Home » Future Students

Future Students

Christopher Kloeble, Author of "Almost Everything Very Fast", Visits Grinnell College

The  Grinnell College German Department presents a book talk with German author Christopher Kloeble on Tuesday, March 8, at 4 pm in Burling Lounge. Kloeble will discuss his latest novel, Almost Everything Very Fast, translated from the German by Aaron Kerner and published by Graywolf Press in February of this year.Christopher Kloeble's book

Kloeble’s novel is set in a Bavarian village and centers on Albert, a 19-year-old who was raised in an orphanage, and Fred, who is an older man but child-like due to brain damage suffered long ago. The two set off together to investigate Albert’s past, and as their journey progresses, his complicated history is revealed. In its November 2015 review of the book, Publisher’s Weekly called the novel “disturbing [and] ultimately moving” and stated that “Kloeble’s cinematic vision and vivid storytelling encompass a range of human emotion and iniquity.” Copies of the novel will be available during the March 8 book talk.

Christopher Kloeble was born in Munich in 1982 and currently lives in Berlin and Dehli. In 2014, he was a Grinnell College Writer-in-Residence, and he most recently served as a guest professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Kloeble is the author of three novels, a collection of short stories, several plays, and the script for the movie Inklusion. Almost Everything Very Fast is Kloeble’s first book to be published in English.

For more information about the author and his latest novel, please visit his website.

Visualizing Mass Communications and State Institutions in Wartime China (1937-45)

In China, the study of history has always gone hand-in-hand with the study of geography. When studying China’s modern history, however, focus has shifted toward large-scale processes, such as revolution, and large-scale sociological transformations, such as changing class relations. More recently, however, some historians are starting to bring geography back in. Pathbreaking endeavors such as the China Historical GIS project and Harvard University WorldMap platform-based ChinaMap allow researchers to visualize the transformation of China across space and time. The result has been a new understanding of China and Chinese history highlighting the spatial distribution of ethnic and linguistic diversity, economic development, elite networks, and state institutions. One exciting result of this new understanding is that it allows students and researchers alike to visualize large-scale processes across time periods, which can in turn lead to new questions about how different places might have experienced the same era or event. Through the use of spatial approaches, we are challenged to rethink the applicability of national historical narratives to local human landscapes.

As a teacher and researcher of East Asian history, much of what I do focuses on how media, institutions, and person-to-person networks have connected the modern Chinese state to populations both inside and outside of China. Working in tandem with DASIL, I have begun to build and visualize datasets which describe how the “connective tissue” of state-building looked during the period of China’s War of Resistance to Japan (1937-1945)—a period of intense destruction and dislocation which some historians have also described as key period of modernization. This data is drawn from two editions of The China Handbook: a publication of the Chinese Ministry of Information released in 1943 and again in 1946. I discovered this publication quite by happenstance while searching the Grinnell College Library collections for local gazetteer data related to the period of China’s Republican Era (1911-1949). The value of The China Handbook is that it provides comprehensive provincial and urban data for a number of indicators of state development; here we (myself and DASIL’s outstanding post-bac fellow, Bonnie Brooks ’15) have focused on data concerning communications, education, and health care. To be fair, and as admitted by The China Handbook’s original editor, Hollington K. Tong, this data is not exhaustive, nor is it necessarily reliable given the rapidity of changes brought about by war and resulting partition of China into competing political zones. It does, however, represent at least a starting point for visualizing what China’s wartime states looked like “on the ground,” viewed through the lens of communications and other institutional infrastructure.

