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Grinnellians Earn Esteemed Watson Fellowships

Lane Atmore ’16 of St. Paul, Minn., and Chase Booth ’16 of Wichita, Kan., have been awarded the prestigious Watson Fellowship for one year of independent study and travel abroad.

They are two of 40 students selected nationwide to receive the $30,000 fellowship for postgraduate study from the Thomas J. Watson Foundation.

The students’ projects will take them around the world during their Watson year.

Lane Atmore

Lane AtmoreAtmore, an anthropology and Chinese major, will travel to Guam, Micronesia, Thailand, Greenland, Russia, and Greece to examine “Boat Culture as Island Identity” in coastal communities.

She plans to attend festivals, live with local families, and work with boat builders and cultural leaders to study the relationship between boat culture and island identity. She hopes to be able to find some universal aspects of island culture, as well as see how climate change and globalization have impacted traditional island communities.

“I’m most excited about deepening my appreciation and knowledge of something that I love and also understanding how much it means to the people I will be living with,” Atmore said. “I’m going into this with no expectations and an open mind, excited to learn what the world has to teach me.”

“Lane put a great deal of thought, passion and effort into crafting her wonderfully original Watson proposal,” said Jon Andelson ’70, professor of anthropology. “I know from having supervised her summer MAP (Mentored Advanced Project) research last summer that she will bring an open mind, a discerning eye, and a boundless curiosity to her Watson project.”

An accomplished pianist, Atmore won a piano competition despite breaking her right elbow and learning a one-handed piece only three days before the contest.

Following her Watson year, Atmore plans to pursue a doctorate in anthropology and continue to do field research.

Chase Booth

Chase BoothBooth, a classics major, will journey to Australia, South Africa, Greece, and Ireland to study the different forms of support offered in response to a community’s shared emotional crisis.

His project, “Emotional Support in Communities Under Duress,” will investigate whether the support offered by government-funded agencies and nongovernmental organizations is responsive to the needs of various communities. These communities include the displaced aboriginal populations in Australia, black youth and students in South Africa, sexual assault victims-survivors in Ireland, and victims of the economic crisis in Greece.

“While traveling around the world is obviously a huge part of the Watson and something I am looking forward to, having the opportunity to pursue something I love and care about in depth will surely be the most rewarding part of my year abroad,” Booth said. “I can’t thank enough everyone who has helped me get to this point in my life.”

“I am thrilled for Chase” said Monessa Cummins, associate professor of classics and Booth’s faculty adviser. “He embraced academic and personal challenges at Grinnell and is now well poised to take on the rigors and opportunities of a Watson year abroad.”

Booth served as co-leader of Grinnell Monologues, a student group in which participants write and present essays on emotional well-being and self-perception.

After his Watson year, Booth hopes to work for a program similar to the Schuler Scholar Program, which provides support to underprivileged Chicago-area high school students going to selective universities. Then he intends to apply to law school and pursue opportunities in civil and human rights law.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship Program offers college graduates of unusual promise a year of independent exploration and travel outside the United States to foster effective participation in the world community.

Grinnell has been a partner with the Watson program since it was established in 1968. With the announcement of this year’s Watson Fellows, 75 Grinnell students have received this prestigious award.

Learn more about what a fellowship can mean through the journey of Wadzanai Motsi ’12, an earlier Watson winner.

Grinnell College Students Take on the Project Pengyou Leadership Summit

Xenophobia is not a new issue in our society and the Project Pengyou Leadership Summit is helping to end it. This year, the Wilson Program helped Grinnellians attend.

The nationally known leadership summit creates spaces and promotes movements to help end and fight the institutional xenophobia that has plagued our nation throughout history. It promotes collaboration, inclusion, and mutual understanding between Americans and Chinese citizens.

Why Go?

In the fall, three students approached the Wilson Program for funding to attend the summit, held at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California.  

Sophie Wright ’17, a coach at this year’s summit, majors in English and Chinese, so she is able to find a direct correlation between her studies, the program, and Grinnell’s liberal ideologies.

Alethea Cook ’16, a Chinese and economics major and global development studies concentrator, says “I struggled to define myself and write my identity as a Taiwanese-American in Grinnell.” She grew up in a predominantly white small town and talks about how her racial and ethnic background influenced her interactions with peers. She uses her personal experiences as inspiration and hope.

Adam Dalton ’16, an economics and Chinese major, also found connection between his studies and his passions.

Lessons from the Summit

Wright says she “helped the fellows to conceptualize and to apply the material that they had learned as well as to empower them to […] be able to start their own Project Pengyou.”

She also talked about learning how to balance personal life from professional life, which is something many people continue to struggle with. This issue sparked Cooks’ interest in the program; her personal life has affected her professional life.

