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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.

Scholars' Convocation: Hilary Mason ’00

Hilary Mason '00The Scholars' Convocation at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, will feature Hilary Mason ’00. Mason is founder and CEO of Fast Forward Labs, a data science and machine learning firm, and the data scientist in residence at Accel Partners .

Mason's lecture, which is free and open to the public, is titled "Data, Machines, and People: Data Science, Products, and Society," and will take place in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Mason received her bachelor's degree in computer science from Grinnell and went on to study computer science at the graduate level at Brown University. When asked to describe herself, she says, "I make beautiful things with data."

Fast Forward Labs is a new kind of research company that helps recognize and develop new product and business opportunities through emerging technologies helps organizations accelerate their data science and machine intelligence capabilities. Every quarter the company profiles a different near future technology, producing a report on its development and a prototype demonstrating its application.

At Accel Partners, Mason advises Accel's portfolio companies and assists with evaluating new technologies and investment opportunities.

Mason, who previously served as chief scientist at bitly, also co-hosts DataGotham, a conference for New York's data community. In addition, she co-founded HackNY, a nonprofit that helps engineering students find opportunities in New York's creative technical economy. She is a member of Brooklyn hacker collective NYC Resistor and the Anita Borg Institute Board of Directors. She also advises numerous companies, including Sparkfun Electronics and Collective.

Grinnell College welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Fever, Contagion, and Caution in the Avant-Garde

Dudley AndrewDudley Andrew, Selden Rose Professor of Film and Comparative Literature at Yale University, will give a lecture on French cinema of the 1930s and ’40s on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is titled "From Ciné-Liberté  (1936) to Film Maudit  (1949): Fever, Contagion, and Caution in the Avant-Garde."

It will start at 7:30 p.m. in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101.

Andrew will describe how French films of the 1930s and 1940s led into the New Wave, a film movement that engages in social and political upheaval, in the 1950s. He also will explore the collaboration between filmmakers, their sense of people, the popular, and everyday life as a "Site of Creativity."

Andrew will use three films — A Day in the Country, Zéro de Conduite,  and The Lower Depths, which will be screened on campus earlier in the week — to frame his argument. He will show how the filmmakers were engaged in the social and political debates of their time. All three films are part of the Poetic Realist movement in 1930s France and depict the different tensions and struggles within French society of the time.

The Center for the Humanities, which is sponsoring the lecture and the screenings of several French films, has chosen "Site of Creativity" as its theme for the year.

The Film Screenings

The film screenings will take place in the days before the lecture, on Feb. 16 and 17. French pastries will be served at the screenings, which are free and open to the public.

7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, Harris Center Cinema

  • A Day in the Country  followed by Zéro de Conduite

7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, Harris Center Cinema

  • The Lower Depths 

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center and Harris Center have accessible parking in lots to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Coming of Age in Chore Boots

Janet SchlapkohlJanet Schlapkohl, author and performer of “Coming of Age in Chore Boots,” will read from her play and discuss the experiences of women during the 1980s farm crisis when she visits Grinnell College on Thursday, Feb. 18.

“Chore Boots – Women Experienced the Farm Crisis of 1980” will start at 7:30 p.m. in the main lounge of Mears Cottage, 1213 Sixth Ave., Grinnell. The event, sponsored by the Grinnell College Center for Prairie Studies, is free and open to the public.

“Most conventional Midwest farmers might be men, but the farm crisis of the 1980s did not affect them alone, it had ramifications in their families and beyond,” said Jon Andelson ’70, professor of anthropology and director of the Center for Prairie Studies at Grinnell College.

“Janet experienced the farm crisis as a young woman,” Andelson added. ”She was there. She’s told her story in her one-woman biographical play ‘Chore Boots,’ which she will read from and discuss. She also will talk about the role of women in that crisis, and of how people find their way out of crises.” A question-and-answer session will follow.

Schlapkohl holds master's degrees in playwriting and education from the University of Iowa and a bachelor's degree in biology from Iowa State University. She is the founder of Combined Efforts Theatre, director of Country Camp, LLC, and the recipient of the Isabelle Turner Human Rights Award, the Richard Maibaum Award, and the Finkbine Award for Human Rights. She also was selected as a 2014 Visionary Playwright by Theater Masters.

