Wilson Center Courses

Courses Tailored Toward Leadership and 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 2023 

Resourcing Social Change (WIL-101)

Short course taught by Diane Marty '92You seek change - whether it's nonprofit work addressing something you care about or your own great idea. To create your desired impact requires resources. Through this course you'll gain a high-level overview of fundraising principles, strategies, and techniques to research potential funders, align your interests with theirs, and utilize a donor-centric approach in your work. The outcome is that you'll be better positioned and prepared ahead...whether you're seeking financial investment or simply making connections.

Spark Challenge (WIL-110)

Taught by J. Montgomery Roper. Students are provided with a framework and guidance as they research and present solutions to social problems in the community using a hybrid approach based on applied anthropology, design thinking, and policy analysis. Students may focus on issues they have identified themselves or tackle an issue identified by a Grinnell community organization. While not required, all students are encouraged to pitch their solutions for the chance to win up to $10,000 as part of the Wilson Center's SPARK Challenge. All SPARK participants must enroll in the class for credit or as an audit.

Foundational Elements of Marketing Campaigns (WIL-201)

Short course taught by Katy Wells. This course will explore the phases of building a successful marketing campaign – performing research, developing a messaging strategy, creating a perfect media mix, delivering creative material, and analyzing success. Working in groups, students will have an opportunity to build an entire marketing campaign from scratch by selecting a faux product from a real industry. As students gain knowledge on the process, final presentations may be printed and used for portfolios.

Learning from Alumni (WIL-210)

Taught by Henry Reitz '89Students engage with alumni to learn about their lives and careers. Leadership and career-focused readings together with discussion with alumni will help students think creatively about their Grinnell education and 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.

Fall 2022

Just Following Up: An Introduction to Freelance Journalism

Short course taught by Leigh Kunkel ’09. This course will cover the practicalities of freelancing, from how to identify stories to building a platform on social media, as well as how to use those tools to build a more ethical, diverse, and sustainable future for the profession. It’s an overview of everything you’ll need to start out as a freelance journalist — other than the writing part. 

Real Life Entrepreneurship

Short course taught by Sanjay Khanna ’85. Students will gain insights into business realities and pitfalls. They will learn how to establish a company as an entrepreneur, and how to improve a business segment within an existing company as an intrapreneur. 

Creative Careers: Learning from Alumni

Taught by Henry Reitz 89. 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 alumni will help students think creatively about their possible futures. The second goal 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.

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