Below the level of national boundaries, modern China is divided into numerous separate administrative units known as provinces. However, the number of provinces has changed with time and successive governments, which poses a challenge for those seeking to visualize data at the province level for eras during which the number of these units was larger than it is today — as was the case during the latter half of the Republican Era, which witnessed a proliferation of efforts to tame China’s restive and geopolitically fragile borders through the process of province-building. A key part of Bonnie’s contribution, then — the results of which will hopefully be used and refined by other researchers working at the intersection of geographic information systems (GIS) and modern Chinese history — was the creation of new shapefiles corresponding to each province that existed during the 1937-1945 period. The resulting maps are thus entirely new creations, and will hopefully serve to help bridge the current gap which lies between geospatial research on imperial China and research on contemporary China after Mao.  The shapefiles are available for download in DASIL’s Downloadable Data section.

For the map:

  • The Contents button() will display all layers. Unclick the checkbox next to the layer name to hide the layer. To view the legend, click on the “Show Legend” icon () below the layer name.
  • To examine other variables, find the “Change Style” button () below the layer name you wish to view, then select the desired variable from the “Choose an attribute to show” drop-down menu. You may alter the map with colors, symbols or size. You may also alter variables (e.g. normalize variables by population).
  • Click on an individual Chinese province to see available data.
  • The shapefiles featured in the map are available for download on the DASIL website.

Read more at DASIL.

Writers@Grinnell: Edwidge Danticat

Haitian American best selling author and social activist Edwidge Danticat will read from herEdwidge Danticat image work and discuss writing on Thursday, Feb. 25 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.

In addition, Danticat will lead a roundtable discussion, which is free and open to the public, at 4:15 p.m. Feb. 25 in Mears Cottage Living Room.

Edwidge Danticat has written ten books and has received numerous awards and honors, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Story Prize, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.

Edwidge Danticat published her first novel, Breath, Eyes, Memory, at the age of twenty-five. The book was selected for Oprah’s Book Club and was immediately recognized by readers and critics alike as heralding the emergence of a shining new literary talent. Danticat’s profound connection to her native Haiti has not only informed her literary output, but has made her a powerful and passionate advocate.

Her newest book, Claire of the Sea Light, is a stunning new work of fiction that brings us deep into the intertwined lives of a small seaside town where a little girl has gone missing. It was published in 2013, to much critical acclaim.

Previous works include Brother, I’m Dying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was a National Book Award finalist; Krik? Krak!, a National Book Award finalist; The Farming of Bones, an American Book Award winner; and The Dew Breaker, a PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the inaugural Story Prize. Danticat has also received the MacArthur “Genius Grant” and been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere.

Testing Utopia: My Summer MAP

I meet up with my guide in the Argiro Student Center.  She’s a Maharishi Vedic Science (MVS) Ph.D. student at Maharishi University of Management (MUM) in Fairfield, Iowa, and she’s agreed to show me one of the meditation domes today. The two domes are where the many hundreds of practitioners of Transcendental Meditation who live in Fairfield come twice a day to meditate.  The principles of Vastu architecture, the origins of which date back over a  thousand years, require all meditator buildings to be surrounded by a white fence, and as we pass through the gate in the fence surrounding the dome I have a feeling that I've just passed a metaphorical threshold. There's no going back now, you're really in it this time! I think as I close the latch behind us and make sure my face is composed to reveal none of my incredulity, excitement, and skepticism. I turn around and face the Bagambhrini Golden Dome for the lady meditators. Here we go….

This past summer, I completed a Mentored Advanced Project with Professor Andelson in which I conducted seven weeks of ethnographic research in Fairfield (pop. 9,500), the county seat of Jefferson Co. in southeast Iowa.  I engaged in participant-observation and conducted interviews with a focus on the surprisingly numerous sustainability initiatives in Fairfield.   Among the questions we addressed were why so many sustainability projects were occurring in Fairfield and whether the community’s accomplishments in this area could be models for other communities such as Grinnell.  My final report, “A Taste of Utopia: Cultivating a Community of Sustainability in Fairfield, Iowa (PDF)", is posted on the Center for Prairie Studies website.

