Minnesota Students Capture an American Dream in Flux, Online and in Print

More than 30 students at the University of Minnesota spent the past semester in FLUX. They created a printerrific, Webtastic class project on steroids, documenting the changing nature of the modern American dream via a full-color magazine and accompanying Web site.

As a letter from editor in chief Katie Pelton shares:

If you think of the American Dream, it’s likely your mind will wander to images of the 1950’s Pleasantville- you know, the breadwinner husband, his stay-at-home wife who happily tends to her two and a half children and their tidy house surrounded by a white picket fence. . . . While the concept might conjure images of 1950’s domesticity, it can equally be applied to the Pilgrims and today’s rule-rewriting, tech-savvy millennial generation. It has certainly struck a chord with me, and all of the individual dreamers we’ve encountered while producing this magazine. . . . We all have hopes and goals for the future- not only for our own lives, but also our country. With each generation comes new ideals, and because of the fluctuation of current societal standards, our principles are changing faster than ever.

According to a UM news release, the magazine is divided into four main areas. DEBATE skews political, touching on  “debt, environmental sustainability and diversity.”  LEARN presents pieces on education and the professional world, “posing the question: Is college necessary?”  LIVE screams arts and culture, including a then-and-now fashion spread. And TALK “explores modern communication and the influence technology and relationships have on the American Dream.”  My favorite snippet is a SoundSlides photo montage with audio in the multimedia section that presents young girls’ perspectives on what makes a person beautiful in the contemporary U.S.

Pelton, about the project overall: “Not only did we learn far more from this experience than a textbook could ever teach us, but we professionally produced a quality magazine that will influence people’s lives.”

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