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Geek Out on Policy

“I want to do foreign policy,” says Misha Gelnarova ’18, an international student from the Czech Republic who spent part of spring break in Washington, D.C., with the Rosenfield Program’s second annual industry tour. “Seeing it through the lens of the American side is really interesting.”

Gelnarova, an independent major in international relations and communications, was one of 20 Grinnell students, out of nearly 60 who applied, to participate in the policy-oriented industry tour March 29 through April 2. The trip helped students explore their interests in policy issues, network with alumni, and further their career goals.

The 2016 tour included visits with alumni at the U.S. Department of State, the Arms Control Association, the Heritage Foundation, Verizon, Politico, and the National Association of Manufacturers. They also visited the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

New View on Journalists

Students on an subway escalator, with two closest women smiling while looking at one's phone“I loved the visit to Politico,” Gelnarova says. “It was easy to connect with the young alum [Ben Weyl ’07, formerly with Congressional Quarterly]. He talked about how he got internships through Grinnell — both were in D.C. and in journalism. Even though Grinnell doesn’t have [journalism as a major], he was able to find a job quickly.

“I have this idea that reporters are going to break your leg to get the story,” Gelnarova says. “[Weyl] was the most calm and peaceful and intelligent person. He talked about the relationships he’s got on the Hill. He’s able to engage with members of Congress in a very friendly manner. So this relationship is beneficial to both of them because they can say what they want and he has a firsthand source. It can actually work in a nice manner.”

Foreign Policy from a Personal Perspective

Gelnarova is deeply interested in her home country’s international relations. While the Grinnell students were in Washington, D.C., the president of the Czech Republic hosted a visit from the president of China. “It seems to send a huge message since we’re such a small country and we’re having this very official visit,” Gelnarova says. “The whole Czech Republic transformed to welcome the Chinese with flags everywhere. This kind of shows how the Czech Republic is leaning toward the East rather than to the Western powers.”

During a visit with U.S. State Department alumni, Gelnarova presented her concerns to Aubrey Carlson ’82, director of the Office of Central European Affairs, including the Czech Republic. “I was wondering how he sees it,” Gelnarova says. “Does it degrade the Czech Republic in his eyes? He said they have great cooperation with the prime minister [the actual head of government]. They understand that the president [head of state] is leaning somewhere else than the republic and the people. So it kind of settles me down.”

Receptive to Questions

The tour also included a visit with Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and former governor of Iowa. He was going to give an overview of the USDA, Gelnarova says, “but he believes Grinnell students already know that, so we went straight to questions. It was pretty fantastic to see that he was really comfortable sitting down with us for an extensive amount of time [45 minutes] for a person in such a high position and just answer whatever we had to ask.”

Alumni Network

Students were invited to alumni’s homes as well as meeting them in their workplaces.

“I feel like the whole alumni network at Grinnell is golden,” Gelnarova says. “They had the same experience in the middle of cornfields. Being able to interact with them and see that they are doing incredible stuff but also that they’re so approachable and so easy to connect with.”

The alumni presented policy as well as career issues. “You can watch today’s students imagining how they can get to different paths,” says Sarah Purcell ’92, director of the Rosenfield Program and professor of history.

Washington, D.C., is such a rich place with many alumni volunteers, Purcell says, that the Rosenfield Program’s third annual industry tour will return there in spring 2017 with a focus on technology and human rights.

Grinnell students, faculty, and staff on Rosenfield Program DC tour

Misha Gelnarova ’18 is from Ostrava, Czech Republic. Her independent major focuses on international relations and communications. Photos courtesy of Gelnarova.

The Great Disruption: China's 21st Century Reemergence

It is often said these days that whenever China sneezes, the world catches a cold. Indeed, some time within the next decade, China is likely to become the world’s largest economy. This paradigm shift has wide-ranging implications, in particular for a United States that dominated the 20th century.

A generation of Americans will age into a profoundly changed world in which the rise of China will affect many facets of their lives — economic, social, environmental, perhaps even philosophical — and thus a basic understanding of 20% of humanity can no longer be relegated to specialists and policymakers.

Damien Ma will present “The Great Disruption: China's 21st Century Reemergence” at 4 p.m. Friday, April 29, in ARH Auditorium, Room 302. In his talk, Ma aims to provide an overarching picture of the Chinese political economy, where it has been and where it may be headed. More broadly, Ma seeks to explain why the US-China relationship is so consequential to global economic and environmental prosperity and stability. 

Ma’s visit is sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; East Asian Studies; and the Department of Chinese and Japanese.