Cook says she learned that “there is much more to the movement than what [she] had previously thought.” She likes the idea of creating personal relationships with people in order to change the perceptions non-Asian people tend to have of Asian people. She says she was inspired to work on a “person-to-person basis.”

Dalton says he “had little training regarding effective, innovative, and sustainable leadership” before the summit. The Project Pengyou Leadership Summit, he says, facilitated his personal growth and will have lasting benefits for his ability to lead.

Cook, Dalton, and Wright had different experiences that resulted in rather similar outcomes. They all praised the program for teaching them the meaning of leadership and say they gained tools necessary to be effective leaders and innovators.

The Wilson Program encourages students to become leaders in academic and non-academic fields and to become innovators that create awareness and instill paths to a better, more accepting society.  In this case, that means making institutional changes that directly combat xenophobia and racism.

Project Pengyou 

Project Pengyou - Grinnell, Facebook Page

Grinnell Caucus Project

As a first-year Grinnell College student, Suha Gillani ’16 interned for Barack Obama’s campaign. But until taking a short course in January, she had no idea how distinctive and important Iowa is to the presidential selection process, and how the nature of Iowa and Iowans shape the caucuses.

Gillani, an international student from Pakistan, was one of 13 Grinnell students, including 2 from outside the United States, who got an up-close and personal view of presidential candidates campaigning across Iowa during the Grinnell Caucus Project.

During the weeklong, immersive class about the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, the students traversed 1,525 miles and visited a good portion of the state, attending presidential campaign events featuring one Democratic candidate, three Republican candidates, and a former president. The course wrapped up about 2 weeks before the 2016 Iowa caucuses.

Seeing Presidential Candidates Up Close

Before coming to Grinnell, the only political event Caleigh Ryan ’17 had attended was a huge Obama rally in Chicago. But during the course, she and her fellow students listened to Chris Christie give his stump speech in northwest Iowa, noted how Marco Rubio courted voters at a town hall in Ottumwa, and stood shivering in the snow to catch a glimpse of Donald Trump as he left a rally in the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Winterset.

They watched Hillary Clinton, accompanied by singer Demi Lovato, reach out to young voters at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and saw former President Bill Clinton urge Fort Dodge voters to caucus for his wife because of her experience and achievements. 

The course gave Caitlin Scaife ’16 a new appreciation for Iowans’ role in selecting a president, a role that many non-Iowans scoff at and many Iowans take for granted.

“Before taking this course, I don’t think I ever fully realized how important Iowa is in the presidential selection process or how much work goes into the Iowa caucuses,” Scaife says. “This week we’ve met citizens who have gone to several candidate events in order to make their decision.”

Leaving Personal Politics Behind for a Week

To participate, Scaife and her classmates had to apply for admission and meet the prerequisite requirements: Political Parties and The Presidency courses, both taught by Barbara Trish, professor and chair of political science, who designed and taught the two-credit caucus course.  

The course textbook was What It Takes: The Way to the White House by Richard Ben Cramer. The 1,000-page tome about the 1988 presidential election explores candidates from George Bush and Robert Dole to Michael Dukakis and Gary Hart.

The class was structured to get the students out to candidate events, says Trish, who insisted that her charges suspend their personal political beliefs for the duration. “But perhaps more important,” she says, “was to show them that if you dig beneath the surface a little, there’s fascinating work and other aspects of life to uncover related to the caucuses.”

Gaining Insights into Fundraising, Get-Out-the-Vote Efforts

Students also toured the State Capitol with State Rep. Chris Hall ’07, D-Sioux City, and met with Rep. Dave Maxwell, R-Gibson, who represents the Grinnell area. In addition, they talked with political party officials and business leaders.

The national sales manager of KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids discussed trends in political advertising. The vice president of marketing of Pizza Ranch, an Iowa-headquartered restaurant chain with a faith-based mission, explained the context for the key role its franchises play in hosting GOP candidates on the campaign trail.

They gained insights into fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts from the founder of Campaign Headquarters, a call center in Brooklyn, Iowa, that promotes conservative candidates, including Ted Cruz. And they explored the role of PACs in the Iowa caucuses with Rob Barron ’02, political director of NextGen Climate, which advocates policies to prevent climate disaster and to promote prosperity for all Americans.

Megan Settle ’16 documented the course in a series of three photo blogs that show firsthand what the students saw and experienced.

Appreciating How Iowans Participate in Democracy

The students’ main takeaway was an awareness of how tightly the caucuses revolve around Iowa trademark retail politics. Ryan was shocked to learn firsthand that it’s common to see Iowans talking face-to-face with presidential candidates in town halls with fewer than 100 people.

“I think most voters in the country have no idea what a different experience of democracy Iowans enjoy,” she says.

Yanling Xu ’16, an international student from China, noticed that the spectacle of candidates talking in such close proximity to voters revealed a commonality Iowans have with Grinnell students.

