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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

Madam Butterfly, Live in HD

Grinnell College will stream the Metropolitan Opera's production of Puccini’s Madam Butterfly at noon on Saturday, April 2, at the Harris Center Cinema.

Madam Butterfly is set in the Japanese port city of Nagasaki, one of the country’s only ports open to foreign ships. Soprano Kristine Opolais stars in the title role and has her heart broken by naval officer Pinkerton, portrayed by tenor Roberto Alagna.

Mariko Schimmel, associate professor of Japanese, will present the opera talk at 11:30 a.m. at Harris Center.

This will be the fourth opera of the spring season in which the Met is celebrating its 10th anniversary of “Live-in-HD” movie theater transmissions.

The two upcoming spring semester operas are:

  • Gaetano Donizetti’s “Roberto Devereux” at noon Saturday, April 16. Set in Westminster Palace in London between 1599 and 1601, the opera follows Queen Elizabeth I as she is compelled to sign the death warrant of the nobleman she loves, Robert Devereux. Soprano Sandra Radvanovsky plays Queen Elizabeth I, and tenor Matthew Polenzani portrays Devereux. There will be no opera talk before this broadcast.  
  • Richard Strauss’s “Elektra” on Saturday, April 30. Originally set in Greece after the Trojan War, this production is modernized to an unspecified contemporary setting. Soprano Nina Stemme, a maven of Strauss and Wagner’s heroines, stars as Elektra as she works to avenge her the murder of her father, Agamemnon. Angelo Mercado, assistant professor of classics, will present the opera talk.

Refreshments will be available for sale in the lobby of the cinema before each opera and during intermission.

Opera tickets are available at the Pioneer Bookshop, the Grinnell College Bookstore and at the door on the day of the show. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, children, and Met Opera members.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Visitor and accessible parking is available in the lot to the east of the Harris Center. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Make/Shift Space to be in Masonic Temple

Grinnell College has leased the vacant main floor of the Masonic Temple at 928 Main St. in downtown Grinnell, for March, April, and May. During this time, art faculty members will teach several classes. Students will develop a variety of works and installations, then showcase them during pop-up shows.

The first pop-up show at Make/Shift Space will feature works by students in an advanced seminar on Site Specificity and in Intro to Sculpture. Set for Thursday, March 17, the event, which is free and open to the public, will run from 5 to 7 p.m.

The lease with the Masonic Lodge, which occupies the upper floor of the 99-year-old brick building, provides about 5,000 square feet. The new space will give students the opportunity to spread out and create installations and other large works that will not fit in the Art and Art History Department's current facilities in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

"The Make/Shift Space offers students a valuable opportunity to have their work away from a formal academic setting and out in front of the public," said Matthew Kluber, associate professor of art and chair of the department. "It changes they way they see the relationship of their work and ideas to the wider world — they begin to see themselves as artists."

Additional pop-up exhibitions featuring works from an introductory course, a collage course, and other studio classes as well as free workshops for community members of a variety of ages will be scheduled throughout the rest of the spring semester. Possible workshops and demonstrations include 3D printing, "Re-Mix: Collage as Cultural Practice," screenings of videos made by art students, talks by student artists, and drop-in-and-draw sessions.  

"It's exciting to gain such a large space downtown, where we will have high visibility on Main Street," said Jeremy Chen, assistant professor of art. "We are happy to be activating a quiet space that has been vacant for more than two years, and we want to involve local residents in this new venture.

"For example," Chen added, "we want passersby to stop and look into the large, storefront windows to watch students creating works of art. Having a public audience will inspire our students and elevate their projects."

All studio faculty and staff of the Art and Art History Department have been invited to make use of the Masonic Temple. In addition to Chen and Kluber, faculty and staff members initially working there will be Andrew Kaufman, associate professor of art; Lee Running, associate professor of art;  and Andrew Orloski, studio art technician.

About four years ago Chen's sculpture class conducted pop-up shows at two downtown locations, 925 Broad St. and the basement of 800 Fourth Ave. The space was donated by Bill Rozendaal of Rozendaal Rentals and Bruce Blankenfeld of Westside Diner, and arranged through local real estate agent Matt Karjalahti. "It was a wonderful experience for the students," Chen recalled. "We had more than 100 people attend the show. We are eager to expand on that success in our new and larger venue in the Masonic Temple."

John Kalkbrenner, assistant vice president for auxiliary services and economic development at Grinnell College, negotiated the lease for the Masonic Temple space. Although no plan beyond the three-month rental has been made for a more permanent College space downtown, he said, "We are treating this as an experiment. The studio art faculty will be tracking usage and other factors that will help us determine whether this pilot program is successful."

Grinnell College welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Make/Shift activities open to the public all happen on the first floor of the Masonic Temple Building. Visitors are encouraged to use downtown street parking. Accommodation requests may be made to Grinnell College Conference Operations and Events.

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.