Damien Ma

Damien Ma is a fellow and associate director of the Think Tank at the Paulson Institute. His work at the institute also focuses on investment and policy-related programs. He is the co-author of In Line Behind a Billion People: How Scarcity Will Define China’s Ascent in the Next Decade. He currently also serves as an adjunct lecturer at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Previously, Ma was a lead China and Mongolia analyst at Eurasia Group, the political risk research and advisory firm. He specialized in analyzing the intersection between Chinese policies and markets, with a particular focus on energy and commodities, industrial policy, elite politics, US-China relations, and social policies. His advisory and analytical work served a range of clients from institutional investors and multinational corporations to the US government. Prior to joining Eurasia Group, he was a manager of publications at the US-China Business Council in Washington, DC. He also worked in public relations firm H-Line Ogilvy in Beijing, where he served major multinational clients.

In addition, Ma has published widely, including in The Atlantic online, New York Times, Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, and Bloomberg, among others. He has also appeared in a range of broadcast media such as the Charlie Rose Show, BBC, NPR, and CNBC. He also served as an adjunct instructor at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington, DC. Ma is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was named a “99under33” foreign policy leader in 2012 by the Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese.

 

Racialized State Violence and the Movement for Black Lives

In a free, public event, Damon Williams ’14 will present “Bigger Than the Cops: Racialized State Violence and the Movement for Black Lives” at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 28, in ARH Auditorium, Room 302.

After a brief presentation, Williams will join in a one-on-one conversation with Shanna Benjamin, associate professor of English. Alexandra Odom ’17 will introduce participants and set the stage for the discussion.

At 5 p.m., there will be a break for refreshments. Attendees will return at 5:15 p.m. for a workshop with Williams and Kesho Scott, associate professor of American studies and sociology.

Event sponsors include Alumni in the Classroom Program, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Center for the Humanities, Peace and Conflict Studies, the Departments of Sociology, American Studies, and Economics, and the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations through Conference Operations and Events.

About Damon Williams ’14

After a brief presentation, Williams will join in a one-on-one conversation with Shanna Benjamin, associate professor of English at Grinnell College. Senior Alexandra Odom will introduce participants and set the stage for the discussion.

At 5 p.m., there will be a break for refreshments. Attendees will return at 5:15 p.m. for a workshop with Williams and Kesho Scott, associate professor of American studies and sociology at Grinnell.

Williams is a community producer, organizer, radio host, hip-hop performance artist, actor, teacher and public speaker from the south side of Chicago. He has performed across the country with his sister, Kristiana Colón, as the poetic duo April Fools. He also co-hosts "AirGo Radio," a weekly show on WHPK, Chicago Community Radio.

In addition, Williams co-chairs the Chicago chapter of Black Youth Project 100, a national political organization comprised of black youth ages 18-35. He co-edits the #LetUsBreathe Collective, an artistic activist organization that serves underprivileged people and creatively disrupts the anti-black racist status quo.

Committed to addressing economic inequality, Williams also serves as the co-director of the Ujamaa Jr. Investment Club, which promotes financial literacy and investment strategies.

Carnival and Creativity

February 11-12, 2016 at Grinnell College

Queen ReesieOn August 23, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans. Roughly five years later, on January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake rocked the small island nation of Haiti.

These cataclysmic events, this shared experience of trauma, added a further layer of connection between these two regions, already linked by their shared African and French heritage, the legacy of colonialism, and the experience of slavery that made Louisiana and Haiti home to vibrant, thriving Afro-diasporic communities.

February 2016 represents the 10th and 5th anniversaries (respectively) of the first Pre-Lenten celebrations – Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Haiti – to follow these social and environmental catastrophes.

Bennie Pete and Hot 8 Brass BandIn New Orleans and Port-Au-Prince alike, Carnival did what Carnival always does: it gave the community a chance to come together in solidarity in the face of struggle; it provided an opportunity to heal from trauma; and it offered a moment for people who are often ignored – especially within the upper echelons of global social and economic power – to give voice and movement to their struggles and their triumphs through song and dance and celebration.

These Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations showed us the remarkable power that music, dance, and art have to heal and to empower individuals and communities.

