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Babel No More

Journalist and author Michael Erard will present a free public talk on “Finding the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners (and Other Stories)” at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 30, 2015, in Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 102.

Erard says his second book, Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners, is the account of his “search for the person who could speak the most languages in the world and [his] attempt to understand what that means, both for science and for the rest of us,” and “it is a search for the upper limits of the ability to learn, speak, and use languages.”

His first book, Um…: Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean, is a natural history of slips of the tongue, speech disfluencies, and other things we wish we didn’t say (but do).

Erard describes his books as “serious non-fiction that could also be classified as ‘pop linguistics’ and popular science,” and “put a narrative backbone into serious, but fragmented, research into everyday language phenomena.”

Erard’s works have been published in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Science, Wired, Nautilus, Slate, The Atlantic, New Scientist, Reason, The Morning News, and many other magazines and newspapers.

Erard’s talk is sponsored by the Linguistics Concentration.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. ARH is wheelchair accessible. Automatic door operators are located on the southeast and southwest sides. Accessible parking is available along Park Street. Accommodations can be requested from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.


Scholars' Convo: David Schmidtz and Phi Beta Kappa

David Schmidtz, one of the nation’s foremost experts on political philosophy, will be the keynote speaker at the Scholars’ Convocation at noon Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in the Joe Rosenfield ‘25 Center, Room 101. Schmidtz has been named the National Phi Beta Kappa Scholar in Philosophy for 2014-15.

His address, “On the Pretense of Consent,” is part of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars program. The event is free and open to the public with a free pizza lunch provided.

Newly elected members of Grinnell’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, Beta of Iowa, will be recognized at the Convocation, as well as the winners of the annual Joseph F. Wall ’41 Phi Beta Kappa Scholar’s Award and the Neal Klausner Sophomore Book Awards.

In his address Schmidtz will explore how many political theories that represent justified political authority are grounded in the consent of the people. But if we start from there, according to Schmidtz, we end up spending our time defining consent in abstract ways in service of a lame pretense that we live under justified consent-based authority.

In contrast, Schmidtz will contend that, “If we start with actual politics, that is, from the idea that disagreement is an inevitably central feature of our lives together, then the objective becomes to make it safe to disagree, and at very least not ensure that politics is war by other means.

“The point of politics,” he will conclude, “is to create realms where the operative virtue is nonthreatening diplomacy — realms in which people are not a threat to each other. In practice, seeking consent is our most important way of keeping the peace and of treating each other with respect, but it is not the moral foundation of keeping the peace or of mutual respect. Its importance is derivative, not foundational. When we do not acknowledge the actual role of consent, we fail to take it seriously.”

Currently the Kendrick Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, Schmidtz is founding director of Arizona’s Center for the Philosophy of Freedom. He has published extensively on ethics, environmental philosophy, and rational choice. He is author of Person, Polis, Planet and editor-in-chief of the journal Social Philosophy and Policy, which has the largest circulation among philosophy journals in the English-speaking world.

Phi Beta Kappa is an academic honor society with more than a half million members in chapters at nearly 300 American colleges and universities.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. The Joe Rosenfield ‘25 Center has accessible parking in the lot on the east side of the building. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

2015 Summer Exploration Series

A free program of courses for adults will be available this summer through the Adult Community Exploration Series (ACES), an initiative of the Community Education Council and Grinnell College.

Four courses, each two session long and taught by a faculty member, will be held on Wednesday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Caulkins Room of the Drake Community Library, 930 Park St., Grinnell. Refreshments will be served at each session.

The Caulkins Room is wheel-chair accessible and is equipped with an induction hearing (telecoil) loop. For more information about the courses or to request an accommodation, please contact Grinnell College's Office of Conference Operations and Events.

The Road Trip: Are We Running from Something or Searching for Something?

June 10, 17

Will Freeman

We have all felt the romance of the road trip. What attracts us to this idea? This course will explore themes of escapism and freedom, the "hero's journey" and the difference between tourist and traveler. Will Freeman, associate professor of physical education and head cross country and track coach, will teach the course.

