Home » Scholars' Convocation

Scholars' Convocation

Urban Issues & Social Justice in Chicago

From Feb. 3-6, Grinnell College's Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights will sponsor a free, public symposium.

"Chicago: Urban Issues and Social Justice in the Windy City" will feature speakers and panelists from across the country, and will include discussions of economic justice, grassroots organizing, urban education, activism, and deindustrialization.

"In this symposium, we wanted to deal with American urban issues," says Ed Cohn, assistant professor of history and interim director of the Rosenfield Program. "In focusing on Chicago, a major American city close to Grinnell, we can discuss those issues in depth."

Virginia Parks, Associate Professor at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service AdministrationSpeakers will include Virginia Parks (pictured), associate professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago; Christine Walley, associate professor of anthropology at MIT; Barbara Ransby, professor of history at the University of Illinois at Chicago; and Kari Lydersen, freelance journalist and author.

The symposium also will feature "The Education Project Photo Exhibition" by photographer Sandra Steinbrecher. In this exhibition sponsored by the Faulconer Gallery, Steinbrecher has documented the struggles and triumphs of daily life in three Chicago high schools facing profound challenges. The exhibition runs from Jan. 26 through March 15 in Burling Gallery on the lower level of Burling Library.

On Feb. 5, Steinbrecher will lead a gallery tour and discuss her experiences working with high schools in Chicago, exploring how art, urban issues and politics intersect in her project. A reception will follow. Educators from Chicago area schools will join Steinbrecher on Feb. 6 for a panel discussion titled "Images and Issues in Urban Education." The Grinnell Careers in Education Professions program is co-sponsoring this event, which will be followed by a reception.

A complete schedule of events follows. All events are held in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101 unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, Feb. 3

4:15 p.m. Presentation

"The Exit Zero Project: Exploring the Aftermath of Deindustrialization in Chicago" by Christine Walley, author and associate professor of anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

8 p.m. presentation

"Mayor 1% and Shaping the New Chicago: The Reign of Rahm Emanuel, the 2015 Election and Beyond" by Kari Lydersen, Chicago journalist and author.

Wednesday, Feb. 4

12 p.m. Scholar's Convocation

"The Fight for Economic Justice from the Streets of Chicago" by Virginia Parks, associate professor, School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago.

8 p.m. Alumni Panel

Activism in Chicago, featuring Christian Snow '13, director of community engagement at Street-Level Youth Media, and Javon Garcia '14, health outreach at HIV Services at The Night Ministry.

Thursday, Feb. 5

4:15 p.m. Gallery Tour and Talk

"The Education Photo Project," a gallery tour and talk by artist Sandra Steinbrecher. Burling Gallery, Burling Library. Reception follows.

8 p.m. "Politics from Below: Grassroots Struggles Reshaping the Landscape of Chicago" by Barbara Ransby, professor of history, University of Illinois at Chicago.

Friday, Feb. 6

7 p.m. Panel Discussion

"Images and Issues in Urban Education" featuring panelists from Chicago area schools. Sponsored by the Grinnell Careers in Education Professions program in conjunction with "The Education Project Photo Exhibition." Reception follows.

Accessibility

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities.

The Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, located at 1115 Eighth Ave., is equipped with an induction hearing loop system in Room 101 and accessible parking on the east side of the building.

Burling Library is located at 1111 Sixth Ave. with accessible parking on the northeast side of the building.

Both buildings are accessible. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

Development at War

Michael LathamGrinnell College Dean Michael Latham will deliver the Scholars’ Convocation titled "Development at War: The United States and Modernization in South Vietnam."

His talk examines how the U.S. responded to global decolonization in the midst of the Cold War, and the role that concepts of development played in American strategic thinking.

“I’m interested in the fundamental ideas that have guided the way the U.S. thinks about the rest of the world,” says the history professor.

The lecture will be held at noon Wednesday, Nov. 12 in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Diverse models of economic development and social change became the subject of intense Cold War competition between the U.S., the former Soviet Union, and China, he says.

“That bridge between development, security concerns, and warfare appears in many other cases too,” he says. “You see it today in the way that American policymakers think about places like Iraq and Afghanistan.”

American liberals may indeed have had altruistic ambitions in terms of raising living standards and fighting poverty, but the U.S. also promoted economic development as a way to solve its concerns about security, he says. It often did so in ways that produced profoundly undemocratic and illiberal results, he says. He cites Vietnam as a classic example.

“The U.S was trying to create in South Vietnam a country where one had never existed before,” he says. “Trying to promote development not only to create and sustain a government, but win a devastating war.”

Latham’s talk is part of the ongoing Scholars’ Convocation series, which was created in the late 1970s.

MacArthur Winner to Deliver Scholars’ Convocation

Tara ZahraHistorian Tara Zahra will discuss “Exodus from the East: Emigration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World” in a Scholars’ Convocation at noon Sept. 24 in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center.

