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Scholars' Convo: Cosmic Secrets

Asif SiddiqiFordham University Professor of History Asif Siddiqi will discuss the history of the Soviet space program during the free, public Scholars' Convocation at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Much of Siddiqi's interests are focused on the history of science and technology, postcolonial science, and its intersections with popular culture. He is a recent winner of the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship, has held an endowed visiting chair at the Smithsonian Institution, and is a leading expert in the history of modern science and technology.

A prolific writer and speaker on Soviet history, Siddiqi serves on the National Research Council Committee on the Future of Human Spaceflight, and is a contributing editor of the journal Technology and Culture. He has written several books, including The Rockets' Red Glare: Spaceflight and the Soviet Imagination, 1857–1957," Sputnik and the Soviet Space Challenge, and The Soviet Space Race with Apollo. His upcoming book from Oxford University Press is titled Soviet Science and the Gulag.

Siddiqi also has been quoted by numerous national media outlets about topics ranging from accidents in space to engineering disasters to the Russian Space Program. He holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and a master's degree in economics from Texas A&M University, as well as an M.B.A from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a Ph.D. in history from Carnegie Mellon University.

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.

Preview “Happy Birthday Marsha!” with Writers/Directors

Happy Birthday, Marsha “Happy Birthday, Marsha!” is a forthcoming film about legendary transgender artist and activist, Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson and her life in the hours before the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City.

Join us for a discussion and preview screening of clips of the film with the writers and directors, Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel, at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

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

Sponsors include Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Department of History, the Center for the Humanities, and the Stonewall Resource Center.

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.

Little House in the Empire

Daniel PerlsteinDaniel Perlstein, a leading scholar of American education, will give a talk on Monday, Nov. 9, titled "Little House in the Empire: Imperialism on the Literary and Educational Frontier." 

The talk, which is free and open to the public, will start at 7:30 p.m. in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. The Center for Prairie Studies and the departments of education and history are sponsoring his talk.

"Many children first learned something about the North American prairie from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved 'Little House' books," said Jon Andelson, professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Prairie Studies. "Few realize, however, that Wilder herself claimed to have written her novels in part to teach American children about the New Deal’s totalitarian evils, or that Wilder’s books were shaped by an imperialist ideology, itself an expression of American progressive educational thought of her day."

Perlstein, professor of social and cultural studies in education at the University of California – Berkeley, will discuss these surprising and fascinating connections. He also will compare Wilder to John Dewey, a progressive education reformer in the 20th century.

Both Wilder and Dewey celebrated pioneer self-direction and the authenticity of pioneer life, Wilder through the imperialist ideology of her books and Dewey through educational reform. Comparing the two, Perlstein contends, sheds light on the integral role of the frontier in American educational thought. 

Perlstein is an education scholar committed to the creation of schools that address social inequalities in both American schools and life. He has written on various topics, such as race and class conflicts in urban education, radical school activism, gender, and school violence, as well as the African American freedom struggle. He has been published in various academic journals, such as History of Education Quarterly, Paedagogica Historica, and Teachers College Record.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations and Events.

Generation Grinnell

A close-knit, multi-generational alumni network isn’t typically something students look for when searching for the perfect college experience. But for Sara Lowenburg ’13, the opportunity to connect with a network of Grinnellians has been a hallmark of her education and post-graduate success.

The daughter of Grinnellian Jane Mauldin ’76, Lowenburg was impressed by the level of professor-student interactions during her visit as a prospective student. “I remember sitting in on Professor Purcell’s Civil War class, and it was awesome,” Lowenburg says. “The professor was engaging and the students were really into it and had a lot of thoughtful contributions. I could tell that the professors had relationships with students and I didn’t see that everywhere I visited.”

This initial experience with Sarah Purcell ’92, professor of history and a Grinnell alumna, later led Lowenburg to a Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) on how the Civil War has been commemorated. This project enabled her to work closely with Purcell and a small group of other students, doing highly in-depth, critical research. The MAP culminated in the students curating an exhibit about Civil War era Grinnell.