While I was pleased with the outcome of the MAP and the paper, I did not feel as though I was quite finished with Fairfield.  In particular, I wanted to explore the spirituality component of the town in greater detail.  As part of my MAP research, I learned a lot about the role the Transcendental Meditation Movement has played in fostering sustainability initiatives in Fairfield.  However, the role of the Movement is much larger than its impact on sustainability.  The story of the Meditators’ arrival in Fairfield, their influence on the town’s character, the nature of TM (is it a religion, a philosophy, a world view?), divisions within the Movement, and the Movement’s response to the death of its founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi,  in 2008 are topics I hope to explore in a senior thesis in the spring semester. 

 

Religious Diversity in the Heart of Iowa

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 - 7:30pm
Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101
Timothy Knepper
Professor of Philosophy, Drake University

 

Timothy Knepper, Professor of Philosophy, Drake University

While Christianity may be the most common religion practiced by Iowans, it is not the only one.  Drake University’s “Religions of Des Moines Initiative” is exploring, documenting, and placing Christianity in dialogue with others, including Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, all of which have practitioners and places of worship in Des Moines.  The Initiative’s goal is to develop and practice a philosophy of religion that is diverse.

Timothy Knepper is a professor of philosophy at Drake University, where he chairs the Department of Philosophy and Religion and directs The Comparison Project, a public program in comparative philosophy of religion. He teaches and publishes in the philosophy of religion, comparative religion, late ancient Neoplatonism, and mystical discourse. He is the author of books on the future of the philosophy of religion (The Ends of Philosophy of Religion, Palgrave, 2013) and the sixth-century Christian mystic known as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (Negating Negation, Wipf & Stock, 2014). He is currently working on an edited collection on "Comparative Grammars of Ineffability," a textbook on "Global Philosophy of Religion," and a photo-illustrated book on the "Religions of Des Moines.”

This event is co-sponsored by the Center for Prairie Studies and the Department of Religious Studies.
 

So You Think You Can Write

Grinnell alumni return to campus for a two-day symposium on written communication Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20, 2016.

The free, public symposium features informational panels, writing challenges, an internship and information fair, and plenty of opportunities to talk directly with successful alumni in the field.

Schedule

Friday, Feb. 19

4 p.m. Freelance Writing Panel
Tequia Burt ’98, Courtney Sherwood ’00, and Molly McArdle ’09
Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302
5:30 p.m. Dinner (Open only to those who preregistered by Feb. 12)
Rosenfield Center, Room 101

Saturday, Feb. 20

10 a.m. Writing Challenge Events
Students can take part in writing challenges judged by
Christa Desir ’96 and Katie In ’13.
Rosenfield Center, Room 101
12:30 p.m. Lunch With Alumni
Rosenfield Center Marketplace,
Rooms 224 A and B
2 p.m. Writing Careers: Years in the Making Panel
Dan Weeks ’80, Jeanne Pinder ’75, Jim Bickal ’82, and Molly Backes ’02
Rosenfield Center, Room 101
3:30 p.m. Internship and Information Fair
Speak one-on-one with our guest alumni.
Bucksbaum Center for the Arts rotunda
5 p.m. Networking Hour with Alumni
Refreshments will be served.
Rosenfield Center, second floor lobby
6 p.m. Dinner (Open only to those who preregistered by Feb. 12)
Rosenfield Center, Room 101

Guest Alumni Panelists

M. Molly Backes ’02

M. Molly Backes ’02 is the author of the young adult novel The Princesses of Iowa (Candlewick Press, 2012), which was named Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Fiction for Teens (2013) and Forever Young Adult’s Best YA Books of 2012 and was a finalist on NPR.org’s Best-Ever Teen Novels list in 2012. She has performed her personal essays at reading series including Essay Fiesta, Funny Ha-Ha, Is This a Thing?, and Sunday Salon and is a frequent guest at writing conferences and festivals across the country. Since graduating from Grinnell, Backes has had a number of careers, including middle school English teacher, wildlife conservation educator, arts administrator, marketing department copy writer/editor, and writing coach. She is currently an M.F.A. candidate at Iowa State University, where she teaches composition and creative writing.

