LTC Community Luncheon

24 January 2020

This Tuesday, Carleton’s Learning and Teaching Center (LTC) held a community lunch in the Weitz Center for Creativity discussing the upcoming 2020 United States Census and its community impact.

At the LTC Lunch, titled “Teaching with Census Data: Experiences Across Campus,” faculty and staff shared information about and strategies for integrating the United States Census and its data into teaching college classes.

The first presenter, Debby Walser-Kuntz, the Herman and Gertrude Mosier Stark Professor of Biology and the Natural Sciences, explored the relationship between the census and public health. Data from the census, she said, is used for a host of public health purposes, including mapping rates of disease and planning the distribution of related funds.

“The data also help us work toward health equity by displaying the effects of the social determinants of health, factors such as income, education, and ethnicity,” she added.

Liz Raleigh, Associate Professor of Sociology and the Chair of Carleton’s Sociology and Anthropology Department, continued with the concept of equity, discussing more specifically the power structures underlying and permeating census data collection, such as the hierarchies present in categorizing race and ethnicity. Her presentation also explored political and safety-related reasons why people living in the United States may not participate in the census—which can and does, in turn, have an effect on local communities.

The CCCE’s Program Coordinator Kendall Clements, one of the presenters and organizers of the LTC Lunch, then elaborated more on the idea of the census’ impact on the Northfield community—specifically, that it can provide a useful look into the economic and public health situations in the area, such as the percent of students eligible for free or reduced lunch.

Clements also pointed to the possibility of Minnesota losing a House seat after the 2020 Census due to a small estimated decline in the state population.

“That’s been a big selling point for folks who might be registered voters,” she added. “The more we know about our community the better, and the better we can serve them.”

Clements is also a member of the City of Northfield’s Complete Count Committee, which works to increase awareness about and distribute resources for filling out the census to make it as accurate as possible come April.

And students, both Clements and the other speakers emphasized, are counted by the Carleton administration if they are living on campus when the census is administered in April; Northfield Option students must file together as a house.

Other speakers included Kristin Partlo, a Reference & Instruction Librarian for Social Sciences & Data, and Christina Farhart, Assistant Professor of Political Science, both of whom talked about the importance of data and mapping in analyzing census and demographic trends. Candidly embracing this information, the speakers emphasized throughout the presentation, is crucial to taking a closer look at issues and tracking successes within communities, learning from its past while still actively shaping its future.

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