Her plays have been produced in New York City, Los Angeles, Colorado, and across Iowa. She has performed her monologues and one-woman shows at Riverside Theatre in Iowa City, the Looby Theatre in Nashville, Stage Left Studio in New York City, and in Grinnell at The Loft Theatre in the Grinnell Arts Center. She lives on an acreage in Iowa with her husband, a veterinarian who works with large animals.

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

Short Course: Refugees in Complex Emergencies

Explore the art and science of saving lives in complex emergencies — providing water, nutrition, security, and health care — in a short course taught by Neil Otto ’72, director of The Otto Family Foundation.

The course will also consider real world examples of operational challenges in emergency relief situations to examine what constitutes leadership where cultural dissonance, resource limitations, and moral ambiguities complicate every decision.

The short course meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2–3:50 p.m.

About Neil Otto ’72

Neil Otto ’72Otto is an investor and, together with his wife Margaret, a founder and managing director of The Otto Family Foundation.

As vice president of Ballard Power Systems, he was the marketing executive responsible for the Fuel Cell Alliance between Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company, and Ballard. The alliance focused $750 million dollars and ultimately over 1,000 scientists, engineers, and supporting personnel on developing zero emission fuel cell engines for automobiles.

He later established and became president of Ballard Automotive, a joint venture, technology marketing company owned by Ford, Daimler, and Ballard. The company was dedicated to advancing zero emission automotive technology worldwide. Through this joint venture, nearly every major automotive and energy company around the world contractually participated with the alliance or joined one of nearly a dozen public/private partnerships established in multiple countries on four continents.

As vice president at Science Applications International Corporation, Otto managed the Alternative Energy Division. The division housed more than 75 consulting engineers and staff that worked in solar, wind, electrochemical, and other advanced energy, power, and propulsion technologies. He hired and led the team that designed and built the world’s first PEM fuel cell vehicle, as well as the world’s first commercial fuel cell vehicle.

After the Challenger tragedy, NASA selected Otto to lead a multi-million dollar sub-project of the massive Solid Propulsion Improvement Program, a national effort to improve the safety and reliability of the Space Shuttle's solid rocket motors.

He has served as a technical area expert in cutting edge electrochemical power systems, consulting with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, NASA, the Air Force Wright Laboratories, the Strategic Defense Initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy, and other government and commercial groups.

Otto has three issued U.S. patents, one approved patent under secrecy order, and several scientific publications. He currently serves on the board and executive council of Project Concern International and has been a board member of four companies, president of the World Fuel Cell Council, and was a member of advisory boards for the Institute of Transportation, University of California at Davis, and the Technology Advancement Office of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Otto's visit is sponsored by the Wilson Program in Enterprise and Leadership.

Volunteer Opportunity at CERA

Savanna Restoration and Greenhouse Work Day​

Join Grinnellians and other volunteers on Saturday, February 20, 2016, for a volunteer work day at  Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA). 

The group will be working on two projects:

  • savanna restoration mop-up (making piles and salvaging firewood), and
  • transplanting prairie and savanna seedlings in the greenhouse.

Work gloves and light refreshments will be provided; please bring your own water bottle.

Wear clothes and boots appropriate for work outside in the snow unless you’d like to stay in the greenhouse. 


If you plan to drive out to CERA, please park by the Environmental Education Center and meet the group at the Maintenance Shed at 10 a.m.

Need a ride? Please contact Nick Koster to reserve one. Riders will meet at the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center drop-off area at 9:30 a.m. 

International Faculty Development Opportunities

World Data Map

The Institute for the International Education of Students (IES Abroad) presents two international faculty development opportunities to teach or research abroad during the summer or fall of 2016.

Teach Abroad

IES Abroad invites academic deans and department chairs to nominate faculty members to teach at IES Abroad Centers during the summer or fall semester of 2016.

Faculty members with interests that align with those of IES Abroad can apply for one of these faculty development opportunities to teach in:

  • Barcelona,
  • Dublin,
  • Madrid,
  • Berlin,
  • the European Union Program,
  • Milan,
  • Rome,
  • Buenos Aires,
  • London,
  • Paris,
  • Vienna, or
  • Tokyo.

