MSU President's Column for Traill County Tribune

October 14, 2017 

‘Self and Society’ event will show connectedness among university students, despite distance


35811066256_836335251d_o.jpg“Self and Society: The Cell Phone Images of Northern Vietnamese Students” is the title of an event planned for Thursday, Nov. 2. It will begin at 7 p.m. in the Mayville State Campus Center Luckasen Room. The event is one part of a multi-part project which employs social media to encourage university students to identify, expand, and then cross-culturally share their awareness of their environmental and cultural place-ness.

The project is led by Dr. Aaron Kingsbury, Mayville State assistant professor of geography. As a way to expand his research profile, Dr. Kingsbury taught a class at Thai Nguyen 35719684201_2599ccfdb0_o.jpgUniversity of Agriculture and Forestry in Thai Nguyen City, Vietnam last summer. He was able to secure the teaching position in northern Vietnam through his connections at the University of Hawaii, where he earned his Ph.D.

Students of Kingsbury’s class, “The Earth: Linking Cultural and Environmental Geographies,” were enrolled in the Advanced Education Program at Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry. They identified cultural landscapes in their daily lives that they valued highest. Then, GPS-enabled cellular telephones were used to capture images of contemporary student life in northern Vietnam that best exemplified those values.

More than 1,000 of their images were uploaded to Flickr for storage and retrieval. Students then incorporated their images into self-styled ESRI StoryMaps. This is a program that combines multimedia content, narrative text, and maps. This was done to cartographically share their selected cultural landscapes and the myriad of stories they hold with their fellow classmates.

Overall, this project draws from the natural sciences, social sciences, geospatial technologies, and humanities to show that despite considerable geographic distance, university students share more proximate and universal loves, concerns, and aspirations.

A number of images were selected for an exhibition at Mayville State University. Images will be placed in various places across the campus. The public is welcome to visit the campus and view these images which will be on display Nov. 2 through Nov. 15.

Funding for the exhibition and Nov. 2 event has been provided by the Mayville State University Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the North Dakota Humanities Council. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibit do not necessarily reflect those of the North Dakota Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

We cordially invite all members of the community and beyond to participate in the Nov. 2 “Self and Society” event. The evening’s activities will include a lecture about the Vietnam War by Dr. Dalton McMahon, professor of social science and history at Mayville State. McMahon’s lecture will be followed by a discussion of contemporary northern Vietnam by Dr. Aaron Kingsbury. Six students from northern Vietnam will be available online to answer questions.

Please mark your calendar and plan to join us for what we know will be a very interesting event on Thursday, Nov. 2. For more information, please contact Dr. Aaron Kingsbury at or 701-788-4809.