Home » Future Students

Future Students

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.

 

 

Beyond the Shiny New Toy—Next Frontier for Digital Humanities

Joining Database Sites to Better Understand Early Modern Book History

Last summer, a group of three scholars commandeered the Obermann Center attic for a month with the goal of pushing their digital humanities (DH) project into a new phase. The team of Blaine Greteman (English, University of Iowa), James Lee (English, Grinnell College), and David Eichmann (School of Library and Information Science, University of Iowa) worked to link two separate database web sites. One captures the full texts of 25,000 early modern books; the other includes metadata about the makers and sellers of nearly 500,000 books from a 300-year period.

The group was the first recipient of an Iowa Digital Bridges Collaborative Grant, part of the Digital Bridges for Humanistic Inquiry. This multi-year experiment supports a variety of collaborative practices in the humanities and is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The initiative offers faculty members at Grinnell College and the University of Iowa opportunities to work together from 2015 through 2018. 

Lofty Goals

At the heart of their project, “Linked Reading: A New Scalable Model for the Digital Humanities,” was a desire to see how the two datasets could be combined to answer a host of questions about the history of published literary texts, including the impact of those who printed, sold, and circulated these materials. As both Greteman and Lee are Shakespeare scholars, they chose Othello as a test case. Could they garner a new understanding of the play by unifying their datasets, and what technical bumps would they hit along the way?

The loftier goal of the project was the advancement of a field that is arguably still in a very early phase. The three scholars believe that having multiple datasets that can talk to one another and be simultaneously cross-referenced will open new doors for scholars studying literatures of the past as well as for digital humanists. 

“For a long time, DH has been viewed as a shiny new toy,” says Lee. “Just saying ‘isn’t it cool’ isn’t sufficient. We want to move beyond that.”

[Editor's note: The original article states the grant ends in 2019. It ends in 2018.]

Continue reading "Beyond the shiny new toy - next frontier for Digital Humanities."

Carnival and Creativity: Sounding Community in Post-Katrina New Orleans and Post-Quake Haiti

Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 4:30pm

 

Co-sponsored by the Music Department, the Center for the Humanities, the Center for International Studies, and the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.

On August 23, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans. Roughly five years later, on January 12, 2010, a massive earthquake rocked the small island nation of Haiti. These cataclysmic events, this shared experience of trauma, added a further layer of connection between these two regions, already linked by their shared African and French heritage, the legacy of colonialism, and the experience of slavery that made Louisiana and Haiti home to vibrant, thriving Afro-diasporic communities.

February 2016, therefore, represents the 10th and 5th anniversaries (respectively) of the first Pre-Lenten celebrations – Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Haiti – to follow these social and environmental catastrophes. In New Orleans and Port-Au-Prince alike, Carnival did what Carnival always does: it gave the community a chance to come together in solidarity in the face of struggle; it provided an opportunity to heal from trauma; and it offered a moment for people who are often ignored – especially within the upper echelons of global social and economic power – to give voice and movement to their struggles and their triumphs through song and dance and celebration. These Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations showed us the remarkable power that music, dance, and art have to heal and to empower individuals and communities.

On February 11-12 at Grinnell College, we will pay tribute to those individuals and communities with a series of events that mark the 10th and 5th anniversaries of the 2006 and 2011 Carnival celebrations:

• Thursday, Feb. 11, 4:30-6:30pm, BCA 102 - New Orleans Brass Band Workshop with Bennie Pete, tuba and co-founder, Hot 8 Brass Band

• Thursday, Feb. 11, 7:30-9pm, BCA 152 - "If You Don't Like What the Big Queen Says, Just...": An Evening With Queen Reesie (Cherice Harrison-Nelson, curator of the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame and Big Queen of the Guardians of the Flame Mardi Gras Indians)

• Friday, Feb. 12, 4:15-6pm, BCA 152 - Carnival and Creativity Roundtable Discussion
o Discussants: Gage Averill, University of British Columbia; Cherice Harrison-Nelson, Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame; Tess Kulstad, Grinnell College; Bennie Pete, Hot 8 Brass Band; moderated by Mark Laver, Grinnell College

• Friday, Feb. 12, 8-9:30pm, Sebring Lewis - Grinnell Jazz Ensemble Plays the Music of New Orleans, featuring Bennie Pete and Cherice Harrison-Nelson. Directed by Mark Laver.

Grinnell Supports Scholarly Open-Access Publishing

Grinnell College is among nearly 40 liberal arts colleges joining forces with Amherst College Press and the University of Michigan Library to create Lever Press, a new collaborative peer-reviewed, open-access scholarly publishing enterprise.

Grinnell College and Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, are the only Iowa colleges currently supporting Lever Press. Both are members of the Oberlin Group, a consortium of libraries in America’s top liberal arts colleges. Also backing Lever Press are Allegheny College and Ursinus College, which do not belong to the Oberlin Group.

As part of its dedication to complete open access, Lever Press will first make all works freely available to readers on the Internet. The works also will appear in print form wherever possible.

Lever Press is unusual because it will require neither authors nor readers to pay for publication costs. This is made possible by the participating colleges committed to contributing a total of more than $1 million to the work of Lever Press over the next five years. Supported by these pledges, Lever Press aims to acquire, develop, produce and disseminate a total of 60 new open-access titles by the end of 2020.

Grinnell’s Libraries and the Dean’s office will share the cost of contributing $8,000 a year to Lever Press for five years for a total of $40,000.

Investing in Lever Press provides a great opportunity for Grinnell faculty and students, and for the wider world, said Julia Bauder, interim librarian of the College and social studies and data services librarian.

“For faculty,” Bauder said, “it provides an opportunity to publish peer-reviewed, digital books that incorporate media and data in ways that are not possible with printed books, opening up new possibilities for scholarship in the digital liberal arts. For students, my hope is that initiatives such as Lever Press will help to reduce textbook costs by making scholarly books of the sort that Grinnell faculty often assign freely available to them.

“And even after they graduate, Grinnell students and others who are interested in reading great research in the social sciences and humanities will be able to read these books, no matter where they live, what kind of job they have, or by what libraries they are served. Lever Press is truly a win for everyone involved.”

Lever Press is launching as an imprint of Michigan Publishing, a division of the University of Michigan Library. Michigan Publishing will focus on distribution, the publishing platform, and other technical matters, while Amherst College Press will take the lead on the editorial side.

In addition to its novel approach to open access, Lever Press is distinguished by its editorial alignment with the mission and ethos of liberal arts colleges, as well as its digitally native production processes designed to support innovative projects that go “beyond the book.”

“This is an exciting initiative because of the benefit to pioneering humanities and digital humanities work which comes with the space and scale that online formats provide,” said Matthew Johnson, assistant professor of history at Grinnell.

“In the past,” he added, “if you wanted to publish a book that was rich in images, for example, you needed a companion website, as my co-editors and I did with our volume Visualizing Modern China. Given that many small liberal arts colleges are ahead of the curve in terms of adoption of digital resources for teaching and research, Grinnell and other consortium faculty will benefit from being able to integrate similar approaches more seamlessly into their publication strategies, while connecting their work with a far larger audience than has been the case previously.”