Welcoming Community: Duluth Lyceum

The Lyceum Movement is a national non-profit movement with the purpose of bringing community members together to discuss important topics and learn together in a social and historical setting. Since March 2022, Northspan’s Welcoming Community program, in partnership with the Lyceum Movement, has hosted monthly Duluth Lyceum gatherings. 

The Lyceum movement began in the 19th century and at its height over 3,000 lyceums existed across the United States. The national lyceum movement is seeking to bring life back to the idea of engaging community members in conversation around topics significant on a local and national level outside of a traditional academic or government setting.  

You can browse past updates about regional Lyceum activities below. You can also learn more and participate in future lyceums here: Duluth Lyceum Events

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March 2024

Welcoming Community Partners with UMD Research Group for the March Duluth Lyceum

In 2024 the Duluth Lyceum, hosted by the Welcoming Community program, has continued to bring community members together in conversation as a place where “the community comes to think.” March was the first time the Lyceum program was hosted in partnership with another community group. This conversation centered on the theme of, “Science and Community Responsibility,” and was initiated by a research group from the University of Minnesota Duluth’s (UMD’s) community-engaged bioremediation project. The project seeks to undertake scientific investigation in a way that acknowledges the powerful role that local communities can play in shaping the science that affects them.

A panel consisting of Dr. Luke Busta, Dr. Carter Meland, Dr. Elizabeth Boileau, and moderated by Caitlin Hughes-Parry shared their experiences and perspectives related to perspectives on dominant science (what most people consider “traditional, academic science”), Indigenous Ways of Knowing, and the role that non-academic community members can play in improving both the quality and the relevancy of the science in our lives.

Community members then spent forty-five minutes in small groups with facilitated discussion and ended the night by providing a toast and commission from their groups. A few of the toasts and commissions from the night are included below.

Toast: What is something that stood out to you or a highlight from the conversation in your group?

We discussed three sisters gardening (corn, beans, squash) and how conventional science has helped us understand the traditional knowledge that was already held by the Indigenous community. These can inform each other.

Commission: What is an action you want to take as a result of the conversation?

1. We discussed the role of time, and that in order to move knowledge forward in a decolonized manner, we will consider that some things take and need more time.

2. Recommend a community reading list so we can stay informed and remove the technical language barrier.

The next Duluth Lyceum is planned for May 25, 2024, from 6:00 to 7:30 PM at the Duluth Folk School.

Register HERE!

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Past Updates

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September 2023

August 2023 Duluth Lyceum Recap: ‘How Does the Shape of Our City Shape Us?’

Welcoming Community’s most recent Duluth Lyceum was held on August 24 at the Duluth Folk School and focused on the theme: ‘How Does the Shape of Our City Shape Us?’ The evening kicked off with a keynote from Vice President of Northspan Karl Schuettler, who holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Minnesota and is a thought leader in community development. His insights on the history of Duluth’s urban planning set the stage for a lively discussion on the intricate ways in which our city’s physical landscape impacts our lives and the well-being of our community.

If you missed the live event, you can watch the recorded Lyceum video. To dive deeper into Karl Schuettler’s views on Duluth’s urban planning, read his works on The Zenith City’s Blurred Red Lines and A Duluth Neighborhood Typology.

Stay tuned for details on upcoming Duluth Lyceum events and learn more about how you can participate. We look forward to welcoming you!

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February 2023

The Duluth Lyceum Returns in a New Location!

As highlighted in our December newsletter, the Duluth Lyceum has been an ongoing initiative of the Welcoming Community programming since March of 2022. After a brief break, the Duluth Lyceum is returning in March of 2023 at a new location: the Duluth Folk School/Dovetail Cafe.  

“We have so appreciated the generosity from the owners and staff of Bent Paddle Brewing Co. in donating their meeting space and partnering with us to launch the Duluth Lyceum in 2022,” said Welcoming Community Program Coordinator, Amber Lewis. “This year, our goal is to broaden our audience for the Lyceum, and we feel the Duluth Folk School and Dovetail Cafe will help us do just that.” 

The next Duluth Lyceum is planned for March 23, 2023 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Duluth Folk School/Dovetail Cafe with the theme of Exploring Culture.

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November 2022

Final Duluth Lyceum of 2022  

Northspan’s Welcoming Community programming, in partnership with the Lyceum Movement, has hosted monthly gatherings of the Duluth Lyceum at Bent Paddle Brewing Co. since March of 2022. Bent Paddle has generously donated their meeting space for these community learning and engagement opportunities set in a social and historic atmosphere.  


Lyceum participants follow specific habits of conversation to create an environment where respectful dialogue can occur. Guidelines include listening to our neighbors’ words in the best light and seeing ourselves as fundamentally on the same team, even if we disagree.  

The lyceum begins with a 15-20 minute presentation from a local expert followed by 50 minutes of lightly facilitated small group community conversations around that topic. Some examples of topics from the past months include: Understanding Local History, The Meaning of Home, Building Local Democracy, and Art and the Meaning of Life.  

Seven lyceums were held in Duluth in 2022, with the final event happening on November 28th, featuring Dr. Gary Boelhower as the presenter on the topic of Intersections of Religion and Democracy. 

Look for continued updates on the Duluth Lyceum in 2023! You can learn more and participate in future lyceums here.

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August 2022

The Duluth Lyceum at Bent Paddle Brewing Co. 

After a pause to allow Northlanders a chance to enjoy the beautiful July weather, the Duluth Lyceum returns to Bent Paddle Brewing Co. on August 22nd! We are excited to welcome Director of the Duluth Art Institute Christina Woods as our presenter to launch us into our discussions for the night. 

Our topic for August is: Art and the Meaning of Life. This month’s theme will deal with why art is important to humanity and what function it plays in our society. From the time of the early cave paintings to now, human beings have treated art as an essential part of life. Why is art important to us and why are we driven to create it? How can it help us to make sense of our lives and of our world? 

The Lyceum Movement is a national non-profit movement with the purpose of bringing community members together to discuss important topics and learn together in a social and historical setting. View a short video to learn more about the Lyceum here.