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 2020 Courses

The Social Impact of Documentary Film

Over the last two decades, documentary film has increasingly become a tool for social engagement and impactful advocacy. In this short course, we will examine a series of films that seek to stimulate audience response, change public opinion, and inspire action. But have they had the desired impact? We will also inquire whether the films’ outreach campaigns have led to measurable change. Join us as we examine the power of nonfiction film to change reality.
Taught by Andrew Sherburne ’01

Mediation and Conflict Transformation for Leadership

This course introduces students to the work of mediators in assisting parties in conflict. Mediators act as neutral third-party facilitators of calm and focused discussion to create understanding and resolution of differences. Students will learn to mediate disputes in hands-on simulations, observe mediation, and discuss skills and values mediators bring. As mediators students will learn how to guide parties to resolve their differences.
Taught by Kim Stamatelos

The Startup Ecosystem: Entrepreneurs and Investors

This course will expose students to the startup ecosystem by understanding how entrepreneurs and investors behave both on an individual and collective level. Through this course, we will examine the following: growth in technology startups, startup ideas and team formation, financing of entrepreneurial ventures, international startup markets, and much more. The course will benefit students who are considering starting a business, joining a startup, and/or are aspiring investors.
Taught by Hemant Bhardwaj ’07

Creative Careers: Learning from Alumni

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.
Taught by Mark Baechtel

SPARK Challenge

This course provides a series of workshops to support participants in the SPARK Community-Based Social Innovation Challenge and others who are looking for 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.
Taught by Prof. Monty Roper

Fall 2019 Courses

Starting a For-Profit Business: Lessons for the Aspiring Entrepreneur

This course identifies the challenges and rewards, the successes and failures that face every entrepreneur starting up a business. Student will see business foundation as the realization of the “idea.” Students should leave this course with a better understanding of the pain and joy of creating a successful company.
Taught by Atul Gupta ’88

SPARK Social Innovation Challenge

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.
Taught by Prof. Monty Roper

Creative Careers: Learning from Alumni

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.
Taught by Mark Baechtel

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