Location

Macy House, Grinnell CollegeThe Center for Prairie Studies is located in the Jesse Macy House, 1205 Park Street, the home for the Center since 2008.

Mission

The Center for Prairie Studies promotes understanding of and connection to our place and its people.

The Center’s mission is to stimulate a broad understanding of nature and culture in the tallgrass prairie region, of how and why the region has changed over time, and of the challenges it faces today. Beyond seeking understanding, we are interested in cultivating a “sense of place” and in the goal of living sustainably in place. We encourage the Grinnell community to engage in responsible action toward that end.

What We Do

  • Promote attention to the prairie region in courses across the curriculum
  • Sponsor lectures, symposia, workshops and exhibitions on regional topics
  • Lead tours to and restoration efforts in local natural areas
  • Support student research projects, writing, and artistic expression related to our region
  • Fund summer internships for students

History

Grinnell College established the Center for Prairie Studies in 1999 to promote Grinnell’s location as a teaching and learning resource and a place to engage in service.

The name "prairie studies" was selected to acknowledge our inescapable connection to the land and also because of its resonance with such varied subjects as prairie style architecture, prairie populism, and the prairie-plains indigenous culture area. From its inception, the Center for Prairie Studies has been strongly committed to bringing together scientific, humanistic, and artistic perspectives on the natural and cultural aspects of our region, past and present.

Activities

The Center sponsors courses and course components, public lectures, symposia, art exhibits, musical and theatrical performances, academic-year and summer student internships, faculty development, field trips, and publications that explore the natural and cultural aspects of our community and its locale.

Faculty members associated with the Center come from the humanities, sciences, and social studies.

The Center maintains a close relationship with the College’s Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA), a 365-acre field station 11 miles west of Grinnell.

The Center for Prairie Studies also collaborates with numerous community and regional organizations in furthering its mission.