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The Law of the Land

Akhil Reed AmarLearn more about the U.S. Constitution from one of the leading constitutional scholars in the United States.

Akhil Reed Amar, the Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, will give a lecture titled "The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic (with Special Emphasis on Iowa)" for Constitution Day at Grinnell College. 

His talk begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Amar's lecture is based on his recently published book, "The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of our Constitutional Republic." He will examine the role geography, federalism and regionalism have played in constitutional law, focusing on a landmark case that originated in Iowa, Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District.

In 1965 Mary Beth Tinker and other Des Moines students decided to wear black armbands to school to protest U.S. involvement in the war in Vietnam. School officials learned of the protest plans and quickly adopted a no-armband rule. Nevertheless the students wore the armbands to school and were suspended for violating school policy.

Represented by the ACLU, the students sued, claiming violation of their First Amendment rights. A lengthy court battle ensued, culminating in the 1969 Supreme Court ruling in the Tinker case that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

His visit is sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights.

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.

Akhil Reed Amar

Professor Amar teaches constitutional law at both Yale College and Yale Law School, where he received Yale's highest teaching honor, the DeVane Medal, in 2008. His work has been favorably cited by Supreme Court justices from both ends of the spectrum in more than 30 cases and he is regularly invited to testify before Congress at the request of both Republicans and Democrats.

The author of six books, Amar has also contributed to several popular publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic and Slate. His work has won awards from both the American Bar Association and the Federalist Society.

When the Wolves Came In

Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion will perform “When the Wolves Came In,” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, in Roberts Theatre in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

This stand-alone repertory-based program explores the historical legacy of two triumphs in the international history of civil rights: the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 20th anniversary of the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa.

Abraham was inspired by Max Roach’s iconic 1960 protest album “We Insist: Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite,” which celebrated the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation and shed a powerful light on the growing civil rights movements in South Africa and the United States.

The potent themes inherent in these historical milestones are evident in Abraham’s choreography, evocative scenery by visual artist Glenn Ligon, the visceral power of Roach’s masterwork and original compositions of Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Robert Glasper.

In addition to the performance, Abraham will give a free, public talk titled "Dance Repertory as Creative Collaboration" at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11, in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. The Center for the Humanities and the Public Events Committee are sponsoring the talk and the performance.

About Kyle Abraham

A 2013 MacArthur Fellow, Abraham began his dance training at the Civic Light Opera Academy. He later studied dance at State University of New York at Purchase, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and at New York University, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts in the Tisch School of the Arts.

Abraham’s choreography has been presented throughout the United States and abroad in countries including Canada, Ecuador, Germany, Ireland, Japan, and Jordan. In November 2012, Abraham was named New York Live Arts Resident Commissioned Artist for 2012-14. One month later, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater premiered his work, “Another Night at New York’s City Center,” to rave reviews.


“When the Wolves Came In” is free and open to the public, although tickets are required.

Ticket distribution will begin at noon Tuesday, Sept. 8, in the box office of the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts. A limited number of tickets are also available at the Pioneer Bookshop located at 823 Fourth Ave.

Any tickets not distributed by the box office will be available the night of the show beginning one half hour before show time. For more information, call 641-269-3236.

No tickets are needed for Friday's talk.

A Closer Look at the Iowa Prairie

"A Closer Look at the Iowa Prairie: Photographs by Justin Hayworth" is on view at Grinnell College through Sunday, Oct. 11, in Burling Gallery on the lower level of Burling Library.

Prairie dominated the Iowa landscape when the first white settlers arrived in 1833. Now, less than 0.1 percent of the original Iowa prairie remains.

Hayworth's macro photographs invite viewers to take a closer look at the beauty of prairie plants, celebrate the intricate aesthetics of prairie life, and teach about the unintended consequences of development. Macro photography is the art of producing photographs of small objects larger than life size.

Hayworth holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Kansas State University and worked as a photojournalist at the Duluth News Tribune and the Des Moines Register before joining Grinnell College as photographer/videographer in 2012.

Gallery Talk

Hayworth and Jon Andelson, director of the College's Center for Prairie Studies, will give a gallery talk at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2. They will discuss the loss of the Iowa prairie, the importance of close observation and the aesthetics of prairie life, celebrated through macro photography. A reception will follow.

Nature Photography Session

On Friday, Sept. 4, Hayworth will lead an exploration of the Grinnell campus for those who want to bring cameras and learn how to photograph nature up close.

The session will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. and start in Burling Gallery. The rain date will be Friday, Sept. 11.

