I would say on the whole, I would describe them as being effective in carrying out their mission on some issues.

Greg Kaster:
Effective. Yeah, that’s a better word. Yeah. That makes sense. It’s so interesting. And just again, knew nothing about it, so everyone should buy your book and read it. Oh, by the way, it’s so well-written.

Kate Knutson:
Thank you.

Greg Kaster:
I think one reviewer said something like, “It’s engaging and accessible.” Which is true. So, people should not be afraid that they’re going to be encountering some dry, political science stuff, no offense.

Kate Knutson:
I was trying really hard to make it accessible to a non-expert audience.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah, you did.

Kate Knutson:
So, I don’t assume that anybody is a political scientist who’s reading it.

Greg Kaster:
No, you did. From literally the first sentence. It’s fun, actually. It’s fun and interesting. And so, congrats on that. And paperback. Do paperback since what, 2015 or something? Do you assign it? Do you assign your own book? Have you done that? [crosstalk 00:55:57].

Kate Knutson:
When I started writing it, it was for the purpose of assigning it and then I don’t have the guts to actually assign it in one of my classes.

Greg Kaster:
Well, maybe [crosstalk 00:56:05].

Kate Knutson:
No, I’ve never assigned it.

Greg Kaster:
Okay. Well, your colleagues in and outside the department can do that.

Kate Knutson:
Right.

Greg Kaster:
In the time remaining, I want to switch a little bit from that work to teaching itself. And I wonder what your thoughts are about effective teaching at a place like Gustavus? I did not attend a liberal arts college. My wife Kate went to Bard College, so she did. Well, you’d said you didn’t know what the … I didn’t know, what did liberal arts mean? I had no idea really until I came to Gustavus, hadn’t thought that much about it. I knew small college. I knew I wanted to teach at a small college, but that didn’t really relate in my mind to something called the liberal arts. But just curious about your thoughts about what makes for effective teaching, especially at a liberal arts college like Gustavus, because obviously you are an effective teacher.

Kate Knutson:
Well, what makes for effective teaching? I mean, I think one thing that is really important is love for our subject and I think students pick that up really easily-

Greg Kaster:
Yes, yes, yes.

Kate Knutson:
… if we care about it.

Greg Kaster:
Yes.

Kate Knutson:
I think it’s part of why students enjoy taking a class like Analyzing Politics, which can be kind of a boring class. It’s about the scientific study of politics. It’s really our research methods class. But I try and teach it in a way that is interesting to me and I think students pick up on that.

Greg Kaster:
Yes. Absolutely.

Kate Knutson:
And I really am … I mean, the things that I talk about in class are things that are interesting to me. And my classes change, every year, I change my classes, sometimes a totally new set of readings, as I read new things, I’m like, “Oh, I want to talk about this with students.” And so, I think students pick up on that and that is important to effective teaching. I think one thing that I have gotten better at in years has been really communicating the educational process and that students see me as part of a group of learners. So, I’m part of a community of learners with them. I am learning things, they’re learning things, we’re learning things together.

Greg Kaster:
Right. Together.

Kate Knutson:
I don’t have all the answers.

Greg Kaster:
That’s right.

Kate Knutson:
I’m not an old school, sage on the stage type of professor. I rarely lecture. I’ve started doing it a little bit more as I’ve realized students need a little bit of background information that I can give them in a short lecture and then we can do some more exploratory things. But I think probably one of the things that maybe makes me a good teacher is that I’m a good learner. I’m good at thinking about what are questions that are interesting to me, and then what do I need to do to find out about those? And so, I can model that and do that alongside of my students. And I really enjoy doing that. I love the freedom of teaching at a place like Gustavus, where I really can be creative. And my colleagues in my department are fantastic and they’re all really wonderful teachers and scholars.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah, you have a great department.

Kate Knutson:
I work in a really exceptional department, I’ll just say that.

Greg Kaster:
You do. You do.

Kate Knutson:
And there is no pressure in my department that we all do things the same way. I mean, I think the students will say we are all very, very different. We have very different approaches and I love that type of freedom to be able to try things out and if they work, great, and if they don’t, I try something else out and that’s really an exciting environment to work in.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. Boy, like you, I mean, I love what I do. I’m interested … I couldn’t do it. But I never really thought about it until I started reading student feedback, especially at Gustavus, and thinking about it. Because the common thread, again and again, passionate, interested, loves … And yeah, of course I do, or I wouldn’t be doing this. But you’re right, that first point you made, I think that really is … It may seem obvious and not that important, but it’s incredibly important because students, boy, do they pick up on that and they’re sensitive to that.

