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Nature: A Walking Play

Grinnell College will host three outdoor performances of “Nature — A Walking Play” about Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau from Sept. 11-13 at the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA).

TigerLion Arts will present the mythic telling of Emerson and Thoreau’s mutual love affair with the natural world. Grounded in the story of their friendship, the production offers a perspective on their lives that is strikingly relevant, richly complex, and yet utterly simple. 

Past Honorary Class Members

Movies Under the Stars

Grab some free popcorn and enjoy old and new classics at the College’s Movies under the Stars nights. The last movie in this summer's series is last year's The Hundred Foot Journey.

As always, the series is free and open to the public. Bring your own chairs and other refreshments.

The movie begins Aug. 7, at 9 p.m. on the College’s Commencement stage or, in case of rain, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Summer in Grinnell is alive with a variety of events and activities when the weather offers a chance to explore the town’s parks, have a picnic, or just relax outside.

Lexy Greenwell's Virtual Commencement

Alexis "Lexy" Greenwell ’15 used her iPhone to virtually walk across the stage at Grinnell College's commencement ceremony even though she was 725 miles away at Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado.

Janet Davis, associate professor of computer science and Greenwell's faculty adviser, represented Greenwell at Grinnell College's ceremony honoring 405 graduates on Monday, May 18, in Grinnell, Iowa.

As she joined the parade of graduates crossing the stage, Davis held up her iPhone, which was connected to Greenwell's iPhone via Skype. Greenwell saw the view from the stage and shared in the graduation experience as Grinnell College President Raynard S. Kington conveyed his congratulations and then the two exchanged virtual waves.

Greenwell also was able to view the entire ceremony via a live stream on a projection screen. Following Greenwell's virtual walk across the stage, Grinnell College Trustee Steve Holtze and his wife, Elizabeth, both 1968 graduates of Grinnell and residents of the Denver area, presented Greenwell with her diploma.

"It was really, really cool . . . just an exciting moment," says Greenwell, who wore a cap and gown for her commencement celebration at Craig Hospital. Family and friends joined her at the hospital where she received intensive neurological rehabilitation that helped her recover from several brain hemorrhages and two brain surgeries that threatened her life and interrupted her studies at Grinnell College.

Greenwell was able to finish her senior year via interactive classes, earning a bachelor's degree in computer science with a technology studies concentration.

"With her sparkling personality and can-do attitude, Lexy has always been a pleasure to teach and advise," professor Davis says. "She has shown remarkable determination in the face of adversity. Lexy has worked closely with faculty, staff and classmates to participate fully in all of her classes — including a team software development project — despite being far away from Grinnell."

The 22-year-old singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and beatboxer, who has performed for Reba McEntire and shared a stage with David Foster and other celebrities, says music played a key role in her recovery.

"Music definitely helped save me. It was a huge part of my healing process," Greenwell says. She aims to combine her love of music and technology to become a music executive. She also plans to write a book about her experiences in hopes of inspiring others.

"It takes some time when you go through something like this to get yourself to a place where you feel like you can move forward," she says, adding with a smile, "My future is wide open, and I'm so grateful for the amazing life I have."

Congratulations, Class of 2015!

The 169th Commencement of Grinnell College is complete.

Find highlights from the weekend in a visual review of Commencement 2015.

Relive the full ceremony on YouTube, or pick the speech of your choice:

As always, you can:

  • Follow and join the conversation on Twitter: #CongratsGC2015
  • Share your photos on Instagram: #GrinnellCollege
  • Follow us on Facebook and YouTube for highlights from the day.

Celebrate the accomplishments of our seniors as they begin their post-Grinnell journeys.

Honorary Degree Recipients

Bill McKibben in doctorate robe

Bill McKibben

Commencement speaker, renowned environmentalist and writer

Doctor of Humane Letters

Penny Bender Sebring ’64

Penny Bender Sebring ’64

senior research associate, University of Chicago and co-director, Consortium of Chicago School Research

Doctor of Laws

Charles Ashby Lewis in cap and gown

Charles Ashby Lewis

chairman, Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation and managing general partner, Coach House Capital

Doctor of Laws

Mary Seely in mortarboard and robe

Mary Seely

renowned scientist in environmental science, education, and policy in southern Africa

Doctor of Science

Kit Abel Hawkins in mortarboard and robe

Kit Abel Hawkins

founder and director of the Arbor School of Arts and Sciences

Doctor of Social Studies

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.

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.