Genetically Engineered, Organically Grown

June 24, July 1

Ben DeRidder

The town of Grinnell, situated in an agricultural area, finds itself in the middle of a breadbasket and of a growing debate over the future of food. This course will explore some of the themes of that debate, discussing the central issues concerning the power of genetic engineering and the promises of organic agriculture. Ben DeRidder, associate professor of biology, will teach the course.

What is Community Sustainability, Should We Care About It, and Can We Achieve It?

July 8, 15

Jonathan Andelson

Sustainability is currently a buzzword in business, development and academia, but what does it really mean? This course will examine the short-term and long-term problems with a lack of sustainability, and will look at communities where sustainability goals have received significant attention. Jonathan Andelson, professor of anthropology and founder of Grinnell's Center for Prairie Studies, will teach the course.

Gender and War

July 22, 29

Carolyn Lewis

Last year marked the 100-year anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, the 75-year anniversary of the start of World War II and the 25-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. This course will explore this "century of war" with attention to the role of gender in World War II. How have notions of gender shaped our experience of war? Carolyn Lewis, assistant professor of history, will teach the course.

Mozart's Requiem

John RommereimGrinnell community members and college students will join forces to sing Mozart's "Requiem" in a free public performance by the Grinnell Oratorio Society, Grinnell Singers, and Grinnell Symphony Orchestra at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 26, in Herrick Chapel.

The program will begin with two concertos featuring student soloists: Grace Bell ’17 and Kirsten Gillis ’18 will play Domenico Cimarosa's Concerto for Two Flutes. Katie Krainc ’17 will play Camille Saint-Saëns's Violin Concerto No. 3. The feature performance of Mozart's Requiem Mass in D minor comprises the second half of the concert.

The Requiem, written by Mozart in 1791 and left unfinished upon his death, is comprised of 14 movements for choir, orchestra and soloists. The Grinnell Oratorio Society, open to all members of the Grinnell community, has been working on the piece since January and will join forces with the Grinnell Singers in its performance.

John Rommereim, Blanche Johnson Professor of Music at Grinnell, will conduct the Requiem. Singing the solos will be Rachel Joselson, soprano; Katherine Eberle, mezzo-soprano; Dennis Willhoit, tenor; and Nicholas Miguel, baritone.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Bucksbaum Center for the Arts has accessible parking in the small lot south of the building off Sixth Ave. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

The Making of an Embodied Life

Jonathan Miller-LaneJonathan Miller-Lane will present a free public talk, "A Liberal Arts Education and the Making of an Embodied Life," at 8 p.m. Monday, April 27, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101.

The philosopher John Dewey argued that, “Freedom is not the absence of an external limit of control, but rather the presence of an internal locus of control.”

Jonathan Miller-Lane asks “In a society that places such a high value on ‘productivity’and that seems increasingly obsessed with measuring academic achievement using ‘objective’ measures, what possible role might a liberal arts education still play? How might an embodied approach, that is, an approach that takes seriously the possibility that our bodies are sites of knowing, inform our understanding of the meaning and purpose of a liberal arts education?”

In his talk, Miller-Lane will explore these questions, offer some initial responses, and invite discussion.

The departments of athletics and recreation and theatre and dance collaborated on this event, which is supported by a Midwest Conference athletics integration grant.

About Jonathan Miller-Lane

Jonathan Miller-Lane is associate professor and director of the Education Studies Program at Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont. He is also the faculty head of a residential commons, working with colleagues and the student residential life staff to help foster deeper connections between academic and residential life.

His teaching and writing center on a single question: How do we draw from the best traditions of a liberal arts education while responding creatively and compassionately to the realities and challenges of contemporary society in the USA? 

For example, is ‘disinterested learning’ still ethical in a post-Ferguson world? Which cherished ideals should we keep and which should we allow to rest in peace? How should we choose?