Jim Bickal ’82

Jim Bickal ’82 began his career in 1984 as an unpaid intern for Minnesota Public Radio News. He has worked as a reporter and producer for MPR and Twin Cities Public Television. Some of the stories he has covered include the Minnesota Twins’ improbable 1987 World Series championship, the election of Jesse Ventura as governor of Minnesota in 1998, the 2002 Minnesota Senate campaign after the death of Paul Wellstone, and the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007. He has produced two hour-long radio documentaries. One traces a song (“The Rock Island Line” by Little Richard) to its origins, and the other looks at how growing up in Minnesota shaped Bob Dylan’s music. He is currently developing a podcast centered around the events of May 10, 2013. That’s when an unarmed man fleeing arrest broke into Bickal’s home in Minneapolis and was killed by police officers in his basement.

Tequia Burt ’98

Tequia Burt ’98 is a veteran editor and writer with more than 10 years of experience covering marketing, business, media and government. Before becoming a freelancer last year, she was editor in chief of FierceCMO. Burt earned her M.S.J. from Medill in 2005.

Christa Soule Desir ’96

Christa Soule Desir ’96 writes contemporary fiction for young adults. Her novels include Fault Line, Bleed Like Me, and Other Broken Things. She lives with her husband, three children, and overly enthusiastic dog outside Chicago. She is a founding member of the Voices and Faces Project, a nonprofit organization for rape survivors that conducts an international survivor-based testimonial writing workshop, including working with incarcerated teens. She also works as a romance editor at Samhain Publishing and once a week can be found working the stacks at Anderson’s Bookshop.

Katie In ’13

Katie In ’13 is an interdisciplinary media artist and musician based in Grinnell. She graduated from Grinnell College in 2013 with a B.A. in sociology and was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and recipient of the Ladies Education Society Award. A socially-minded observer of the world and creator of things, In uses video, music, and performance to tell stories and communicate ideas. She is part of the collaborative group Tiny Circus as well as the Midwest-based collective and band called The Plain Mosaic.

Molly McArdle ’09

Molly McArdle ’09 is Brooklyn Magazine’s books editor and a regular contributor to Travel + Leisure. She’s also founding editor of The Rumpus’ Tumblr (The Rumblr) and the creator of The Daily GIF. Her essays, criticism, and reporting have appeared in The Believer, the Los Angeles Review of Books, BuzzFeed, The Rumpus, Atlas Obscura, Bitch Magazine, Pacific Standard, Audubon Magazine, The Oyster Review, Fusion, and Library Journal, where she was an editor on the book review. She was a member of Grinnell’s first D.C. Posse and is working on a novel.

Jeanne Pinder ’75

Jeanne Pinder ’75 is founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts.com, a New York City journalism startup bringing transparency to the health care marketplace by telling people what stuff costs. She founded ClearHealthCosts after volunteering for a buyout in 2009 from The New York Times, where she worked for almost 25 years as an editor, reporter and human resources executive. Pinder is a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. She was born and raised in Grinnell. She started working as a journalist in middle school at The Grinnell Herald-Register, her family’s twice-weekly independent paper. Before The Times, she also worked at The Des Moines Register and The Associated Press. She is a graduate of Grinnell College with a bachelor’s in Russian and studied Slavic linguistics in graduate school at Indiana University. She used to teach Russian, and she lived for a time in what was then the Soviet Union.

Courtney Sherwood ’00

Courtney Sherwood ’00 worked in newspapers for 12 years, first as a reporter then as an editor, before frustrations with the shrinking print industry prompted her to quit her day job to freelance in 2012. She continues to cover hard news from Portland, Ore., with pieces appearing in a wide range of outlets, including Science magazine online, Vice, The Irish Times, the Canadian Broadcast Corp., and many others. Most of her time is divided between NPR-affiliate Oregon Public Broadcasting, where she is a radio editor and web producer; Thompson Reuters, a news service for which she is one of two Oregon correspondents; and The Lund Report, which publishes her wonky analyses of how money moves the health care industry.

