Summer Intensive 2021

Who am I? Media, Technology, and Me

Big Data is changing our lives. 

How is big data changing our lives, and what challenges and opportunities does this transformation present? In less than a generation, we’ve witnessed nearly every piece of personal, scientific, and societal data come to be stored digitally. Stored information is both an intellectual and an economic commodity; it is used by businesses, governments, academics, and entrepreneurs. The velocity with which it accumulates and the techniques for leveraging it grow at a pace that is remarkable and often intimidating. But this revolution also promises hope, as it facilitates the development of targeted treatments for disease, uncovers patterns in the cosmos, and optimizes agricultural efficiency to create sustainable food sources.

Who am I

How do we understand our identity among the filters, influencers, and fake news? Does our digital footprint change how we truly see ourselves? We've all heard the challenges and dangers of media and techonolgy but what happens when we lean into the good? As we reflect on our identity as children of God, we reveal a powerful calling to be change makers in our world. We can leverage our digital world for good, making powerful connections, sharing what we are passionate about, and advocating for just change. 

2021 Academy Fellows will explore these topics and the ethical questions that arise from them at this year's Summer Intensive and Nobel Conference.

The 2021 Academy Program includes:
June 19-25, 2021 - Summer Intensive, at Gustavus (required)
October 5-6, 2021 - Nobel Conference 57 (optional)

Meet our 2021 Speakers!

Sarah Stonesifer Boylan, Theologian in-Residence

Sarah Stonesifer Boylan (she/her/hers) lives into her baptism every day. She focuses on digital teaching, coaching, resources, and training for thoughtful, innovative Christian formation, and community for all ages. Sarah works part-time as the Associate for Learning Organizations and Leadership for Learning ForTE!, supporting organizations and individuals who seek to increase their capacity to offer formal and informal learning opportunities in hybrid and digital environments. She spends her time digging into social media, educational technology, and digital communications and creating digitally-savvy leaders. Continuing her passion for systems management and organizational change, she is completing her Educational Doctorate in Leadership and Learning in Organizations from Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. She is also an elected member of The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council. When she’s not working, Sarah hangs out with her terrier-chihuahua, Lucas, and her husband, Brooks. Connect on social media: @sarahdigitally 


Elle Dowd, Activist in-Residence

Elle Dowd (she/her/hers) is a bi-furious recent graduate of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and a candidate for ordained ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Elle has pieces of her heart in Sierra Leone, where her two children were born, and in St. Louis where she learned from the radical, queer, Black leadership during the Ferguson Uprising. She was formerly a co-conspirator with the movement to #decolonizeLutheranism and currently serves as a board member of the Euro-Descent Lutheran Association for Racial Justice, does community organizing in her city as a board member of SOUL, writes regularly as part of the vision team for the Disrupt Worship Project, and facilitates workshops in both secular conferences and Christian spaces. She is publishing a book with Broadleaf, Baptized in Teargas, about her conversion from a white moderate to an abolitionist available for pre-order now. Elle loves spending time with the people she loves and on weekends when there isn’t a global pandemic, she tours the city of Chicago in search of the best Bloody Mary.To get in touch with Elle and to keep up with updates, you can visit her website and subscribe to her newsletter. 
You can also see her online ministry via 
or follow her on Twitter/SnapChat/Insta @hownowbrowndowd 
or on TikTok @elledowdministry
And pre-order her book Baptized in Teargas: From White Moderate to Abolitionist here 
Dr. Melissa Lynn, Scientist in-Residence

Dr. Lynn grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a strong interest in math, music, and art. She decided to focus on math, and earned her B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Chicago and her Ph.D. in Mathematics from UCLA. Her thesis work focused on pure math, applying techniques of algebraic geometry to a classical problem from number theory. While in graduate school at UCLA, she started playing ultimate frisbee, and expanded her study into computer science. Following her Ph.D., Dr. Lynn moved back to Minnesota for a postdoctoral position at the University of Minnesota. There, she focused on teaching, utilizing innovative pedagogy and curricula. She continued to study computer science, and helped found a machine learning summer camp for high school students. Dr. Lynn joined the faculty at Gustavus Adolphus College in 2019, teaching computer science. She is also currently pursuing a master’s degree in data science, through an online program at UIUC. She remains an avid ultimate frisbee player, though COVID has forced her to stick to disc golf for now.