“I loved the experience of doing a MAP, because it allowed me to hone my research skills and because it was a very intensive project. It was great to have a lot of control over what was exhibited and to see what the school was like during a very different era,” Lowenburg says.

After graduating, Lowenburg participated in an internship with the Museum at Eldridge Street in New York City, an opportunity offered by Grinnell alumna Hanna Griff-Sleven ’81. “She was genuinely interested in what I thought, and I could not have asked for a better colleague. I secured the internship for the summer after I graduated from Grinnell, and by September 1st, I had a full-time job,” Lowenburg says. She currently works for the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

With a Grinnellian mother, a rewarding MAP experience with a Grinnellian professor, and an internship with a Grinnell alumna, Lowenburg has been able to experience the intense connection many past and present Grinnellians feel toward each other.

“The network of Grinnell is pretty special. I feel very connected and very well taken care of.”

Caucus 2016: Fifty Years after Selma

The Rosenfield Program is bringing experts from across the political spectrum and from different professions to speak at a series of free public events leading up to the 2016 Iowa caucuses.

"Iowa is a politically impactful state and the Iowa caucuses are an important part of America's political landscape," said Sarah Purcell, professor of history and director of the Rosenfield Program. "Whether you participate in the caucuses as a voter or an observer, it's important to go beyond the headlines and engage in the issues. We want to give people the tools they need to participate in politics in an educated and civil manner."

Judith Brown-DianisLawyer and activist Judith Browne-Dianis will present the first event, a lecture about voting rights, at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, in ARH Auditorium, Room 302.

Her talk, "Fifty Years after Selma: Voting Rights Under Attack," will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act by describing its role in the Iowa caucuses and the presidential selection process.

Co-director of the Advancement Project and former managing attorney of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc., Dianis has extensive background in civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of voting, education, housing and employment.

The Advancement Project is a next-generation, multi-racial civil rights organization focused on dismantling structural racism by changing public policies.

The president's office is co-sponsoring the lecture.

Caucus 2016

The Rosenfield Program is holding four additional caucus-related events during the fall semester:

How to Reduce Political Polarization without Compromise
4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101
A workshop with Phil Neisser and Jacob Hess, co-authors of You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong): Conversations between a Die-Hard Liberal and a Devoted Conservative.
Neisser, professor of political theory at State University of New York at Potsdam and a leftist; and Hess, research director at Utah Youth Village, a nonprofit for abused children, and a conservative; will conduct a workshop about how liberals and conservatives can have more civil and productive conversations.
Co-sponsors: Peace and Conflict Studies Program and Ombuds
Using Dialogue as Civic Engagement, On and Off Campus,
4 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20
Rosenfield Center, Room 101
A lecture by political opposites and co-authors Neisser and Hess.
Co-sponsors: Peace and Conflict Studies Program and Ombuds
What Are the Iowa Caucuses?
6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1
ARH Auditorium, Room 302
An introduction to the history and politics of the Iowa caucuses presented by Purcell and Barbara Trish, professor and chair of political science.
Journalists Talk About the Iowa Caucuses
5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 7
Rosenfield Center, Room 101
A panel discussion with Pulitzer Prize-winner David Shribman, executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Jen Jacobs, Des Moines Register chief political reporter; and Kathie Obradovich, Des Moines Register political columnist.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. Accommodation requests may be made to event sponsors or Conference Operations and Events.

