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Balanced Performance

Ever wonder about handling the rigors of both academics and athletics at Grinnell?

Fully one third of Grinnell’s student body participates in varsity athletics. And while many Grinnell students achieve big things in sports (search Jack Taylor 138), all Grinnell student athletes find their own way to combine passion for athletics with academic priorities.

Anushka Joshi ’18 holds tennis racket with book, balls balanced on topAnushka Joshi ’18 came to campus two weeks before classes to prepare for the fall tennis season. “Coach (Andy Hamilton ’85) sends us a workout schedule for summer, so he expects us to be in top form with our tennis as well as our fitness,” Joshi says. “The first two weeks we played five hours a day.”  

Joshi is among six to eight players on the squad of 20 who traveled most weekends and played every Saturday until fall break in October. This year, having built a 9-1 record in a tie for second place after fall conference play, the team will also have a short spring season before going to the 2016 NCAA automatic qualifier tournament.  

Joshi says sports at The British School in her native Nepal were not nearly as intense as they are at Grinnell. She handled her first year here fairly easily. But with 200-level courses this year, she questioned if she could pull it off all season.

“The first weekend, six of us played for six hours straight,” Joshi says. “I was thinking ‘can I do this every week?’ I had so much studying to do on Sunday. But, I mean, I couldn’t quit. We have seniors on our team doing biochem and they’re managing, so I thought to myself ‘I can do this, too.’”

Joshi says getting a head start on her reading and doing homework as soon as it is assigned are strategies for a workable balance.

“It’s a handful, but it’s fun,” Joshi says, “Definitely you have to focus on academics, because it is academics first at Grinnell.”

Joel Baumann ’18 says athletics and academics fit together well at Grinnell because “coaches here respect academics. They’re very clear on emphasizing that you are always a student first.”

Baumann runs cross country and specializes in the 800 meters during indoor and outdoor track seasons. Training is “pretty much continuous” with a two or three week break between each season. “For all intents and purposes, it’s year-long running,” he says.

This fall Baumann is combining a rigorous cross country regimen with macro economics, a 200-level poli sci course, French, and environmental studies. “We have an open curriculum and a wide variety of courses to choose from, so I’m able to schedule my day in a way that makes sense for me,” Baumann says.

On a typical day Baumann goes to class the entire morning, then works afternoons in the Admission office as overnight host coordinator for prospective male students. He takes an hour to relax or study before a two-hour practice that starts at 4:15 p.m. Following dinner with the team, his evenings are dedicated to homework for the next day.

Baumann says daily discipline “allows your body and your mind to adjust to doing certain things at certain times throughout the day.

“I enjoy being in athletics because it forces you to plan your day and develop good time management skills,” Baumann says. “You have to be really strict with your regimen.”

Anushka Joshi ’18 is from Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Nepal. She is considering computer science and economics as possible majors, and hopes to study abroad next year. Joel Baumann ’18, a native of Grinnell, intends to pursue a double major in political science and economics.

Churchill: The Politician as Playwright

Jonathan Rose will deliver a Scholars' Convocation on "Churchill: The Politician as Playwright" at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 1, in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Although he was known chiefly as a politician and wartime leader, Churchill was also a best-selling author, winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953. In Rose's latest book, The Literary Churchill: Writer, Reader, Actor, he introduces readers to "a Winston Churchill we have not known before." The Washington Post's review of the book states "In this sometimes speculative but immensely enjoyable biography, Jonathan Rose shows that Churchill’s authorial and political careers were entwined and inseparable."

Rose is William R. Kenan Professor of History at Drew University.

He was the founding president of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing, and he is coeditor of that organization’s journal, Book History.  His book The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (2nd ed., 2010) won the Longman-History Today Historical Book of the Year Prize, the American Philosophical Society Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History, the British Council Prize of the North American Conference on British Studies, the SHARP Book History Prize, and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities Book Prize. 

His other publications include The Edwardian Temperament, The Holocaust and the Book: Destruction and Preservation, and A Companion to the History of the Book (with Simon Eliot). 

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.


Constitution Day Reading Discussion Group

Join the Rosenfield Program to celebrate Constitution Day by discussing excerpts from the new book The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic by Yale Law professor Akhil Reed Amar.

With Professor Sarah Purcell leading the discussion, we'll discuss chapters 5 and 6 on Kansas and Iowa — plus anything else that interests you.

Meet with the reading group over lunch, from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 209.

The book is available for sale in the Grinnell College Bookstore (students can charge the cost to the Rosenfield Program if cost is prohibitive), and an electronic copy can be accessed through the Library catalog.

Akhil Reed Amar will be speaking at Grinnell on September 23.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations 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.

Grinnellian Receives Gilman Scholarship

Emma Lange ’16 has been awarded a federally funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to support her study abroad during the spring 2015 semester.

Lange plans to study the impact of technology on democracy and citizenship at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"Denmark is hailed as having a strong democracy and deeply happy citizens," Lange says. "Learning from Danish political scientists and experiencing Danish life will be formative in my studies of political and social science. I also will have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the social integration of technologies and politics through a course titled Rewriting Democracy: iCitizenship and e-governance in a Nordic Context."

At Grinnell College, she is active in mock trial and serves as administrative coordinator for the Student Government Association and as an advocate for first-generation college students.

"I am extremely appreciative of the Gilman Scholarship for making my semester abroad a possibility," Lange says. "In addition to academic growth, my semester in Copenhagen will provide great personal growth.