And then the point about being able to be learning with the students, to convey that, is exactly right. So, often I’ll say to the students and it’s true, “I am reading this with you for the first time.” Right? I’m maybe a couple of pages ahead of you, if that, so we’re in this together, learning, you had a great phrase there about, that your teaching is also learning. And the third point too, I couldn’t agree more. I mean, you could be describing my own department. I feel so fortunate where … And Gustavus too. I mean, some schools, if I’d said, “Well, I want to start a podcast.” They’d say, “Yeah. Well, good luck with that.” It wouldn’t be valued. So, we’re lucky. I think it’s a special … Liberal arts colleges are special and Gustavus is special among those, I would say. What about political science itself, what’s your pitch for that as a major or as a field of study?

Kate Knutson:
I love political science as a field of study. We’re a really broad field and we’re a pretty interdisciplinary field as well. So, we span from, my side of the house is the US Government side of things. So, I teach US public policy courses and US Congress advocacy groups in the US politics. But international politics is another dimension of what we do. And so, looking at how do different countries interact with each other? War, preventing war, responding to global challenges like migration and climate change, and then thinking about governments, how governments operate in other contexts. So, that’s called comparative politics, right?

So, I know what government looks like in the United States, but what about in China or Russia or Malawi or anywhere else in the world? And then, we also have a branch that’s political theory and law. So, thinking about the bigger questions of justice and fairness and equality, and what do those mean and what have those looked like historically? So, political science is just such a broad discipline that looks at history and current events and how individuals interact and how organizations and institutions interact and how countries interact. And so, there’s a lot there for a lot of different people. And that brings in really interesting sets of students who have different kinds of topics that they’re interested in. I think more than ever, it’s an important time to be an engaged member of society.

Greg Kaster:
Right. Oh, no kidding.

Kate Knutson:
And so, to have a sense of what’s going on in the world, of how to evaluate information and pick apart what’s real versus what’s not. I talked about knowing issues, not only what’s happening right now, but knowing their histories because if you’re looking at what’s happening right now with voting restrictions and you just look at it from a current timeframe, you’re really missing out on a lot of understanding of what’s happening there. Because if you haven’t thought about what these current voting restrictions look like in comparison to Jim Crow laws, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, right? If you don’t understand, how did that work in that time period and how is that happening today? You’re really not going to understand why it’s a big deal.

Greg Kaster:
[crosstalk 01:04:37].

Kate Knutson:
Why are people protesting?

Greg Kaster:
You know I’m ecstatic listening to that. I mean, you’re speaking to a historian. It’s absolutely true.

Kate Knutson:
It is.

Greg Kaster:
In fact, in my recent US course which I’m teaching, I’m assigning Carol Anderson’s book, is it, One Person, No Vote.

Kate Knutson:
Uh-huh (affirmative).

Greg Kaster:
Because the first chapter just lays out that history. Absolutely true. All of that is so true. And I couldn’t agree more. So often it seems … Just take the pandemic, it seems like, all right, the science is in fact there. It’s not the science, it’s the politics or the political will, or the lack of political will. And so many political … And maybe this coalition you study in Minnesota is an example of people working together across differences, which God knows we need. This leads me to my last question, which I cannot let you go without posing, I’m going to put you on the spot here. The filibuster, do you have a position on the filibuster? Yes, no?

Kate Knutson:
Yep. I have changed my position on the filibuster reluctantly and recently. And I’ll say, I would classify myself, I’m an institutionalist, right? I think that the framers set up a really clever system of government that has withstood a lot of challenges over many, many years. And so, I’m kind of old school on that, but the filibuster really isn’t old school, the filibuster wasn’t part of the original Constitution.

Greg Kaster:
Right. That’s exactly right.

Kate Knutson:
Yeah. So, my traditionalist part has always been, oh, what we have, we don’t change it. But I think that thinking more critically, and this is exactly what we’re talking about, which is-

Greg Kaster:
Yes, history.

Kate Knutson:
… if you don’t understand the history of it-

Greg Kaster:
That’s right.

