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Hands-on Liberal Arts

Providing students with hands-on experience in a way that impacts the local community may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of anthropology, but that’s exactly what Monty Roper’s Applied Anthropology course is all about. “Anthropology is applied across a huge range of different professions, in the business world, in the NGO world, in development and health,” says Roper, associate professor of anthropology and Donald Wilson Professor of Enterprise and Leadership.

Sarah Henderson ’16 and Liz Nelson ’17 decided to tackle the project proposed by the Grinnell Historical Museum — increasing attendance, which has been decreasing in recent years. Museum board members asked Henderson and Nelson to research why people weren’t using the museum and what could be done to get more people in the door.

Understanding the Community

Henderson and Nelson conducted interviews with community members who have extensive knowledge of museums. They also conducted random interviews with townspeople and Grinnell students on the street and in the local coffee shop to find out what could be done to attract more people to the museum.

“The experience taught me a lot of practical skills about how to approach people I didn’t know, which I was nervous about at first,” Nelson says. “I feel more confident approaching someone about my research, and we ended up having some really great conversations and learning a lot.”

Henderson, who has been interested in museums for much of her time at Grinnell, relished the opportunity to learn to apply what she’s learned in class to an organization in the community.  “Actually getting to work on a real project for real people has been incredible. I care about it a lot because it feels like something meaningful and real is going to be done based on our work,” says Henderson

Solving the Problem

After a semester of research, Henderson and Nelson wrote a final report with recommendations for the museum, which they presented to the board of directors. “The board was extremely receptive and is moving forward with several of our suggestions,” says Henderson.

One of those suggestions was incorporating a student intern at the museum during the school year to establish a better connection between the museum and the College. The museum has hired several to begin work this summer.

Putting New Skills to Good Use

But the museum wasn’t the only party to benefit from this research experience. In an interview for a graduate school program in museum administration, Henderson was able to talk about the project and what it taught her about the possibility of starting a museum consulting business. “The director was thrilled, and I actually got accepted into that program later that week,” says Henderson.

Nelson adds, “This practicing anthropology class has been my favorite anthropology course, because you always read about theories and ethnographies, but actually getting to do something with that knowledge is so much fun!”

 “It all comes back to the same set of skills that anthropologists employ,” Roper says. “Learning that by doing a project of your own in the community really shows students how to apply those abilities creatively.”

Sarah Henderson ’16 is an anthropology/art history double major from Wilton, Iowa.

Liz Nelson ’17 is an anthropology major from Grinnell, Iowa.

2016 Creative Writing Contest Winners

The winners of this year’s creative writing contests are:

Nick Adams Short Story

Nelson Ogbuagu ’16, winner — $1000 for “Playing It Safe”

Grace Lloyd ’16, honorable mention — for “Crush”

James Norman Hall '10 Aspiring Writer Award

Alejandra Rodriguez Wheelock ’17 — $2000 for “The Basic Principles of Long Distance Running”

Selden Whitcomb Prize

Clara Trippe ’18, winner — $500 for “The Year of Cicadas; Lechuguilla Cave; Atmosphere; and Yours: Flesh and Ground”

Maya Elliott ’18, 2nd prize — $100 for “Bruises, CHURCHGOING, A HYMNAL?; and The Physicality of Atheism”

Emma Soberano ’17, 2nd prize — $100 for “Mi papá me llama ‘chile’; Duloxetine, 30 mg; Bruises are like post-it notes; and Cielito Lindo”

Henry York Steiner Memorial Prize for Short Fiction

Emma Soberano ’17, winner — $500 for “Sex”

Josie Sloyan ’18, 2nd prize — $100 for “Long Way Out”

Emma Thomasch ’16, 2nd prize — $100 for “Hold Your Peace”

Lorabel Richardson Prize, Academy of American Poets

Maya Elliott ’18 — $100 for “Witchblood: A Fantasy”

Examining Grinnell’s Culture

Grinnell is a secular institution, but does that mean students have to leave their religion at the classroom door?

Olivia Queathem ’17 is part of an unusual group Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) in religious studies that may help answer that question. Queathem and five other student researchers are conducting focus groups this spring to gather data for the Grinnell Religious Diversity Project.

The grant-funded study is exploring issues of religion, religious culture, and religious diversity on campus. The project focuses, in part, on whether classrooms in an intentionally secular environment are affected by, or in some cases impinge upon, students’ closely held religious beliefs and experiences.

Strong Emotions

“There can be some pretty strong emotional attachments to what’s being talked about,” Queathem says, “and it’s a really difficult balance to find a classroom climate that feels open so that people can say what they’re feeling and ask honest questions.

“The professors are always looking for better ways to make sure that students feel safe in the classroom expressing their views through respectful dialogue,” Queathem adds.

Project directors Tim Dobe, associate professor of religious studies, and Caleb Elfenbein, assistant professor of religious studies and history, are helping students establish the parameters for the research. But it’s the students who are driving the process.

Honest Conversations

A key goal for the MAP participants, says Alexandra Odom ’16, is to “create a project that shows people what the realities of religion are on campus.” One of their first tasks was to formulate questions that would foster open and honest conversations in their respective focus groups.