“Iowans are as passionate as we are about politics,” she says. “Their questions are sharp and interesting.”

Hearing the candidates speak about how vital Iowans are to the process was energizing and inspiring to Hannah Boggess ’18.

“Candidates and Iowans respect Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status,” she says. “And it’s really incredible that we get to be a part of this unique and important piece of the political process.”

This course was funded by the Wilson Program whose mission is to nurture among our students a critical understanding of leadership and innovation as well as the skills associated with these.

Image of students in front of the Iowa State Capitol courtesy of Megan Settle.

Suha Gillani ’16 is a political science and economics major from Karachi, Pakistan.

Caleigh Ryan ’17 is an English major from Oak Park, Ill.

Caitlin Scaife ’16 is from Rochester, Minn., and is a political science and gender, women’s, and sexuality studies major.

Megan Settle ’16 is a political science and Spanish major from Raymore, Mo.

Yanling Xu ’16 is from Xiamen, China, and a political science major.

Hannah Boggess ’18 is a gender, women’s, and sexuality studies major from Minnetonka, Minn.

For the Global Good

Grinnellians are well-known for their commitment to social justice, but not everyone knows that the College has a formal program for studying individual and global conflicts. In Grinnell’s Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS) program, students combine what they learn from fields as diverse as psychology, political science, anthropology, biology, and environmental studies to better understand the major struggles of the world.

“More than simply looking at the nature and causes of conflict and violence, we try to identify the best ways to prevent or transform conflict to create lasting peace,” says Simone Sidwell, PACS program coordinator.

Examining Conflict and Combat

Emily Ricker ’18 began her PACS research when she took a class entitled Anthropology, Violence, and Human Rights. In class she learned that sexual violence was often used strategically by the military during the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. “I wanted to see if that was the case in other situations of conflict and combat,” says Ricker. “In my paper, I focus on the cases of Partition, the Rwandan genocide, and the Holocaust.”

By learning multiple techniques from different disciplines, PACS students are able to combine many perspectives and skills to target a problem from different angles rather than just limiting themselves to one economic, political, or sociocultural model. Students graduate with experience analyzing problems comprehensively to make the most effective solutions possible.

Sharing Research, Developing Skills

PACS holds an undergraduate conference every other year in which students from Grinnell and other schools come together to share their work and draw inspiration from each other. This year, Ricker presented her paper “Sexual Violence as a Tool of Combat” alongside three other Grinnellians in the panel session “Sexual Violence in War and Peace." Twenty students in total presented at the conference, including students from Macalester, Skidmore, and Antioch College.

Ricker also serves on the PACS committee, helping to bring speakers to campus and to edit the Peace and Conflict Studies Journal. Students who present at the conference have the opportunity to publish their papers in the journal, a chance at scholarly recognition that many college students don’t have until graduate school.

“The entire process of submitting abstracts, presenting their papers, and engaging in a peer review of their papers to get them published gives them an excellent experience,” Sidwell says. “The Peace and Conflict Studies program really empowers students to do well and to ‘do good’ after graduation, to pursue careers or postgraduate studies that help make the world a better place.”

Spanning Disciplines

As the study of peace and conflict spans so many disciplines, the PACS program coordinates with established departments, offering short courses and building PACS-specific classes into the existing curriculum. Students also have the opportunity to enroll in the new pilot course, Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies, which is co-taught by Grinnell faculty and an outside expert in the field. The PACS program hopes to establish itself as a concentration in the future.

Emily Ricker is from Marblehead, Mass., and intends to declare a political science major.

Family physician, writer, professor to discuss family farming at Grinnell College

Thursday, March 10, 2016 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101

Dr. Daphne Miller, a family physician, writer and associate professor of family medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, will discuss “Farmacology: Total Health from the Ground Up” on Thursday, March 10, at Grinnell College.

Her lecture will start at 7:30 p.m. in room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell. She will also lead a roundtable discussion about health professions, alternative medicine and diet at 4 p.m., the same day, in room 152 of the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St., Grinnell. Both events are free and open to the public.

Miller will use her latest book, "Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing," to frame her discussion of family farms. Her lecture will cover all the aspects of farming—from seed choice to soil management—that have a direct and powerful impact on health.

Bridging the traditional divide between agriculture and medicine, Miller will share lessons learned from inspiring farmers and biomedical researchers as she weaves their insights and discoveries, along with stories from her patients, into the narrative.

A practicing family physician, Miller is also a leading scholar on health ecology. Her writings in the field have been published in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Vogue, Orion Magazine, Yes! Magazine, Food and Wine, The Guardian and Harvard Medical Magazine.