Little House in the Empire: Imperialism on the Literary and Educational Frontier

Monday, November 9, 2015 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101


Daniel Perlstein, Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Studies in Education
Graduate School of Education
University of California, Berkeley

Laura Ingalls Wilder claimed to have written her beloved Little House novels in part to teach American children about the New Deal’s totalitarian evils.   John Dewey embodied America’s left-liberal tradition.  And yet, the two were strange pedagogical and ideological bedfellows.  Like Dewey, Wilder consistently contrasts Laura’s activity and learning at home with the routinized oppressive lessons at school.  And like Wilder, Dewey celebrated pioneer self-direction and the authenticity of pioneer life.  Less sentimental than Dewey, Wilder makes explicit the contrast between the activity of settlers and the presumed emptiness of Native lands, to be filled through the activity of settlers.  Comparing Dewey and Wilder illuminates the role of the frontier in progressive educational thought.  In short, just as the Little House books mirrored the mainstream of American progressive educational thought, progressive educational thought articulated the imperialist ideology that shaped the Little House books.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Prairie Studies and the Departments of Education and History. This event is free and open to the public.

Churchill: The Politician as Playwright

Jonathan Rose will deliver a Scholars' Convocation on "Churchill: The Politician as Playwright" at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 1, in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Although he was known chiefly as a politician and wartime leader, Churchill was also a best-selling author, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953. In Rose's latest book, The Literary Churchill: Writer, Reader, Actor, he introduces readers to "a Winston Churchill we have not known before." The Washington Post's review of the book states "In this sometimes speculative but immensely enjoyable biography, Jonathan Rose shows that Churchill’s authorial and political careers were entwined and inseparable."

Rose is William R. Kenan Professor of History at Drew University.

He was the founding president of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing, and he is coeditor of that organization’s journal, Book History.  His book The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (2nd ed., 2010) won the Longman-History Today Historical Book of the Year Prize, the American Philosophical Society Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History, the British Council Prize of the North American Conference on British Studies, the SHARP Book History Prize, and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Prize. 

His other publications include The Edwardian Temperament, The Holocaust and the Book: Destruction and Preservation, and A Companion to the History of the Book (with Simon Eliot). 

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.


Do The Right Thing: Film Screening and Panel Discussion

The Cultural Films Committee is sponsoring a free, public screening of Spike Lee's  "Do the RIght Thing" at 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26, at The Strand Theatre, 921 Main St. Grinnell, Iowa.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with:

In a 1989 New York Times movie review, critic Roger Ebert said, ”Anyone who walks into this film expecting answers is a dreamer or a fool. But anyone who leaves the movie with more intolerance than they walked in with wasn't paying attention.”

“Do the Right Thing doesn't ask its audiences to choose sides;" he added, “it is scrupulously fair to both sides, in a story where it is our society itself that is not fair.”

Read more of Ebert's review and join us for the screening.

A Greener Grinnell

For the past decade, Grinnell College has prioritized environmental sustainability, which is itself a social justice issue, in both constructing new buildings and maintaining century-old ones.

Building a Sustainable Campus

The Conard Environmental Research Area’s Environmental Education Center was the College’s first major sustainability effort. “It was a smaller building and gave us a chance to do everything right,” says Chris Bair 96, environmental and safety manager. “Plus, if you can’t build an environmental education building sustainably, what can you do?”

The Environmental Education Center was the first LEED gold-certified building in Iowa and was the College’s first building with a wind turbine, water reclamation, and geothermal heating and cooling. Now the College’s preschool and pool buildings also use geothermal heating and cooling. The Noyce Science Center and the Bear Recreation and Athletic Center have cisterns that collect rainwater. Noyce’s provides water to the greenhouse and the Bear’s is used to water the football fields.

Facilities management is also working on a number of solar projects, including the recent installation of a 20-kilowatt solar unit on the facilities management building in addition to the solar hot water unit of Eco House. “And we’re exploring the possibility of putting 200 kilowatts worth of solar power on campus,” says Bair.