For faculty selected to teach through an IES Abroad program at any of these locations, IES will pay a stipend to teach one course, cover transportation, and the cost of housing, up to $2000 (summer) or $4000 (fall).

Research Abroad

Faculty members may also apply for a research associateship at any of the IES Abroad Centers for this summer or fall of 2016.

IES Abroad will cover the cost of transportation to the site and provides $1000 for housing. IES staff will also assist the associates with research and introduce them to faculty on site in areas of interest. IES typically arranges for associates to present a public presentation through a local university partner.

Deadlines and More Information

Deadline to apply for either opportunity is March 1, 2016.

Go to IES Abroad for more information on these international faculty development opportunities.

Campaign Finance Symposium

Grinnell College will hold a Campaign Finance Symposium on Feb. 9-11 to investigate the role of money in politics and propose potential solutions from different perspectives, including campaign finance scholars, journalists, professors, lawyers, and activists.

The symposium, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by Grinnell College’s Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.

“In the aftermath of the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United case, the U.S. campaign finance system has changed rapidly with the rise of Super PACs and other new funding instruments,” said Sarah Purcell ’92, director of the Rosenfield Program. “Our symposium speakers will address the current finance system from many different points of view to help our community understand the current state of campaign finance to and debate the merits of several proposed reforms to the system.”

Key speakers will be Michael Malbin, professor, scholar and co-founder and executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute in Washington, D.C., and Michael Beckel, investigative reporter covering the influence of money on elections for the Center for Public Integrity.

Big Dollars, Small Dollars – What's Going On

Michael MalbinMalbin, a professor of political science at the State University of New York at Albany, will deliver the keynote address at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9, Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. He has co-authored several books, including his most recent works, Independent Spending in Congressional Primaries and Citizen Funding for Elections: What do we know? What are the effects? What are the options?

His talk, titled "Big Dollars, Small Dollars – What's Going On," will focus on the differences between Ronald Reagan’s campaign in the 1980s, when he raised nearly half of his presidential campaign money from hundreds of thousands of donors in amounts of $200 or less, and the 2016 cycle, when half of the money raised in the first six months of the campaign came from 158 families.

Super PACs, ‘Dark Money’ and the 2016 White House Race

Michael BeckelBeckel will deliver his lecture “Super PACs, ‘Dark Money’ and the 2016 White House Race” at 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, Rosenfield Center, Room 101. In addition to the symposium, this lecture is part of the Scholars’ Convocation series.

 As a reporter for the Center for Public Integrity, Beckel has covered Super PACs, politically active nonprofits, and the influence of money on elections for the past four years. His reports have taken him inside oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court for the landmark decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. His work has been published in numerous media outlets, including the Des Moines Register, Huffington Post, Politico Magazine, Slate, and Time.

Other Symposium Events

Other symposium events include:

  • Barry Anderson“Judicial Elections and Campaign Finance: The Unhappy Marriage” lecture by Barry Anderson, associate justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court, at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 10, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101.
  • Nicole Austin“Money in Politics: The Next Civil Rights Agenda” lecture by Nicole Austin-Hillery, director and counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice, at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, in Rosenfield Center, Room 101.
  • Buffet dinner with symposium speakers, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, Rosenfield Center, Room 101.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot to the east. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. You can request accommodations from the event sponsor or Conference Operations and Events.

Adulterous Woman to Be Eaten by Dogs

Professor Stephanie W. Jamison will present "Adulterous Woman to Be Eaten by Dogs: Women and Law in Ancient India" at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, in ARH Room 102.

Jamison will introduce the textual sources for women and law in ancient India and suggest some ways in which they can be used to produce a fuller picture of women’s roles in this period.

In particular, she says "we will examine the apparent paradox: that acknowledging more agency on the part of women is accompanied by a more and more misogynistic attitude towards them. The legal provisions about adultery, with their sometimes-colorful punishments, provide a useful focus for this investigation."

Jamison was trained as a historical and Indo-European linguist, but for many years has concentrated on Indo-Iranian, especially (Vedic) Sanskrit and Middle Indo-Aryan languages and textual materials. She works not only on language and linguistics, but also literature and poetics, religion and law, mythology and ritual, and gender studies in these languages, and she is interested in comparative mythology and poetics, especially with Greek materials.

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