Dan Weeks ’80

Dan Weeks ’80 majored in American Studies at Grinnell and earned an M.A. in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa Graduate Writing Program. He has spent the past  30-plus years as a magazine and book writer, photographer, editor, ghostwriter, editorial manager, publishing consultant, and freelancer. His magazine profiles, features, essays, and photographs on subjects ranging from adventure travel to zinnias have appeared in dozens of national, international, and regional magazines. His book Deadliest Catch: Desperate Hours, a companion to the Emmy-nominated reality show about Bering Sea crab fishermen, was a Discovery Channel best seller. He edited The Grinnell Magazine from 2010–2013 and currently edits The Iowan magazine.

Antibiotic Resistance and Microbial Diversity

Shannon Hinsa-LeasureShannon Hinsa-Leasure, associate professor of biology, along with her students and collaborators, are researching ways to develop novel technology to study the diversity of antibiotic-resistance genes and how the genes can be transferred between bacteria.

The research is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant of $999,346 awarded to a team of researchers including Hinsa-Leasure, along with her collaborators at Iowa State University and the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

In addition, Hinsa-Leasure has received a one-year $20,262 grant from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture to expand on the USDA grant by investigating bacterial community structure in soils fertilized with animal manure. Both grants will support undergraduate research at Grinnell College.

The grants will enable researchers to monitor hundreds of genes related to antibiotic resistance, the spread of resistance, and microbial diversity in environmental samples at one time, providing a more in-depth characterization of environments than current technologies. The technologies can be used for many types of environments including, hospitals, farms and water systems, and will allow researchers to study if and how antibiotic resistance genes move in particular environments.

“I am delighted that Shannon has received these grants that will create new opportunities for our students to conduct collaborative, cutting-edge research,” says Michael Latham, dean of Grinnell College. “This research reinforces Grinnell’s commitment to active scholarship and inquiry-led learning opportunities that reach beyond our campus.”

Adina Howe, assistant professor in agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State, leads the three-year USDA grant. This grant will support technology development, field sampling, laboratory experiments and workshops to disseminate the open-access bioinformatics pipelines to the broader research community.

“I feel very fortunate to be collaborating with a tremendous team of scientists, who are all sharing their expertise to address an important environmental issue — how do we detect and monitor movement of antibiotic-resistance genes in the environment,” Hinsa-Leasure says.

Hinsa-Leasure, an environmental microbiologist, first began investigating antibiotic-resistance genes in the environment near Grinnell in 2014. This project was instigated by one of her former students, Evan Griffith ’15, who was interested and concerned about the local environment.

“Evan and I began this work with a directed reading course to learn what was happening in the field,” recalls Hinsa-Leasure. “That course led us to the USDA in Ames and the development of a partnership that continues to flourish today.”

“I am excited that this project is continuing and that I made a small contribution,” says Griffith, who received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Grinnell. He recently returned from Australia, where he worked as a research intern on a project between Arid Recovery and the University of New South Wales. He hopes to pursue a master’s degree in conservation medicine at Tufts University.

Griffith is one of eight Grinnell undergraduates who already have participated in the project he and Hinsa-Leasure initiated.

“I am thrilled,” Hinsa-Leasure says, “that through this funding additional Grinnell students will have access to cutting-edge technologies and bioinformatics, which will allow us to advance the field.”

College to Buy Grinnell Golf and Country Club

Grinnell Golf and Country Club membership voted in a special meeting Tuesday, Feb. 9, in favor of the College's purchase of the Club. The vote was 107-1. The Club's Board also unanimously approved the sale.

Club representatives approached the College about a possible sale late last summer. Under the terms of the College's 2001 investment in the Club, it has first right of refusal on any proposed sale. After meeting with the Club representatives, the College began exploring its options and conducting preliminary due diligence. A purchase agreement was completed in January, and agreement on terms was reached shortly thereafter.