Zahra is a professor of history at the University of Chicago and the winner of a 2014 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

“I'm really excited that we'll be hosting a ground-breaking historian of Eastern European nationalism and the history of childhood a week after she won a MacArthur ‘genius grant’ for her new project on mass emigration out of the Habsburg Empire,” says Edward Cohn, assistant professor of history.

Zahra’s work centers on the history of childhood within the context of nationalism and state formation in Eastern Europe. She wrote Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900-1948. Her second book, The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe’s Families after World War II, analyzes how the “best interests” of children were defined in nationalist terms.

Her new project posits that mass emigration from Eastern Europe played an important role in defining ideas of freedom and community through Europe and America.

“Historians of the U.S. have been interested for years in how Eastern European immigrants changed America, but she asks a really fascinating question: how was Eastern Europe changed by the departure of nearly 10 percent of its population?” says Cohn.

Zahra received a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and a master’s and doctorate from the University of Michigan.

Her talk is part of the ongoing Scholars’ Convocation series.

A second MacArthur Fellow grant winner, cartoonist and graphic memoirist, Alison Bechdel, will speak during Convocation on April 8, 2015.

NPR this month ran a story about the legacy of poet Amy Clampitt ’41 who was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1992.

American Indians in Popular Imagination

Philip Deloria, professor of history and Native American studies at the University of Michigan, will deliver a Scholars’ Convocation on “American Indians in the American Popular Imagination” at noon Wednesday, April 16, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. The talk, which is part of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program, is the final Scholars’ Convocation of the year.

The event is free and open to the public.

Philip Deloria is the associate dean of undergraduate education at the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts, where he holds a joint appointment in the Department of American Culture and the Department of History. Deloria’s research focuses on issues of cultural representation, particularly concerning American Indian people, social and cultural relations in contact situations, and environmental and western American history.

Deloria is the author of two books:

  • Playing Indian examines how white Americans appropriated Indian traditions, images and clothing to shape national identity in different eras.
  • Indians in Unexpected Places challenges the seemingly static stereotype of American Indians by the “secret histories” of Native American people who helped shape modernity.

These books have been much honored: Indians in Unexpected Places received the John C. Ewers Prize in Ethnohistory from the Western History Association, and Playing Indian won a Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award. Deloria is also co-editor of the Blackwell Companion to American Indian History.

Deloria’s Convocation talk is sponsored by the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program, which offers undergraduates the opportunity to spend time with some of America’s most distinguished scholars. The 13 men and women participating during 2013-14 will visit 100 colleges and universities with chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, spending two days on each campus and taking full part in the academic life of the institution. They will meet informally with students and faculty members, participate in classroom discussions and seminars, and give a public lecture open to the entire academic community. Now entering its 58th year, the Visiting Scholar Program has sent 611 Scholars on 5,004 two-day visits.

The Sixth Extinction

Author Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer for The New Yorker and author of the new bestseller The Sixth Extinction: A Natural History, will deliver the Scholars’ Convocation at noon Wednesday, April 2, in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center.

Kolbert’s talk, “The Sixth Extinction,” is free and open to the public. A book signing follows.

In addition, Kolbert will conduct a roundtable on science writing at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, in Room 209 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center. This event is also open to the public at no charge.

Blending intellectual history, natural history and extensive field reporting, The Sixth Extinction examines the five major extinctions of the last half-billion years. The most recent extinction, which was 65 million years ago, killed dinosaurs and 75 percent of all life on the planet. Now, as Kolbert reports, scientists are monitoring the sixth extinction, which will likely be humankind’s most lasting legacy. Kolbert follows geologists, botanists, marine biologists and other scientists in the field, introducing a dozen species that are gone or now facing extinction.

Published in February, The Sixth Extinction has been praised as a passionate and persuasive call to action around environmental change. In a New York Times review, Vice President Al Gore said Kolbert “makes an irrefutable case that what we are doing to cause a sixth mass extinction is clearly wrong. And she makes it clear that doing what is right means accelerating our transition to a more sustainable world.”

A graduate of Yale, Kolbert worked for 15 years at The New York Times before becoming a staff writer for The New Yorker, where she wrote her three part series on global warming, “The Climate of Man.” This series of articles became the basis for her 2006 book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change, which describes her travels around the world to places where climate change is causing significant change in the environment. A Lannan Literary Fellowship recipient, Kolbert also has received a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Science Writing, two National Magazine Awards, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award, among others.

Kolbert’s visit to Grinnell College is sponsored as part of the College’s Scholars’ Convocation series with support from Writers@Grinnell, the Humanities Center and the Center for Prairie Studies.

The Origins of Mental Illness

Daniel S. Pine ’85, a section chief at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and a leading researcher on mood and anxiety disorders in young people, will deliver the Scholars’ Convocation at noon Wednesday, March 5.

Pine’s talk, “Seeking the Origins of Mental Illness and Finding Our Humanity,” will take place in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101. The free event is open to the public.