Individuals with all levels of photography experience are welcome. Each person should bring a camera of any sort, including digital single-lens reflex, point and shoot or cell phone. Grinnell College students, faculty and staff may check out cameras from the Audio-Visual Center.

The gallery talk, photography session and exhibition, which are free and open to the public, are sponsored by Grinnell College's Center for Prairie Studies and the Faulconer Gallery.

Hours and Accessibility

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations, 641-269-3235.

Burling Gallery is open 10 a.m. through 10 p.m. daily. For more information about  the exhibition and related programs visit Faulconer Gallery.



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. 

A professional ensemble of actors will take the audience on a journey through the natural environment as scenes unfold around them. Bagpipes, ancient flutes, drums and rich choral arrangements will be intricately woven into the experience. 

“Nature” is an extraordinary, family-friendly journey that co-mingles story, spirit, and nature, as a means to reconnect its audience with the natural world. This original work was collaboratively created with writer and actor Tyson Forbes, a direct descendant of Emerson. 

Two Grinnell College alumni have key roles in the production. John Catron ’02 plays Thoreau, and Sara Shives’97 serves as production manager.

For more information, including ticket and transportation information, see Nature — A Walking Play.

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. 

10 Tips for Making Friends at Grinnell

Get to know your roommate(s)/floormates

Offer to go to dinner or lunch together at the D-hall. Get out of the dorms and study in a cool spot like the Noyce elbow.

Getting to know the people around you can be a great way to expand your circle of friends. You can meet other people through your floormates as they invite friends over to study or hang out.

Ask your student adviser

Your floor’s student adviser can be a great resource. Grinnell doesn’t have Resident Advisers — grad students or other “authority” figures — on every floor like other schools.

Student Advisers are students like you who have recently been through the challenge of making friends in a new environment and are happy to introduce you to people. Helping you to make friends and feel comfortable in your new home is part of why they’re there, so use them!

Hang out in common areas

Instead of watching TV or Netflix by yourself, try going down to the lounge (each residence hall has at least one) or to Bob’s Underground Cafe for some R&R.

It’s a good way to let everyone know you’re open to meeting people and being social.

Keep your door open

Leaving your door open when you're hanging out in your room can be a great way to show people that you're interested in talking and making new friends.

At Grinnell, first-years are housed on floors along with students from other years, so you’ll have the chance to meet some older friends too. Just don’t forget to lock your door when you leave for class!

Students gear up for Nerf at NoyceJoin student clubs and activities

Grinnell holds a Student Activities Fair during New Student Orientation, where you can try everything from belly dancing to playing Nerf in the Noyce science building.

Sign up for things you’re interested in to meet like-minded people and try some new activities to broaden your horizons.

If there isn’t an organization for an activity or a cause you’re passionate about, start your own! Even first-year students can start organizations.

Organize study groups

Your classes are a great way to get to know people. With Grinnell’s open curriculum, the students you share classes with care about them as much as you do!

Offer to organize a study group so that you can get to know the people you sit next to in every class.

Students congregate at campus picnicAttend campus events

Attending campus events is an awesome way to meet different people and a great way to learn about what’s happening on campus. And we’re not just talking about Harris parties!

You never know if you might hit it off with the person you sit next to at a Food House dinner or a movie night.

And did we mention that all campus events (even concerts!) are free?

Get a campus job

Whether it’s part of your financial aid package or just for extra spending money, getting a job on campus can be a wonderful way to meet other students.

Consider a job where you interact with people, like the bookstore, mailroom, or dining hall. Not only will you earn some extra cash, you’ll get to know your co-workers and meet a variety of students across different class years!

Man in Grinnell College shirt walks a dog at animal shelterVolunteer

Partner with Mid-Iowa Community Action (MICA) to help families in need, or put in some time at the Poweshiek Animal League Shelter (PALS).

Finding an organization on campus or in town where you can volunteer is a great way to meet people. You'll encounter people with similar interests while doing something you care about.


Everyone around you knows what it’s like to arrive somewhere where you don’t know anyone, and they’re all probably just as nervous to make friends as you are. The more you socialize the less awkward you’ll feel.

Be yourself, and before you know it you’ll be just as comfortable in your new home as you were in your old one!

Bonus Tips: If you’re an introvert …

  • Look to see if anyone in your class year has made a group Facebook page. This can be a great way to discover people who are interesting to you without the initial awkwardness of face-to-face interactions.
  • Try to find situations with built-in conversation starters, such as student clubs and activities, so that the situation does the small talk for you.
  • Remember to build in time to recharge! Don’t feel like you have to force yourself to be social all the time in order to make friends. Give yourself permission to take a bit of time each day to be alone doing something you love: go for a run, read a book, whatever you can do to re-energize. If you want to be around people, but aren’t feeling that talkative, try hanging out on the bean bag chairs in Burling or do some reading in the Laurel Leaf Lounge.

