Grinnell College’s Center for Prairie Studies will look to the future during a Nov. 8-10 symposium examining “How Will the Midwest Survive? Visions for the Future.” The three-day symposium will include presentations by rural economic development specialists, farmer and former agriculture secretary candidate Francis Thicke, and Iowa native and global observer Richard Longworth.
Symposium organizer Jon Andelson, director of the Center for Prairie Studies, said that the symposium will focus on solutions, not “doom-and-gloom diagnoses of problems.”
“Midwesterners may not have complete control of the region’s future, but we can shape it. The question is ‘how should we?’ The speakers have differing views of diverse sectors of commerce and community, so symposium attendees will have the opportunity to consider alternatives and learn what roles they as individuals can play in setting the course,” Andelson added.
The free, public events include:
- Nov. 8, 4:15 p.m.: Francis Thicke will present “A New Vision for Midwest Food and Agriculture.” Thicke operates an organic dairy farm near Fairfield, Ia., and was a 2010 candidate for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. He is the author of a book on the ongoing conflicts between factory and family farms.
- Nov. 8, 7 p.m.: Director of Iowa Rural Development Bill Menner will conduct a talk show-style interview with Kim Didier, executive director of Des Moines Area Community College’s Business Resources, and Sandy Ehrig, economic development administrator for Renew Rural Iowa of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation, about their “Visions for Rural Economic Development in the Midwest.”
- Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m.: A screening of the documentary film, “A Little Salsa on the Prairie,” will be followed by a discussion led by Grinnell faculty members Victoria Brown (history) and Eric Carter (anthropology). “Salsa” looks at the social and economic effects of immigration on Perry, Ia. The film will be shown in Room 102, Alumni Recitation Hall, 1226 Park St. on the Grinnell campus.
- Nov. 10, 11 a.m.: Richard Longworth will deliver the Scholars’ Convocation on “The Midwest’s Future in the Age of Globalism.” Longworth is a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, which he joined in 2003 after a distinguished 20-year career in international journalism with the Chicago Tribune. He is the author of several books including “Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism,” “Global Squeeze,” and “Global Chicago.”
- Nov. 10, 4:15 p.m.: The symposium will conclude with a lecture by award-winning author Jay Walljasper on “Rediscovering the Commons to Boost the Heartland’s Future.” Walljasper is a contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler, a fellow and editor for “On the Commons,” former editor of Utne Reader, author of “The Great Neighborhood Book,” and co-author of “Visionaries: People and Ideas to Change Your Life” and “All That We Share: How to Save the Economy, the Environment, The Internet, Democracy, Our Communities and Everything Else that Belongs to All of Us.”
The symposium is co-sponsored by the Center for Prairies Studies, the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, and the Luce Program in Nations and the Global Environment. All symposium events will be held in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, 1115 8th Ave., unless otherwise noted. Grinnell welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Information on parking and accessibility is available on the college website. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or calendar[at]grinnell[dot]edu.