“People are used to not talking about religion and keeping it part of their private lives,” says Odom. “We have to be very intentional about how we create a space where people feel comfortable talking about their religious beliefs and engaging with people who may or may not have similar beliefs.”

Odom says the first round of focus groups indicate that students who feel personally shaped by their religion are willing to share and wish more people on campus would ask questions about their faith.

Opportunity to Speak

“It seems like people have been waiting for this opportunity to speak,” Odom says. “Even people who don’t align themselves with a religion are willing to talk, especially if they grew up in a setting where religion was always present, even if they weren’t directly involved.”

Promoting honest dialogue will not only help define the range and depth of religious experience on campus, Odom says. It will ultimately help researchers understand religious diversity in the context of core Grinnell values like self-governance.

“Grinnell prides itself on students looking out for each other,” Odom says. “We can’t promote the health and wellness of the community if we have no idea what that community is. To identify religious populations that are present is the first step to serving those populations in a way that’s meaningful for them so they can have a great experience here, too.”

Identifying Campus Culture

Since February, the MAP students have been journaling personal impressions of their research experience on a blog. For Jaya Vallis ’16, having a place for personal introspection is helpful.

“We talked a lot about objectivity, self-reflexivity, and trying to remove our own biases when we were designing questions and talking to our interviewees,” Vallis says. “I recognized almost immediately even in just describing this project to people that I had to identify and separate out my own personality.”

Vallis says the research group also discussed techniques for talking to interviewees in order to identify what people think campus culture actually is and how religious diversity plays a part in it.

“‘Campus culture is a very vague term,” Vallis says. “Once we get an idea of what it is, we’ll be better able to identify ways to maybe implement policy changes or the creation of new spaces on campus.”

Valuable Experience

By semester’s end, the MAP students will produce a group paper that will help inform future phases of the three-year study. Among the skills gained in designing and implementing the focus group process is Institutional Review Board training necessary for ethical research involving human subjects.

“Religion touches a lot of aspects of our society, and it’s really interesting to see how it overlaps with other spheres of influence in terms of how people live their daily lives,” Queathem says.

“I know that I want to do something that helps people in a concrete way, whether that ends up being activism or nonprofit work,” Queathem says. “This is valuable experience in terms of giving me an actual research opportunity that I haven’t had before so I’ll get to see if I like it or not.” 

Olivia Queathem ’17 is a religious studies major from Grinnell. Alexandra Odom ’16 is a history major from Baltimore. Jaya Vallis ’16 is a psychology and religious studies double major from Washington, D.C.

Woodland Wildflower Hike at CERA

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 - 4:45pm to 6:15pm

 

Join CERA Manager Elizabeth Hill on a 1.5 mile spring ephemeral wildflower hike at CERA. Wear sturdy walking shoes and long pants to explore the spring ephemeral wildflowers at CERA!

Van leaves from Rosenfield Center drop-off zone at 4:15 p.m. Hike starts 4:45 p.m. at CERA, meet at Environmental Education Center.

Email Elizabeth Hill to reserve transportation.

Artistic Collaborations Online

Sasha Middeldorp ’18 and Arch Williams ’18, both members of Grinnell Singers, are helping launch a new project called the Grinnell Virtual Choir. In the project's most recent video, 25 singers used the technology to perform a movement from Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil.

In a virtual choir, each participant records one or more individual singing parts of a particular song, and the videos are then synchronized and combined into a group performance.

In the current video, Middeldorp and Williams are among the singers testing virtual choir technology and demonstrating how it works. It’s the first step in introducing both a testing tool for better choir singing and a new opportunity for musical interaction among alumni and current students.

User Friendly

Middledorp says she found her initial singing experience to be “simple and straightforward” from a technological standpoint. “I only had to practice once or twice to figure out some of the logistics,” Middeldorp says. “I was in a practice room, and I just recorded it on whatever video recorder is built in on the computer and watched John [Rommereim] conduct on the same device.”

Williams did the same “after finding a quiet spot in my house where I could sing,” he says. “I did a couple of takes before submitting my video. I adjusted based on the recordings of my own voice and as I got a better handle on the music.”

Taking Ownership

One of the goals of the virtual choir project is to develop innovative approaches to teaching and learning. Using videos to record individual parts may provide a better way to test and evaluate the contribution of singers and improve their accountability in the chorus.

“Often in choir you think you know your lines but you’re just relying on the person next to you,” Middeldorp says. “When it’s just you singing alone you really take ownership over the music. One of the great benefits of this is that you know if you’re truly solid on your part independently.”

The Grinnell Singers have already begun putting virtual choir technology to the test as a rehearsal tool. They are using it to practice Duruflé’s Requiem for a combined concert with the Grinnell Oratorio Society later this spring.

“I think that using virtual choir capabilities will be an exciting experience and will help us learn the music in a new, cool, and different way then we normally do in class,” Williams says.