On February 11-12, 2016, we will pay tribute to those individuals and communities with a series of events that mark the 10th and 5th anniversaries of the 2006 and 2011 Carnival celebrations:

Thursday, Feb. 11

4:30-6:30 p.m., Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Lawson Hall, Room 102
New Orleans Brass Band Workshop with Bennie Pete, tuba and co-founder, Hot 8 Brass Band
7:30-9 p.m., Bucksbaum Center, Lawson Hall, Room 152
"If You Don't Like What the Big Queen Says, Just...": An Evening With Queen Reesie (Cherice Harrison-Nelson, curator of the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame and Big Queen of the Guardians of the Flame Mardi Gras Indians)

Friday, Feb. 12

4:15-6 p.m., Bucksbaum Center, Lawson Hall, Room 152
Carnival and Creativity Roundtable Discussion
Discussants:
  • Gage Averill, University of British Columbia
  • Cherice Harrison-Nelson, Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame
  • Tess Kulstad, Grinnell College
  • Bennie Pete, Hot 8 Brass Band
  • Moderated by Mark Laver, Grinnell College
8-9:30 p.m., Bucksbaum Center, Sebring-Lewis Hall
The Grinnell Jazz Ensemble Plays the Music of New Orleans, featuring Bennie Pete and Cherice Harrison-Nelson. Directed by Mark Laver.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Music, the Center for Humanities, the Center for International Studies, and the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.

Campaign Finance Symposium

Grinnell College will hold a Campaign Finance Symposium on Feb. 9-11 to investigate the role of money in politics and propose potential solutions from different perspectives, including campaign finance scholars, journalists, professors, lawyers, and activists.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by Grinnell College’s Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.

“In the aftermath of the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United case, the U.S. campaign finance system has changed rapidly with the rise of Super PACs and other new funding instruments,” said Sarah Purcell ’92, director of the Rosenfield Program. “Our symposium speakers will address the current finance system from many different points of view to help our community understand the current state of campaign finance to and debate the merits of several proposed reforms to the system.”

Key speakers will be Michael Malbin, professor, scholar and co-founder and executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute in Washington, D.C., and Michael Beckel, investigative reporter covering the influence of money on elections for the Center for Public Integrity.

Big Dollars, Small Dollars – What's Going On

Michael MalbinMalbin, a professor of political science at the State University of New York at Albany, will deliver the keynote address at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. He has co-authored several books, including his most recent works, Independent Spending in Congressional Primaries and Citizen Funding for Elections: What do we know? What are the effects? What are the options?

His talk, titled "Big Dollars, Small Dollars – What's Going On," will focus on the differences between Ronald Reagan’s campaign in the 1980s, when he raised nearly half of his presidential campaign money from hundreds of thousands of donors in amounts of $200 or less, and the 2016 cycle, when half of the money raised in the first six months of the campaign came from 158 families.

Super PACs, ‘Dark Money’ and the 2016 White House Race

Michael BeckelBeckel will deliver his lecture “Super PACs, ‘Dark Money’ and the 2016 White House Race” at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, Rosenfield Center, Room 101. In addition to the symposium, this lecture is part of the Scholars’ Convocation series.

 As a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, Beckel has covered Super PACs, politically active nonprofits, and the influence of money on elections for the past four years. His reports have taken him inside oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court for the landmark decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. His work has been published in numerous media outlets, including the Des Moines Register, Huffington Post, Politico Magazine, Slate, and Time.

Other Symposium Events

Other symposium events include:

  • Barry Anderson“Judicial Elections and Campaign Finance: The Unhappy Marriage” lecture by Barry Anderson, associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court, at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101.
  • Nicole Austin“Money in Politics: The Next Civil Rights Agenda” lecture by Nicole Austin-Hillery, director and counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101.
  • Buffet dinner with symposium speakers, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, Rosenfield Center, Room 101.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

A Conversation about the Iowa Caucuses

Grinnell College will host "A Conversation about the Iowa Caucuses with E.J. Dionne Jr. and David Shribman" at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 28, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

The Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights is sponsoring the event, which is free and open to the public.

"We are so lucky to be in a position at Grinnell to hear from these distinguished journalists as part of our preparation to participate in the historic Iowa Caucuses," said Sarah Purcell, director of the Rosenfield Program and professor of history.

E.J. Dionne Jr.Dionne is a syndicated columnist, National Public Radio commentator, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a noted author. His books include Why Americans Hate Politics and Why the Right Went Wrong: Conservatism From Goldwater to the Tea Party and Beyond, scheduled for release this week by Simon & Schuster.

His new book "provides a sweeping, sophisticated and shrewd analysis of the radicalization of the Republican Party from the defeat of Goldwater to the rise of the Tea Party and the bizarre twists and turns of the GOP's presidential contest in the fall of 2015," according to a review by Glenn Altshulter in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

David ShribmanShribman has been executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since 2003. Before joining the Post-Gazette, he covered politics for several other distinguished newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. His column, "My Point," is nationally syndicated. He received the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for his coverage of Washington in 1995.

This will be Shribman's second appearance at Grinnell in recent months. He served on a panel with a Des Moines Register political reporter and political columnist at another Rosenfield event on Dec. 7 titled "Journalists Talk About The Iowa Caucuses."