The purchase includes the grounds, buildings, and equipment. The College intends to operate the Club as a public golf course. The swimming pool is also planned as a public facility, pending assessment of its condition and necessary repairs. All existing contracts for use of the facilities will be honored. The College will pay taxes on the property to the City of Grinnell.

As transition plans take shape, the College will update Club membership accordingly.

According to Kate Walker, vice president for finance and treasurer for the College, the purchase of 56 acres directly adjacent to campus is a win-win for the College and the community.

“It preserves a treasured community resource whose history is deeply tied to the College's,” Walker says. “Founded by College faculty in 1899, the Club's sale in some ways brings things full circle. The College sees this sale as an opportunity to continue to operate the Club as a value-add for the community. Furthermore, acquiring the Club protects the College and the community against the risk of purchase and loss of this prime property to another party.”

The goal, Walker adds, is to complete the transaction in time to open the course for the 2016 season.

Ignite Institute for Middle/High School

Middle and high school students can learn salsa dancing, international cooking, storytelling, political campaigning, spear throwing and more at the first Ignite Institute on Saturday, March 5, at Grinnell College.

The College will launch the Ignite Institute with a day of free, fun and fascinating academic mini-courses taught on campus by Grinnell College student teachers.

Ashley Schaefer“These engaging mini-courses will be fun and accessible to students, plus they will introduce them to the physical environment of a college campus, helping to develop college readiness,” said Ashley Schaefer, director of the Careers in Education Professions program.

“The Grinnell College students who teach the courses gain experience developing a course from start to finish, build their organization and planning skills, and get a taste of the complexities of teaching,” Schaefer added. “Most teachers sign up because of their desire to contribute to the Grinnell community and because they love the topics they plan to teach.”

With this new crop of 44 teachers conducting mini-courses for middle and high school students, more than 180 students at Grinnell College will have taught an Ignite course within two years.

Ignite is open to all Iowa students in grades 7-12 who wish to attend. All participants will receive a free T-shirt, lunch, and snack. Students are welcome to take either a morning or afternoon mini-course, or both. Registration is open and continues through Friday, Feb. 26.

The Ignite Institute is inspired by the successful Ignite Program, which offers free courses to students from pre-kindergarten through the sixth grade. The program began last year, and by last November, 256 students had registered for the Ignite Program's 21 mini-courses.

The 21 mini-courses offered on March 5 are designed for specific age groups. For example, seventh and eighth-graders will choose from seven courses, including How to Take Over the World Using Algorithms and Robots as well as Tour de France: Food Edition!

Ninth and tenth-graders also will have seven courses to select from, including GMZ: Grinnell's Celebrity Hot Seat and Amazing Atlatls: Spear-Throwing Fun. Among the seven courses for 11th and 12th graders are The Nature versus Nurture Debate and Lay Down the Law.

Morning check-in will begin at 10:15 a.m. for students who haven’t already picked up their information folders and T-shirts from Schaefer the week of Ignite. Check-in will take place in the lobby of Alumni Recitation Hall, 1226 Park St., Grinnell.

Students who already have their information will head directly to their classrooms and classes will start promptly at 10:30 a.m. Students in middle school must be signed in by an adult. There will be a lunch break for all students at 12:30 p.m., at which time parents of middle school students who have not signed up for an afternoon course may pick up their students.

The afternoon session will start at 1 p.m. and students will be dismissed at 3 p.m. Parents should pick up their middle school students. High school students do not need a parent to drop them off or pick them up.

Making the Ignite programs possible are Grinnell College Careers in Education Professions and Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement, as well as a generous gift from Helen Redmond and Pete Brownell.

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

Cultural Immersion

Caleigh Ryan ‘17, an English major, spent her fall off campus in Madurai, India on the South India Term Abroad (SITA) program. In this video from SITA, Caleigh and the Syed family discuss the bonds and memories they formed with a home stay.