Miller-Lane holds the rank of Sandan in the Japanese martial art of Aikido and founded Blue Heron Aikido of Middlebury in 2004. The philosophy of Aikido informs many aspects of his work.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from the event sponsors or Conference Operations.


Redefining Possible

Spencer West, an inspirational speaker, author, and humanitarian from Toronto, Canada, will give a free, public talk at noon Monday, May 4, in Sebring-Lewis Hall in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Born with a rare genetic disorder, West had his legs amputated when he was 5 years old. Overcoming challenge after challenge, West learned to not only navigate a world that is set against those with disabilities but to become an agent of change in that world.

His many accomplishments, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro on his hands and in his wheelchair and raising more than $500,000 dollars for Free the Children clean water projects in Kenya, have made him a role model for individuals striving to negotiate obstacles in their lives. West's words have encouraged millions to stand up to difficult times, face challenges and embrace change.

West has received extensive national media coverage. He has been featured on ABC News, CNN and CBS' "60 Minutes," to name a few. He also is highly active in charity work, having raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for prominent charities including Free The Children.

West's appearance is made possible by Peace and Conflict Studies.

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

Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci Live in HD

Grinnell College will stream The Metropolitan Opera’s productions of Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavalleria Rusticana” and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci” live in high-definition on Saturday, April 25, in Harris Center Cinema. The pre-opera talk will begin at 11 a.m. with the broadcast beginning at 11:30 a.m.

This tragic double bill stars Marcelo Álvarez, who tackles the tenor roles in both operas. Directed by Sir David McVicar, the productions will be set in two different time periods within the same Sicilian village. Met Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi will conduct both productions.

Randye Jones, soprano and Burling Library media room supervisor will explore the operas’ historical background and salient aspects of the music and drama in an introductory talk before the broadcast.

Refreshments will be available for sale in the lobby of the cinema before the 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.

Tickets for Grinnell College faculty, staff, and students have been generously funded by the Office of the President and are available at no cost at all ticket locations. Family members not employed by the College are required to purchase tickets.

Soviet Propaganda Abroad

Ivo JuurveeIvo Juurvee, an associate professor of history at the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences,, will deliver "The Soviet Heritage of Influencing Public Opinion Abroad" at 4:15 p.m. Monday, April 27, Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302.

The free public lecture will be on efforts by the KGB and the Soviet regime to clandestinely shape public opinion in the United States, Western Europe, and other parts of the non-Communist world.

Juurvee is an expert in the history of espionage and state security in the Baltic states, the Soviet Union, and beyond, and his talk will consider both the KGB's history of spreading disinformation abroad and the extent to which contemporary Russia engages in similar practices today.

The event is organized by Grinnell's Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations and Human Rights and sponsored by the Chrystal Fund.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. ARH is wheelchair accessible and has an elevator at the south end of the building that makes it easy to reach the auditorium and accessible restrooms on the third floor. Outside entrances with automatic door operators are located on the southeast and southwest sides of ARH. Several accessible parking spaces are available along Park Street. Request accommodations from Conference Operations.

An Introduction to Permaculture

Lonnie GambleLonnie Gamble, assistant professor of sustainable living, Maharishi University of Management, will teach the principles of ecological design and the application of permaculture principles in two related sessions.

Gamble says, "the sustainability revolution, like the agricultural, scientific, industrial, and communications revolutions that preceded it, will change the relationship of people to nature and to each other."

This workshop will give you basic tools that you can use to start to make the sustainability shift in your life today. Permaculture is the design of human habitats that have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems — permaculture is functional design inspired by nature. 

Gamble will present “The Sustainability Revolution, Design, and Gardening: An Introduction to Permaculture,” beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 25 in Alumni Recitation Hall Room 324.

Introductory session, 9 a.m. – noon.
The principles of ecological design and their application in the provision of energy, water, food, shelter, and city planning.
Advanced session 1–4 p.m.
Hands-on application of permaculture principles to growing food at home.

Registration is required. Contact Jan Graham by Wednesday, April 22 to register. Lunch will be provided to those that attend both sessions.