Learning the Technology

Austin Morris ’15, a mathematics major and Grinnell Singers alumnus, is the talent behind the scenes. He says learning to synchronize audio and video files from various devices has been challenging but worthwhile. Innovation Fund support for the project helped secure dedicated equipment for his work.

“Once we get the videos from all the people that we contact, it’s my job to put them all together in the final project,” Morris says. “My goal is to make it look as good and complete as possible.”

Fun and Inspiring

“The main goal of the Grinnell Virtual Choir is to create an online platform that facilitates choral performances that are connected virtually,” says John Rommereim, Blanche Johnson Professor of Music. “It’s a way to engage alumni in an artistic way so they can collaborate with current students and with each other.”

Current singers and alumni are invited to contribute additional vocal parts on All-Night Vigil and other works via the website. In addition to instructions for accessing the score and conducting video, the site offers musical and technical tips for getting a workable recording.

Essentially, singers can make it as simple as putting on earbuds and singing into their phones or laptops.

“We want it to be fun and a little inspiring,” Rommereim says. “We’re hoping it will blossom into a significant artistic endeavor.” 

Sasha Middeldorp ’18 is an anthropology major from Northfield, Minn. Arch Williams ’18 is a chemistry and political science double major from Minneapolis.

Dutch Global Horizons and Phi Beta Kappa

Larry SilverLarry Silver, Farquhar Professor of Art History at the University of Pennsylvania, will present a Scholars' Convocation, "Dutch Global Horizons," at 11 a.m. Thursday, April 28, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. The event is free and open to the public.

Silver's presentation is part of Grinnell's Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program. New members of Phi Beta Kappa will be announced at the beginning of the convocation.

Silver describes his presentation as an exploration of the imagery of the seaborne empire of the Netherlands during the Golden Age of the 17th century, when Dutch ships plied the oceans and established commercial and political links with bold Old World Asia and New World Latin America. He also notes that images of India and East Asia, as well as the short-lived Dutch colony in Brazil, permitted armchair travelers in Amsterdam to experience the globe as never before.

Silver, who received his bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and his master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard University, is a specialist in painting and graphics of Northern Europe. He focuses primarily on works produced in Germany and the Netherlands during the era of Renaissance and Reformation. He has served as president of the College Art Association and the Historians of Netherlandish Art. He recently was honored with the University of Pennsylvania’s Lindback Award for Teaching Excellence. 

His publications include Rubens, Velázquez, and the King of Spain, Rembrandt’s Faith, Peasant Scenes and Landscapes, Hieronymus Bosch and a general survey, Art in History. He has organized a number of print exhibitions, among them Grand Scale: Monumental Prints in the Age of Dürer and Titian and Graven Images, dealing with professional engravers of the 16th-century Netherlands.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Room 101 in the Rosenfield Center is equipped with an induction hearing loop system, which enables individuals with hearing aids set to T-Coil to hear the program. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations and Events.

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.

 

The Trials of a Translator

Ivanka HahnenbergerIvanka Hahnenberger, managing director of Ireland-based VIP-Licensing, will visit Grinnell College to give a reading on Wednesday, May 4.

The reading, which is free and open to the public, is titled "Options and Selections: The Trials of a Translator." It will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Faulconer Gallery, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Hahnenberger, who has lived and worked in several countries around the world, now resides in Paris. Her experience spans multiple industries and business types, but always in an international forum. She is experienced in international investment banking, advertising, feature, live broadcast and animation co-productions, digital start-ups, rights management and more.

She also has managed large international divisions, as well as digital start-ups, including one that was sold to Google.

Currently she is managing director of VIP Brands — a licensing company based in Ireland — that focuses on bringing international graphic novels and comics to North America. This project includes translating comics, graphic novels, fiction, non-fiction and much more — including a New York Times bestseller.

Having spent part of her childhood in Switzerland, Hahnenberger has a love for BDs, an abbreviation of bandes dessinées (literally drawn strips) first created for Belgian French audiences. This has led to her dedication to bringing European content to the U.S., which has resulted in the launch of four graphic novel and comic imprints, one publishing company based on European content, as well as two New York Times bestsellers.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Bucksbaum Center for the Arts has accessible parking in the lot behind the building north of Sixth Avenue. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations and Events.

Writers@Grinnell: Alissa Nutting

Award-winning author Alissa Nutting will read from her work and discuss writing on Friday, April 22nd as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College. The free, public event will start at 4:15 p.m. in the Burling Library Lounge.

Alissa Nutting authored the short story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and GirlsAlissa Nutting photoselected by judge Ben Marcus as winner of the 6th Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction, and the novel, Tampa. A new novel is forthcoming from Ecco in early 2017. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, Fence, BOMB, Elle, The New York Times, Conduit, and O: The Oprah Magazine, as well as the fairy tale anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. She holds and master's in fine arts from the University of Alabama, and a doctorate from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She is currently at work on two television pilots, teaches in UNLV’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, housed at the Black Mountain Institute, and is currently a visiting writer at Grinnell College in Iowa.

In addition, the winners of this year’s Creative Writing Contests will be announced after the reading.