"This will be the first time I meet my father's extended family. After World War II, my grandparents emigrated from Germany to the United States, while other family members resettled in Denmark. We have recently reconnected with my father's family in Copenhagen, and I am very excited to meet and spend a few months getting to know my relatives."

Lange is the third member of her family to attend Grinnell. Her older brothers, Adam and Andy, graduated from the College in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Andy also received a Gilman International Scholarship, which supported his study abroad in Freiburg, Germany.

About the Gilman Scholarship

The Gilman Scholarship is a competitive federal grant program that "provides awards for U.S. undergraduate students receiving Federal Pell Grant funding to participate in study abroad programs worldwide." The program aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go by supporting undergraduates who might otherwise not participate due to financial constraints.

Emma Lange ’16 is majoring in political science and technology studies and is from Carroll, Iowa.

Soviet Studies

Sarah Weitekamp ’15 spent her summer poring over underground publications and KGB records for her Mentored Advanced Project (MAP). Translating as she went, she scoured her sources for accounts of Lithuanian Catholics being oppressed by the Soviet secret police. She worked with Edward Cohn, assistant professor of history, whose research focuses on the use of profilaktika — preventive warnings — by the Soviet Union’s secret police in the Baltic States.

MAPs allow students to reach beyond their regular coursework and work on projects that get them mistaken for graduate students. They can be performed with a team or individually, and give students the opportunity to work one-on-one with a professor. Weitekamp was one of three students working with Cohn over the summer.

Lucy McGowan ’15 and Luke Panciera ’16 also completed MAPs on the Soviet secret police. Panciera used a collection of oral history interviews known as the Harvard Project on the Soviet Social System to examine what many citizens under Stalin thought about the secret police — the NKVD — and its informers. McGowan used an underground dissident publication known as A Chronicle of Current Events to research the ways that the human rights movement and the Soviet regime used the legacy of World War II to win legitimacy for their cause.

More than a third of Grinnell students complete a MAP during their college career. They offer an opportunity to take part in faculty research, pursue a creative or artistic project, or complete one’s own research. In recent years, students have translated Beowulf, written advanced papers and presented them at national and international conferences, and staged original plays as part of their MAPs.

Weitekamp researched the persecution of Catholics in Lithuania from the 1950s to the 1980s using Russian-language sources from the Lithuanian KGB and an underground publication written by Catholic dissidents. The KGB documents present a challenge because they are in the original Russian, and the KGB’s language is highly euphemistic. “They’ll say something like, ‘We had a chat with a group of youths,’ that sort of thing,” Weitekamp says. It doesn’t take too much imagination to understand that the KGB’s approach was far more brutal than its reports suggest.

Having a double major in history and Russian opened up the opportunity for Weitekamp to work with primary sources in Russian as well as translations. She was able to go through the church documents faster because they were in English, but she was grateful to be able to go back to the original Russian and make her own translation.

“I get the viewpoint of the KGB and I get the viewpoint of the church, and in putting them together, hopefully I get a more holistic understanding of what was really going on,” says Weitekamp. History, she says, is about more than what happened, though. It’s about what people thought and believed about what was happening.

One of the main reasons Weitekamp and Cohn are researching the Lithuanian KGB is that the Baltic states experienced even greater repression than most other Soviet-controlled regions. Another is that most KGB documents are still classified in Russia. Lithuania’s KGB archives are much more accessible, allowing scholars to understand how the secret police confronted dissents in the Baltic republics and beyond.

Lucy McGowan ’15 is a history major from Nantucket, Mass. Sarah Weitekamp ’15 is a history/Russian double major from Raymond, Ill. Luke Panciera ’16 is a political science/Russian major from Broken Arrow, Okla.


Cambronero wins Student Research Award

Andres CambroneroAndres Cambronero '15 recently won the 2014 Student Research Award at the North Central Council of Latin Americanists' annual conference for his paper "The Effects of Partisanship on Opinion Formation in the 2007 Referendum on CAFTA in Costa Rica."  

The competitive award is given to a student whose work best contributes to new knowledge of Latin America.

Cambronero is a political science and German double-major.

Summer Research in Burling

Summer in Grinnell may seem quiet. But four Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) students who are working with Sarah Purcell ’92, professor of history, find it the best time to focus on in-depth research.

The students are working on independent projects related to deaths in the U.S. Civil War and to their commemoration:

  • Elizabeth Sawka ’15, history — Civil War military chaplains' sermons;
  • Irene Bruce ’15, history and anthropology — African American mortality in Louisiana in 1860 and 1870;
  • Joseph Kathan ’15, history and gender, women, and sexuality studies — how Clara Barton was able to subvert the gender norms of the time and become a successful nurse and humanitarian during and after the Civil;
  • Peter Bautz ’15, history and political science — U.S. Civil War veterans' reunions and how they shaped views about the meaning of death in the Civil War

While researching on their own, the group of students has met frequently with Purcell in Burling Library throughout the summer to share their progress and to discuss historical texts and sources.

Purcell says that she spends a lot of time with her students, as Burling is a comfortable place to work and to learn and that the library provides an excellent scholarly atmosphere. With so many research tools close at hand — books, scholarly databases, microfilmed census records, and rare primary source material in Grinnell’s Special Collections and Archives — Purcell and her summer students have called upon the library faculty and staff for help. 

Burling Computing Lab, pictured here, is a great place for Purcell to demonstrate research techniques to her students. And even though historians often work on solitary projects, these researchers have all gotten to be part of a community of students, faculty, and staff in Burling this summer.