Sponsored by the Center for Prairie Studies.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations.

Explore Education Marketing

A first-person account by externship participant Trang Nguyen ’17.

At 12, I wanted to become a mathematician. At 16, I studied English to become a diplomat. Now, at 19, I strive to do marketing.

It’s good to know what you like, isn’t it? But here is the fact: you don’t marry all of your crushes. You marry someone you like, who likes you back, and whose lifestyle matches yours. Likewise, not all interests can become your future career. Whether in relationships or a career, we all need a dating phase. And dating is fun!

One way Grinnell offers “career dating” is through its spring break job shadows, which it calls externships. Externships last 3–5 days and are offered by Grinnell alumni throughout the United States. Many include a home stay with the alum too.

So I scanned through the list of spring 2015 externship possibilities with the keyword “marketing.” I was quite surprised to come across an externship in Grinnell College’s Office of Communications because to me, communication is information driven rather than marketing related. I then looked it up on the Internet and discovered that marketing in education is really a thing. So why not give it a try?

This spring break I did a three-day externship with Michele Regenold ’89, editorial director at Grinnell.

Marketing in Higher Education

On the first day, Michele walked me through the concept of marketing in higher education. She explained how the Office of Communications represents Grinnell to alumni and prospective students on the website and in print materials. Within the office, different teams — editorial, web, media, and creative — collaborate with one another and with other offices, like Admission, to achieve marketing goals. “The editorial team writes stories for the web that match up with the admission cycle,” Michele says. “For example, this summer when prospective students visit campus, we’ll have some stories related to our location and facilities.”

Before the externship, I didn’t know that higher education involves such considerable and even sophisticated marketing strategies. “The way you promote a regional or local school is different from the way you promote a national or globally known one,” says Jim Powers, director of communications. To give prospective students the most accurate sense of the culture at Grinnell, the school has been working with a marketing firm that can understand Grinnellians well and produce materials that “feel like” Grinnell.

Exploring Possible Paths and Cool Things to Learn

Trang Nguyen ’17 I had the opportunity to talk to different teams in the office. Sarah Anderson ’98, Larissa Stalcup, and Adrienne Squier all studied marketing but they now have different specializations: Sarah coordinates the website, Larissa is a graphic designer, and Adrienne manages all social media platforms. Talking with them broadened my perspectives on possible options in a marketing career and gave me some guidelines about how I can prepare myself for each approach. Larissa introduced me to some design software and how to study it by myself. Adrienne shared some cool media tips and how to measure the effectiveness of media strategies quantitatively.

Sarah says, “Even though I’m in charge of studying web behaviors and brainstorming ideas, I still need to have some technical knowledge to know what is possible and what is not.” Taking her advice, I plan to take more computer science classes even though I’m more interested in the strategy part.

It was also very interesting to listen to stories behind the recent redesign of our website. Every single update on the content and design of our website involves lots of studies on brain development and web behaviors. Their explanation shows examples of practical applications of what I studied in my Introduction to Psychology course.

More than just an informational interview: Trying what I have never tried

An externship is also an opportunity for me to get some hands-on experiences. I shadowed Michele in two phone interviews. Interviewing someone for a story is really an art. It is not just a matter of asking the right questions; the interviewer must also keep control of the flow of the interview and keep the interviewee comfortable. “I do background research before interviews so I can ask thoughtful questions,” Michele says.

I also tried doing an interview by myself. I interviewed Kelly Guilbeau, career counselor in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service, to get more information about the spring 2015 externship program. I asked her if externship hosts have as good of an experience as us students. Kelly says that most alumni externship hosts give positive feedback about it.

During the interview, Michele helped point out key ideas in Kelly’s answers and analyze important elements of an interview that I should take notice of. She said I did a good job so I guess I do have the potential.  

Although this three-day “date” cannot give me a clear answer to my career confusion, it shows me some hints to figure out the answer by myself.

Trang Nguyen ’17 is a mathematics major from Hanoi, Vietnam. The externship program is coordinated jointly by the CLS and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.