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Off Campus Study

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Programs by Theme

 These themes cut across academic majors and represent interests that second-year students have often articulated in OCS advising meetings.

Off-Campus Study: Lessons Learned

Carmen Nelsen ’14 and Jeremy Wiles ’15 joined sixteen other students to share their experiences studying off-campus, and how important off-campus study is to them.

At the Associated Colleges of the Midwest’s (ACM) sixth annual Student Symposium, the students gave individual presentations and then to engaged in panel discussions and took questions from the audience.

Vice President for Student Affairs Houston Dougharty accompanied the students and moderated one of the panel discussions. In addition, he coordinated an outing for the symposium participants to experience a world premiere play at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre.

About Carmen Nelsen’s Travels

Nelsen, a political science major from Lincoln, Neb., studied in Washington, D.C., as part of the Grinnell-in-Washington program. 

She is grateful, she says, for the way her off-campus studies contributed to her “professional development, self-confidence, and ability to communicate with a variety of people in different contexts, from ambassadors and dignitaries to immigrant detainees fighting for their chance to stay in the United States.”

Watch Nelsen’s presentation: Champagne and Detention Centers: My Semester in Washington, DC

About Jeremy Wiles’ Travels

Wiles, an economics major from Pittsburg, Calif., studied in Copenhagen through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad.

“Whether we are talking about a city of 10,000 like Grinnell, Iowa, or half a million people like Copenhagen, community building is always significant,” he says. In his presentation, he discusses the qualities he found beneficial in both American and Danish advocacy groups and organizations.  A first-generation college student with immigrant parents, he says, “I wanted to [study abroad] for my family. The study abroad opportunity was my chance to pioneer an experience. I tell my little cousins, "If I can do it, so can you."

Watch Wiles’ presentation: Cultivating Social Responsibility and Community

About the Symposium

As a group, the eighteen students studied in a total of more than two dozen different countries. Their academic interests are eclectic – ranging across the humanities, sciences, and social sciences – as shown by their major fields of study and by the wide variety of subjects they pursued off-campus.

For 50 years, the ACM colleges have collaborated to offer off-campus study programs, both international and domestic, for their students. The annual student symposium celebrates this history, as well as the commitment by ACM colleges to providing off-campus study opportunities as an integral part of education in the liberal arts and sciences.

See the list of symposium participants for links to profiles of the students and videos of their presentations.


Grinnellians Abroad: Engagement & Learning

Life-changing experiences await Grinnellians who study abroad or off-campus—made possible through a wealth of fellowships, internships, and programs.  

So what is it like to study abroad? How does what you learn — in diverse cultures thousands of miles away — affect you and others once you return to Grinnell?

A panel of students and an alumnus who studied in China, Austria, and Guatemala will discuss their experiences during the presentation “Grinnellians Abroad: Engagement and Learning.” The event will be held at 7:30 p.m., April 21 in the Burling Library lounge.

“We can all have trouble projecting ourselves into an experience we haven’t had yet,” says Caleb Neubauer ’13, a post-baccalaureate fellow who traveled to China. “So hearing someone talk about their actual experiences can help other students see themselves doing something similar, too — and then act on that ambition.”

Other panelists include Lea Greenberg ’14 who will discuss her trip to Vienna, Austria. Amy Flores ’15, Enrique Romero ’15, and Jason Camey ’16, of the Student Organization of Latinas and Latinos (SOL) will discuss Guatemala.

Neubauer and Andy Delany ’13 spent six weeks in Shanghai and Beijing exploring art galleries as part of a Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) that culminated in an art show upon their return. They stayed in hostels and with alumni.

“I had never traveled abroad to that capacity,” Neubauer says. “So we both learned the many lessons of international, prolonged travel.”

Neubauer’s presentation will include how to plan a trip to China, and he plans to encourage students to seek out the Lan-Chang Fellowship.

The event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

The discussion is co-sponsored by the Center for International Studies, Off-Campus Study, and the Grinnell College Libraries

Grinnell in London Internships

Grinnell-in-London currently offers up to fifteen slots for internships, up to three in the British parliament and up to twelve at-large. Because the number of students in our program who can serve as interns is regulated by the UK Border Agency, selection of students for internship slots is usually competitive. Selection is based on students' academic records, the viability of matching a student's interests with the kinds of internships available in London, and the suitability of a student's background for a proposed internship.

Back to London

Studying abroad is not only for Grinnell foreign language majors.

Just ask Vilma Castaneda ’14, a Sociology and Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies double-major from Washington, D.C., who studied in the Grinnell-in-London program in fall 2012. She loved London so much, she decided to return for graduate school.

Castaneda begins her graduate program in film studies at King’s College London in fall 2014. She’ll complete a master’s degree her first year, then hopes to move straight into the doctoral program.

Her journey says a lot about the power of Grinnell’s flexibility. Students can tailor their degree programs to meet their specific goals, as Castaneda did.

When Castaneda came to Grinnell College, she loved going to movies for the pure pleasure of it. So, naturally, when she spotted a First-year Tutorial in film, she signed up.

Theresa Geller, assistant professor of English, taught the tutorial and encouraged Castaneda to pursue her interest in film.

Here’s where the flexibility came in. Although Grinnell does not have a film studies program, Castaneda discovered that a theoretical approach to film allowed her to talk about gender and other issues she cares about. Before that, Castaneda says, “I never conceptualized it as an academic tool, as an intense process.” She registered for every film-related course she could find.

She recently had a paper accepted for publication in Film Matters, a magazine specifically by and for undergraduate film scholars.

Castaneda also jumped at the Grinnell-in-London opportunity. “It was great at structuring experiences outside of the classroom,” she says. The program faculty was also supportive of students in achieving their unique goals.

Castaneda says she’s taken advantage of resources Grinnell College offers to pursue her passion. “I reached out to my professors,” she says. “I expect to have a long-term relationship with them.”

Adds Geller: “I am thrilled Vilma will be able to pursue her academic passion for cinema studies at the postgraduate level. She presented her work at last year's undergraduate Society for Cinema and Media Studies national conference and now she will be able to continue that research as a master's student. It’s an impressive trajectory.”

Steps for Applying

Step One

  • Obtain approval to apply to your first- or second-choice program.
  • Due: Monday, December 9, 2016. Approval notification: February 15, 2017
  • The new online application process will open during fall break on October 14, 2016. 
  • Notifications of approval will be sent on February 15, 2017.

More Information on Step One

Choosing a Program

What is Off-Campus Study?

Each year, Grinnell students are accepted into a wide range of off-campus study programs both abroad and elsewhere in the United States. They study abroad throughout the world: Asia, Australia, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and various locations in the U.S. Participation is open to all qualified students and possibilities for study exist in virtually all subject areas.