Miller has received numerous honors for her achievements in health ecology, including fellowships at the University of California San Francisco, funded by the National Institute of Health, and at the Berkeley Food Institute. She also serves on the boards of a number of non-profits, including Institute of the Golden Gate, Education Outside, Mandela Marketplace and the Edible Schoolyard Foundation.

Sponsoring this event are the Grinnell College Office of the President, Center for Prairie Studies, Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations and Human Rights, Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement, Wellness Program, Chaplain’s Office, Student Environmental Committee and the Student Government Association.

Celebrate Humanities Day

Monday, March 14, 2016 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101

Celebrate Humanities Day on March 14 to feature former U.S. Rep. Jim Leach

Activities will include Leach's keynote address, student performances and a pub quiz

Grinnell College will mark Celebrate Humanities Day, a daylong series of events to honor the study of the humanities, on Monday, March 14.

The keynote speaker will be Jim Leach, who represented Iowa’s second district in the House of Representatives for 30 years and later served as chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Under his leadership, the NEH created a Bridging Cultures program designed to promote understanding and mutual respect for diverse groups within the United States and abroad.

Leach is now chair in public affairs and visiting professor of law in the College of Law at the University of Iowa. His address, titled "Where Politics and Morality Conjoin and Disconnect," will start at 7:30 p.m., in room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell. The speech and all other events during Celebrate Humanities Day are free and open to the public.

This will be Grinnell College’s first Celebrate Humanities Day, which is organized by the college’s Center for the Humanities.

Students will perform at 4 p.m. in Sebring-Lewis Hall of the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St., Grinnell.

Student performances include "Choreography as Research" by seniors Rosie Fuqua, Ivy Kuhn and Taylor Watts,  and "Indo-Jazz Fusion from Banaras to New York," by senior Vincent Kelley and his band. Kelley, drums and tabla; will be joined by seniors Omri Benami, piano; Tom Earnest, bass; and Jacob Ziontz, viola; along with Grinnell College Assistant Professor of Music Mark Laver, saxophone.

The daylong celebration will culminate in a Pub Quiz trivia night at 9 p.m. in Lyle's Pub, in the basement of the Rosenfield Center.
 

Putting a Face on the Gallery

Colorful paper and paint flowers suspended from ceiling For many Grinnellians, on campus and off, Tilly Woodward is the face of Faulconer Gallery. Although much of the effort for running a successful gallery is tucked behind the scenes, Woodward loves the fact that she gets to know students and art lovers of all ages.

"The work I do for the Faulconer Gallery is highly satisfying," she says. "I get to work with all ages of people, and through small interactions help them feel comfortable coming to the gallery and help them engage with art through looking, talking, and creating.

As curator of academic and community outreach, Woodward enjoys helping others learn about and create art. Whether she's "blowing glitter on a truck with children in the parks, helping neuro-diverse adults create self-portraits in clay, working with school children to create large group projects focused on the ideas of beauty and tribute, or working with college classes to help them discover meaning in an artwork through close observation," she says, "they are all the best parts of my jobs."

In her own life, she has made creative engagement a daily habit over decades. She says "that discipline has created skills in seeing, painting, and the ability to create meaning for myself and others through the inspection of small things that might be overlooked in life. It's the accumulation of small things that seems so important to me in life and in art — working again and again until your understanding becomes inherent, small brush strokes adding up to create a painting."

Woodward is an accomplished artist in her own right. Her paintings have been exhibited in hundreds of galleries, museums, and community settings both in America and overseas, and she's earned two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships.

She's also recognized for her work with the community. She won the Iowa Museum Art Educator of the Year 2016 , an award from the Governor in 2006 for Excellence in Cultural Programming, and the Grinnell Prize staff fellowship to Ghana. The staff fellowship, which gave her the chance to work in book arts directly with Ghanan former child slaves, is "probably at the top" of her proudest achievements, Woodward says.

Visit the Faulconer Gallery for information about current and upcoming exhibitions and events.

Writers@Grinnell: Stephanie Ford

Stephanie Ford '95 is next in Writers@Grinnell series.

Stephanie Ford will read from her work and discuss writing on Thursday, March 3 as part of the Writers@Grinnell series at Grinnell College.  The event, which is free and open to the public, will start at 8 p.m. in the Faulconer Gallery in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Stephanie_Ford image

In addition, Ford will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at  4:15 p.m., March 3 in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 209.

Stephanie Ford is the author of All Pilgrim (Four Way Books, 2015). Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Tin House, Boston Review, Harvard Review, and The Iowa Review. She holds a bachelor's degree in studio art from Grinnell and a masters in fine arts in creative writing from the University of Michigan; her honors include the Hopwood Award as well as fellowships from Vermont Studio Center and the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. Originally from Boulder, Colorado, she now lives in Los Angeles, where she has worked as a high school creative writing teacher and, most recently, as a freelance museum editor.