Pine is chief of the Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience at NIMH. He and his team at the NIMH Intramural Research Program work to understand stress and anxiety in children and adolescents and develop novel treatments for pediatric emotional problems. Pine’s most recent work examines how mood and anxiety disorders in young people are associated with underlying abnormalities of various regions of the brain. 

Before joining the NIMH, Pine spent 10 years teaching, training, and conducting research at the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University. He has chaired the Child and Adolescent Diagnosis Group for the DSM-5 Task Force and also was chair of the Psychopharmacologic Drug Advisory Committee for the Food and Drug Administration.

The author of more than 350 peer-reviewed papers, Pine has received a number of awards for his work, including the Joel Elkes Award from the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, the Blanche Ittelson Award from the American Psychiatric Association, and the Ruane Prize from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

After Science, There’s Laundry

Judith Klinman

Judith Klinman, professor of the graduate school and chancellor’s professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is presenting two lectures on Wednesday, Nov. 20:

Scholars’ Convocation:  noon in Rosenfield Center Room 101.

Chemistry Lecture: 4:15 p.m. in Noyce 2022.

Both events are free and open to the public.

In her convocation lecture, Klinman will describe “a personal and scientific odyssey,” exploring her family background and how enzymes work generally. She will also talk about women in academics and science, and how women can balance bread, family relationships, and research.  Although her focus will be mainly on women in academics and science, says Elizabeth Trimmer, associate professor of chemistry, “I hope that men would also be interested in attending.”

In her second lecture, Klinman will discuss her research into enzymes that use copper to catalyze their reactions, including one that catalyzes the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine, a very important reaction in neurotransmitter biosynthesis. 

A chemistry professor of the Graduate School Division of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, Klinman studies proteins and enzymes, looking for the fundamental properties that underlie reactions in the human body. Her current research in enzyme catalysis with her research group focuses on hydrogen tunneling, methyl transfer, and protein dynamics, protein- and peptide-derived cofactors, and oxygen activation.

In 1978, Klinman became the first woman professor in the chemistry department of the University of California, Berkeley. She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and is the former president of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Klinman is 2013 Danforth Lecturer at Grinnell. The Danforth lectureship was established in honor of Professor Joe Danforth, who taught chemistry at Grinnell from 1947 to 1979.Traditionally, the Danforth lecturer has given two presentations, a departmental talk and a general interest lecture. The speaker also interacts significantly with our biological chemistry and chemistry majors.

Religious Studies Expert Jeffrey Kripal Sets Grinnell College Convocation Talk on Superheroes, Religion, and the Paranormal

Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013 4:58 pm | Contact: Stacey Schmeidel

 

Grinnell, Iowa -- Jeffrey Kripal—a prominent religious scholar who also has written about mutants, mystics, comic book superheroes and the paranormal—will deliver the Scholars’ Convocation at Grinnell College at noon on Wednesday, Dec. 4. Titled “Authors of the Impossible: How to Think About the Paranormal,” the talk will take place in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center. The event is open to the public at no charge.

Kripal also will deliver the annual Religious Studies Gates Lecture, titled “Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics and the Paranormal,” at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center. This event is open to the public at no charge.

One of the few in his field who advocate including the paranormal in religious studies, Kripal holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought in the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University. He is chiefly interested in the comparative erotics of mystical literature, the history of American metaphysical religion, the history of western esotericism, and the interface between the paranormal and American pop culture.

Kripal is the author of six books, the first of which, Kali’s Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna, won the American Academy of Religion’s History of Religions Prize for Best First Book in 1995. It also garnered controversy in the western world and India, where activists have attempted to have the book banned.

Two of Kripal’s books—Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion and Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred—are being made into documentary films.

Kripal’s Grinnell lecture is part of the college’s ongoing Scholars’ Convocation series. Grinnell welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Information on parking and accessibility is available on the college website. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or calendar[at]grinnell[dot]edu.

Superheroes, Religion, and the Paranormal

Jeffrey Kripal — a prominent religious scholar who also has written about mutants, mystics, comic book superheroes and the paranormal — will deliver two lectures on Wednesday, Dec. 4.

  • Scholars’ Convocation: “Authors of the Impossible: How to Think About the Paranormal”
    Noon, Wednesday, Dec. 4, Rosenfield Center Room 101
  • Religious Studies' annual  Gates Lecture: “Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics and the Paranormal”
    7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, Rosenfield Center Room 101

No tickets are required for these free public performances.

One of the few in his field who advocate including the paranormal in religious studies, Kripal holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought in the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University. He is chiefly interested in the comparative erotics of mystical literature, the history of American metaphysical religion, the history of western esotericism, and the interface between the paranormal and American pop culture.

Kripal is the author of six books, the first of which, Kali’s Child: The Mystical and the Erotic in the Life and Teachings of Ramakrishna, won the American Academy of Religion’s History of Religions Prize for Best First Book in 1995. It also garnered controversy in the western world and India, where activists have attempted to have the book banned.

Two of Kripal’s books — Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion and Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred — are being made into documentary films.

Grinnell welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. If you need accommodations, please contact Conference Operations at 641-269-3235.