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Bridging Scholarship and Activism

BlainGrinnell College's celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day will feature a speech on Tuesday, Jan. 26, by University of Iowa Assistant Professor of History Keisha N. Blain.

Although Jan. 18 was the King Holiday, the College is celebrating it on Jan. 26, the day after classes begin for the 2016 spring semester.

Blain's speech, titled "Bridging Scholarship and Activism: Reflections on the #Charlestonsyllabus," will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101. Immediately following the talk, Blain will join attendees in a buffet dinner. Both the speech and dinner are free and open to the public.

"Dr. Blain is a rising academic whose work demonstrates how scholarship and activism for social change can and must be connected," said Professor of History Sarah Purcell, who also directs the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights

"She will speak about connections in her own work on African American history," Purcell added, "and her work to educate the public about historical context necessary for understanding the Charleston shootings and continuing to combat white supremacy. Anyone with an interest in racial justice, current affairs, or history should not miss this talk."

Blain is one of the co-developers #Charlestonsyllabus, a Twitter movement and crowdsourced list of reading recommendations relating to the history of racial violence in the United States. It was created in response to the racially motivated shooting that took place in June 2015 during a Bible study class in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The reading list has drawn international media attention from news outlets such as PBS, BBC, NPR, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

Blain also is a co-editor of "Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism and Racial Violence," forthcoming later this year from the University of Georgia Press. In addition, she is completing her first solo-authored book, "Contesting the Global Color Line: Black Women, Nationalist Politics, and Internationalism," which is forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Grinnell College's Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights is sponsoring Blain's speech and the buffet dinner. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is co-sponsoring the events.

Journalists Talk About the Iowa Caucuses

Three national political journalists will discuss the role of the news media covering the 2016 Iowa caucuses at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

The panel discussion, which is free and open to the public, will conclude the fall series of public events leading up to the Iowa caucuses sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights. The series has brought to campus political activists, authors, professors and, now, journalists, to share their perspectives of the Iowa caucuses. 

The journalists serving on the media panel will be:

  • David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette;
  • Jennifer Jacobs, chief political reporter at the Des Moines Register; and
  • Kathie Obradovich, political columnist at the Des Moines Register.

An acclaimed journalist, Shribman became the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2003. Before joining the Post-Gazette, he covered politics for several other distinguished newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. His column, "My Point" is nationally syndicated. He received the Pulitzer Prize in journalism for his coverage of Washington in 1995.

Jacobs has been the chief political reporter at the Des Moines Register since 2011. She covers presidential, congressional, and state politics in Iowa, as well as Iowa's first-in-the-nation role in the caucus. A respected voice for Iowa politics, she has been featured on Iowa Press, CNN, CSPAN, MSNBC, and NPR.

A 25-year veteran of covering Iowa politics, Obradovich has been at the Des Moines Register since 2003. Her columns, focusing on presidential, congressional, and local politics, are published weekly. For 10 years, Obradovich served as the Des Moines bureau chief at the Iowa Statehouse for several Iowa papers, including the Quad-City Times, and Mason City Globe-Gazette

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

A Level Playing Field?

Sociology professor Matthew Hughey Matthew Hughey of the University of Connecticut will deliver a lecture on Monday, Nov. 30, about how media coverage of athletics perpetuates the myth of "black brawn vs. white brains."

The free, public lecture, titled "A Level Playing Field? Zombie Theories of Athletics, Genetics and Race in Media," starts at 7:30 p.m. in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Black and white image of Jesse Owens racingHughey will discuss the role the news media play in perpetuating the myth of "black brawn vs. white brains" – that blacks have an inherent biological disposition toward athletic excellence. Despite biological and sociological evidence that debunks this theory, Hughey contends that many still believe in a link between black athleticism and biological determinism. He will argue that while empirically impossible, this thesis is a zombie theory – an idea that just won't die.

The author of several books, Hughey has written extensively about race, including The White Savior Film: Content, Critics and Consumption and  White Bound: Nationalists, Antiracists and the Shared Meanings of Race. He also serves as co-editor of The Obamas and a (Post) Racial America?

National media outlets such as NPR, ABC and CBS frequently call upon Hughey for his sociological expertise. He also is a contributing writer to The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and the Huffington Post, among others.

Hughey has received numerous honors throughout his career, such as the Distinguished Early Career Award from the American Sociological Association's Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities. Hughey is a member of both the Africana Studies and American Studies departments at the University of Connecticut.

Assistant Professor Casey Oberlin, sociology, is organizing the event. Co-sponsors are the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; the Center for Humanities; the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; the Instructional Support Committee; the Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies Department; the Department of Sociology; and the Department of Anthropology.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.