Global Research and Collaboration

Six students conducted research on sustainability in several German cities during spring break. They were accompanied by Bair and facilities manager Rick Whitney, as well as Lee Sharpe, associate professor of chemistry, and Liz Queathem, a biology lecturer. In this group Mentored Advanced Project, each student focused on a different aspect of sustainability with the intent to make recommendations to the College:

  • Sophie Neems ’16 examined how change happens and what societal factors in Germany have caused increased sustainability efforts that just aren’t happening in the United States.
  • Emma Leverich 16 looked at the efficacy of a waste-to-energy process that uses biodigesters; the methane gas that the biodigesters produce would be siphoned off and burned for fuel.
  • Zhi Chen ’17 investigated the potential implementation of solar energy on campus by surveying the available space and calculating the cost of installation.
  • Ben Mothershead ’16 and Liza Morse ’15 compared the building certification programs and building codes of the United States and Germany. They spoke with several architects in both countries about their experience with sustainable design.
  • Samantha Snodgrass ’16 researched storm water reclamation and infiltration.

When the students returned, they each wrote a paper on their research and presented the papers to the local city government, the Grinnell Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority.

Importance of Visibility

One of the major lessons learned on the trip was the importance of making sustainable efforts more visible. If students are more aware of the resources they are consuming, they are likely to do more to curb their consumption.

Many of the College’s ongoing sustainability efforts are significant but may go unnoticed by students. Each summer facilities management updates a residence hall with LED lights, low-flow toilets, and efficient showerheads. They also connect each hall to the College’s central building automation and add set points to thermostats and window sensors that shut off the heat or air conditioners when windows are open.

In Germany, virtually every hotel in which the students, faculty, and staff stayed had a display in the lobby indicating how much energy had been produced by the building’s rooftop solar panels.

Starting this summer, facilities management will install submeters in residence halls to monitor water and electricity use. The hope is that once that information is on display, students will be more aware of their consumption. There has even been talk of starting conservation competitions between halls. “Renewable energy is out there and everyone is bragging about it,” says Bair. The group also took tours of green roofs and rainwater collection features.

“On Grinnell’s campus, you’re always aware of the social justice implications of pretty much everything,” says Bair. “I’d like sustainability to rise to that level.”

Sophie Neems ’16 is an anthropology and Spanish double major from Iowa City, Iowa.
Emma Leverich ’16 is a chemistry and anthropology double major from Clive, Iowa.
Zhi Chen ’17 is a computer science and history double major from Oakland, Calif.
Ben Mothershead ’16 is an economics major from Falls Church, Va.
Samantha Snodgrass ’16 is a biology major from Des Moines, Iowa.


A Rigorous Education

Archie Tyson ’06 transferred to Grinnell for two reasons: the rigorous education and the opportunity to play football. “I knew that I wasn’t going to get drafted to play in the NFL, so my attitude was to play and enjoy the game, but to get a quality education at the same time,” he says.

“I appreciated the positivity of the coaches,” he adds. “They weren’t trying to break you down. They all realize that football is going to come to an end, and that you’re eventually going to be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, or a teacher, or something else, and that you need to develop skills and an identity outside of the sport.”

By playing a varsity sport, Tyson learned to juggle many different responsibilities, particularly his rigorous academic workload.

As a kid, Tyson didn’t spend much time in an academic setting like the one at Grinnell. “If you miss a class, your professor notices it and will ask you about the absence,” he says. “That level of personal attention goes a long way toward the development of a student.”

Professor Daniel Kaiser (history) helped Tyson learn how to take the great ideas he had in his head and arrange them cohesively into an argument. “I appreciated how honest he was and how committed he was to ensuring that I would be successful,” Tyson says.

Tyson used that same care and attention with his own students when he started his career with Teach for America. He took the time to immerse himself in the community where they were growing up. “Kids would work for me in the classroom because they knew that I noticed them, that I cared about them, and that I was concerned about their progress,” he says.

Tyson was quickly promoted from a classroom teacher to dean of students — while commuting to New York City to earn a master’s in educational leadership and administration at Columbia University.

“After having taken graduate-level courses, I can see that you get a different type of education at Grinnell,” he says. “If you go into any type of graduate program, you’ll instantly tell that the quality of education and the instruction that you received have set you up for success.”

Archie Tyson ’06 majored in history. He is assistant principal and director of football operations at KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School in Blytheville, Ark.