If you give yourself time to relax, you’ll feel much more comfortable when the time for socializing comes around!

Students competing in three-legged race

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.

Observatory Opens Doors to Young Students

Summer Observatory ProgramGrinnell College’s Summer Astronomy Program for students entering sixth, seventh, or eighth grade this fall offers the opportunity to explore planets, stars, and galaxies.

The program, set for 8 p.m. July 21, 22, and 23, features presentations, activities, and discussions. Weather permitting, each two-hour session will include observing astronomical objects with the telescope at the College's Grant O. Gale Observatory.

The observatory is north of Tenth Avenue and west of the railroad tracks; north of the baseball diamond and track.

Topics to be covered are:

July 21: Planets
What are planets like?
What makes a planet suitable for life?
Is there life elsewhere in our solar system, or in other solar systems?
July 22: Stars
What makes stars shine?
Where do stars come from and why do some of them end their lives as black holes?
What kinds of stars might have planets that could support life?
July 23: Galaxies and the Universe
What is the universe like?
How much do we know about where it came from and what will happen to it in the future?

The program is free and open to students entering sixth, seventh, and eighth grade this fall. Students who will start ninth grade this fall also may attend, if space permits. To register, call 269-3172 by Friday, July 17.

Although participants are encouraged to attend all three sessions, it’s possible to attend one or two. Each student may be accompanied by one adult.

For more information, contact Professor of Physics Bob Cadmus at 269-3016, 269-3014, or 236-8398.


Grinnell College's Summerfest is a free, daylong celebration of learning, discovery, and entertainment for curious minds of all ages. The event starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 6, with activities scheduled through 10 p.m. on the College campus. Immerse yourself in the academic, cultural, and social atmosphere of one of the nation’s top colleges. Connect, explore, discover!

The headlining act will be a fusion of marching band music, dance, and fire manipulation starting at dusk. Pyrotechniq, Chicago’s premier fire troupe, will team up with the Windy City’s favorite gang of marching band bunny rascals, Environmental Encroachment (EE), to present an unforgettable 45-minute production with original score provided by EE and a fully customized fire show.

During the day, the campus will come alive with a unique mix of engaging workshops, creative performances, artistic collaborations, and family-oriented activities presented by a range of area cultural organizations. Sample offerings include:

  • Des Moines’ jazz guru Max Wellman and painter Pat Millin
  • Des Moines Register reporter Jason Clayworth’s Lost Schools Series with Fairfield photographer Cody Weber and his Forgotten Iowa series
  • Sandy Moffett, professor emeritus of theatre, presenting an improvisational acting workshop
  • Marc Chamberland, Grinnell College Myra Steele Professor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, on the Secrets of Creativity: A mathematician’s perspective
  • The Nitch, an all ages Punch and Judy style mask performance
  • Tilly Woodward, curator of academic and community outreach at Faulconer Gallery, with See Art! Interpret Art! Make Art!
  • Blank Park Zoo, Every Animal Has a Story
  • Iowa Children’s Museum, Flying High with Rockets!

See the Summerfest site for more information and up-to-the-moment listing of the day’s offerings.

The festival is free and open to the public. In addition to local lodging, you can also reserve a dorm room and stay right on campus. For dorm availability and reservations, contact Conference Operations and Events.

MacArthur 'Genius Grant' Winner to Speak

Alison Bechdel, a noted cartoonist and graphic memoirist, will deliver the Scholars' Convocation at noon Wednesday, April 8, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. The lecture is free and open to the public with a free pizza lunch provided.

Bechdel is best known for her long-running comic strip, "Dykes to Watch Out For," which realistically captured lives of women in the lesbian community. Her comic strip is the origin of the well-known "Bechdel test," which asks if a film featuring two female characters has those characters talk to each other about something other than a man.​​

In recent years, Bechdel has penned several graphic memoirs, including "Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic" and "Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama." Her work, which is striking for its conceptual depth and incisive use of allusion, has earned her a devoted and varied following. In 2014, Bechdel earned a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a "Genius Grant." Bechdel's visit is sponsored in large part by Writers@Grinnell, who is also sponsoring a round table with Bechdel at 4:15 p.m. the same day in Rosenfield Center Room 209.

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.