Wilson Center Courses

Courses Tailored Toward Leadership & Innovation

The Wilson Center sponsors courses that complement the existing curriculum of majors and concentrations, as well as provides course offerings in areas of student demand consistent with our mission but with no departmental home.

Wilson gives special attention to connecting our students with professionals, particularly alumni, who serve as leaders and innovators in their fields and can offer inspiration, mentorship, and valuable lessons. Our courses also feature opportunities for discovery-mode, practice-based or experiential learning.

Each year, Wilson offers a core repertoire of courses, including our highly popular Creative Careers: Learning from Alumni. Wilson also sponsors a number of short courses with diverse and varying foci, often taught by our accomplished alumni. Lastly, Wilson sponsors enhancements to existing courses to add opportunities for leadership and innovation to the existing curriculum.

Spring 2019 Courses

Ethical Leadership in an Interconnected World

Apr. 1 - Apr. 22

This course addresses ethical issues from the perspective of disparate stakeholders related to the growing use of big data and the internet. Students will frequently discuss case studies, engage in group work, and prepare memos. 

Instructor: Steve Weiss '77

Steve Weiss is a retired general counsel and senior vice president of MidAmerican Energy Company, an electric and gas utility subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc

Realizing the Right to Food: Social Movements, Innovation and Conflict

Feb. 20 - Mar. 14

Grinnell College is near the US center of power and discourse about agricultural innovation. However, there are other important centers and different types of innovation. This short course briefly reviews ideas about hunger, and moves on to explore sites of innovation involving social movements.  For example, peasant farmers and indigenous peoples are leading debates on the right to food at the United Nations while social movements have begun to end hunger in Belo Horizonte Brazil.

Instructor: Doug Hertzler

Doug Hertzler is a Senior Policy Analyst on land rights issues at ActionAid USA. He has a deep personal background in agriculture, having been raised in dairy, corn, soy, and vegetable farming in central Pennsylvania.

SPARK Social Innovation Challenge

Jan. 28 - Apr. 22

This course provides a series of workshops to support participants in the SPARK Community-Based Social Innovation Challenge and others who are looking to build their skills in researching and effectively presenting solutions to social problems. Fall and spring versions have distinct content. The SPARK Challenge pairs Grinnell organizations and students to address poverty related challenges faced by the larger Grinnell community. The challenge concludes in the spring with a pitch contest in which one proposal can earn up to $15,000 in implementation funding.

Instructor: Prof. Monty Roper

Sustainability and Social Responsibility in Organizations

Jan. 22- May 16

The concepts of ecological, economic, and social sustainability in organizations will be examined in detail. Similarly, we will examine the expanding practice of corporate social responsibility, which was pioneered by Howard Bowen, President of Grinnell College from 1955 to 1963. We will find these practices of sustainability and social responsibility require leadership and innovation, practices embedded in Grinnell culture. 

Instructor: Prof. Doug Caulkins

Creative Careers: Learning from Alumni

Jan. 25 - May 17

Alumni with significant careers in the humanities, social sciences and sciences return to campus to talk about the ways that they shaped their successes and learned from their failures after graduation. Leadership and career-focused readings together with discussions with 18 or more alumni will help students think creatively about their possible futures. The second goal of this course is to help create a multi-generational network or community of Grinnell alumni, faculty, and current students in order to enhance our potential for changing the world to promoting the stewardship of Grinnell College. 

Instructor: Prof. Doug Caulkins