Kate Knutson:
… and how it was used to prevent civil rights legislation from being passed and really being developed for that particular purpose. And as I look more at the misrepresentation that’s happening in the Senate, so in the Senate, of course, everybody remembers from their US Government course, every state gets two senators regardless of their population. And so, you have a really skewed balance of power where the most populous states, California and New York and Texas and Florida, they have the same number of senators as Wyoming.

Greg Kaster:
Right. It seems crazy.

Kate Knutson:
And so, that means that a small number of senators can really just exert their will that’s contrary to the majority will of the people because of how that’s-

Greg Kaster:
Yes. It feels minoritarian politics or government.

Kate Knutson:
Yes. And there are some elements of that, right? We want some of that, right? We don’t want the tyranny of the majority.

Greg Kaster:
Right. No. Right.

Kate Knutson:
If we read your Federalist Papers, right?

Greg Kaster:
That’s right. Yeah.

Kate Knutson:
… there was great fear of that.

Greg Kaster:
Yes.

Kate Knutson:
But the Congress, there is more of a majoritarian kind of … We get the protection against the tyranny of majority through the court system, in particular. And I think that in Congress, there’s a desire to have more of a sense of representation. And so, I think just knowing the history of that, the changes that have been made and the way in which it’s been weaponized. And then, the fact that as an institutionalist, if you’re going to do a filibuster, I want you to have to do a filibuster.

Greg Kaster:
Well, yes.

Kate Knutson:
You’re going to go out there and talk.

Greg Kaster:
No one’s going to-

Kate Knutson:
And the fact that they don’t have to do that anymore. Right?

Greg Kaster:
Exactly.

Kate Knutson:
You can do these silent filibusters where you just say, “No, I’m not going to … I would do a filibuster,” but you don’t have to prove it.

Greg Kaster:
Thank you. That’s right.

Kate Knutson:
Those have shifted me all into the position of saying, I think it’s time for an end to the filibuster.

Greg Kaster:
That’s where I’m at.

Kate Knutson:
And I wouldn’t have said that 10 years ago, so that’s changed.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah. I mean, I have a bit of that institutionalist in me, but I probably more readily came to that position, it’s got to go. Whether it will go, I don’t know. But for all the reasons you stated … The only thing about the filibuster people may not know, was in pre-Civil War, used against anti-slavery activism and policy and abolitionism. So, the filibuster itself, I think, is anything but democratic. And yes, the fact that they don’t even have to really filibuster anymore is ridiculous.

Kate Knutson:
They don’t have to filibuster, I know.

Greg Kaster:
Right. It’s too easy.

Kate Knutson:
Nobody’s reading the phone book.

Greg Kaster:
Yes. Yes. I have a favorite memory from high school of, I guess, a social studies teacher who was teaching us about the filibuster and how it was done. And then was, really to those of us paying attention, urging us to filibuster him, to basically stop class. Which some of us then did, and we just began reading, probably reading … We didn’t have a phone book, reading from the textbook, I suppose, word for word, and then passing it on. I’ll never forget that. Anyway, this has been great fun, Kate, thank you so much. Not just fun, but also incredibly interesting. I really appreciate it. Look, you’re not on leave in the fall, are you?

Kate Knutson:
Nope. I am back at it in the fall.

Greg Kaster:
[crosstalk 01:10:13].

Kate Knutson:
Looking forward to it.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah, me too. And I will be consulting you about how to comment online and carry on this conversation. So, much appreciated, take good care and best of luck with all your … I know you’re continuing, you’re doing some more … You’re trying to write a history of the legislative group, is that right?

Kate Knutson:
No, I’m actually working on a project with child welfare policy in the State of Minnesota. So, looking at the history of child welfare legislation, child protection legislation.

Greg Kaster:
Well, that’s another podcast. Well, that’s important.

Kate Knutson:
Yep.

Greg Kaster:
Yeah, we’ll do that another time. Well, best of luck with that. Thanks so much. Take good care.

Kate Knutson:
Great. Thanks, Greg.

Greg Kaster:
You’re welcome. Bye-bye.

Kate Knutson:
Bye-bye.

Greg Kaster:Learning for Life @ Gustavus is produced by JJ Akin and Matthew Dobosenski of the Gustavus Office of Marketing, Gustavus graduate Will Clark, class of ’20, who also provides technical expertise to the podcast, and me. The views expressed in this podcast are not necessarily those of Gustavus Adolphus College.

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 

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