Courses

The Grinnell-in-Washington DC program is offered in the first semester of each academic year. One core course of the curriculum changes from year to year, emphasizing some new aspect of Washington and its resources. The course reflects the expertise of the Grinnell faculty member leading the program that fall and lends the program some balance in the liberal arts to go with its emphasis on internships, professional development, and the world of policy. All students also take a second course on public policy, POL 295. An internship and internship seminar (the main setting for analyzing experiences in the internship) make up the rest of the academic credit that students earn.  To find in internships students undertake mentored searches for an appropriate match with their individual interests and experience. The internship is usually 12 weeks in length, Monday-Thursday, approximately 32 hours per week. Classes for interns are typically held on Wednesday evenings, as well as during the day on Friday.

The home campus faculty director from Grinnell for 2015 will be Kesho Scott, Associate Professor of American Studies and Sociology.

The curriculum:

POL 295: Contextual Policy Making: American Public Policy

P. Kinberg, 4 credits, prerequisites: none. 

This course examines public policy making in the United States. We will review important policy concepts and focus on the contexts in which public policy operates—institutional, economic, demographic, cultural, and ideological. We will then examine specific public policies, including economic policy, education, health care, gun control and climate change

SST 295: Organizational Life and Decision-Making in DC

(taught by the Faculty Director), 4 credits, prerequisites: none.

This course includes readings and discussions on how organizations operate and how decisions are made in Washington, DC as well as reflections on students' experiences as interns in Washington-based organizations. Students will analyze readings, share questions and insights from internship journals, develop portfolios of internship projects, and write a reflective paper (at the end of the semester) on their internship host organizations using informal ethnographic case study techniques.

SST 300: Internship

(taught by the Faculty Director), 4 credits, prerequisites: none.

Each student will intern four days a week (approximately 32 hours per week) for ten weeks. Grinnell College has contracted with a local non-profit that specializes in internship placement. The organization discusses the student's interests and based on that information secures an internship. These placements can be chosen from governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, or private, for-profit corporations.

(Fall 2015) AMS 295 - Off the Beaten Path: American National Identity through Museums

K. Scott, 4 credits, Prerequisite: None (AMS 130, SOC 111, or History 228 may be helpful)

American Museums: What is the story they tell about who Americans are and what American culture is and what it is not? This course provides an introduction to the theoretical and practical examination of how American National identity and culture is constructed through the material culture of DC museum exhibitions. Through the lens of interdisciplinary approach, students will read historical materials on how particular museums have been founded, managed, and transformed? They will also learn how museum curators employ artifact accession and exhibition production? Besides, they will interrogate how the interplay between both dominant and minority cultures shapes the field. Students will visit and evaluate museums and virtual exhibits, study major exhibit controversies, and consider debates about the politics of memory and visual display. Finally, these theoretical and methodological readings will provide a basis for the hands-on section of the course (site visits) where students will create a proposal for an actual or virtual museum exhibit that critiques, supplements or expands the troupe of National Identity Studies showings towards a more diverse, inclusive, and intersecting America identity.

(Fall 2014) SST 295 – Animal Rights, Animal Welfare, Animal Policy: Humans' Dealings with Other Animals

Bentley-Condit, 4 credits, no prerequisites

Humans are animals and we have associated with other animals as long as the genus Homo has existed – well before we were, technically, humans. Whether we see these others as our pets, our food, or our helpers – things to be used or objects of veneration – depends upon both the unstated norms and the official policies of our society intermixed with belief systems and individual preferences. In this course, we will explore primarily US practices regarding our relationships with and the uses, treatment, and rights of live, deceased, and about-to-be-deceased animals – ranging from dogs to chickens to lab rats. Doing so in DC will allow us to simultaneously read about and interact with both the policy makers and those who live the policies – ranging from butchers to sanctuary owners to animal rights activists – on a daily basis.

(Fall 2013) MUS 295 Arts Patronage and Public Policy in America's Capital (Gaub) (other cross-listings tbd, 4 credits)

** can count for the "Institutional Context" requirement of the Policy Studies concentration

This course focuses on how the Arts are paid for in the United States. Unlike countries in Europe in which the visual and performing arts are heavily subsidized by the government, our system is a mosaic of public and private philanthropy. Public patronage in our country is synonymous with the National Endowment for the Arts. We will closely examine the NEA's controversial history and its impact on American culture, and consider questions like these: Should the government fund the arts at all and to what extent? If so, who and what are deemed worthy or appropriate to support? A highlight of the 2004 GIW program occurred when the Director of the NEA, poet Dana Gioia, invited our class to spend an entire day with him at the NEA. I hope to arrange a similar opportunity for our students with the current NEA director, Rocco Landesman.

We will study private patronage through four case studies of individual philanthropists from Washington: Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, who commissioned Aaron Copland to write Appalachian Spring; Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, whose Dumbarton Oaks estate is now a museum of Byzantine and Pre-Columbian art; Duncan Phillips, whose collection of art became the first museum dedicated to modern art, the Phillips Collection; and music and art patrons Carmen and David Lloyd Kreeger. The course will make fieldtrips to sites around Washington relevant to these case studies.