During the months of June and July 2016, the Community Education Council, in conjunction with Grinnell College, will offer four courses on various subjects to adults in the community. The classes will be held on Wednesday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Caulkins Room at the Drake Community Library, 930 Park Street. Each course consists of two sessions. Refreshments will be served.

Classes are free. Please register so instructors can anticipate class size by emailing your contact information and the classes you wish to attend to Conference Operations and Events, calendar[at]grinnell[dot]edu, or calling 641-269-3235.

June 8, 15
Psychology of Humor

Janet Gibson

“Two muffins were sitting in an oven. One muffin says, ‘Wow, it sure is hot in here!’ The other muffin says, ‘Ahhh!!! A talking muffin!’” One person may think this is a very funny joke, and another may find it only mildly amusing. Why? The study of the psychology of humor is no laughing matter. Once thought to be too frivolous a topic for psychologists to study, psychological research on humor and laughter has increased in recent years.

In our readings, writings, and oral presentations, we will explore forms, functions, and applications of humor through the lenses of various psychology subdisciplines: psychoanalytic, cognitive, social, psychobiological, personality, developmental, health, and positive psychology. Perhaps by the end of the course, in addition to learning about psychology and humor, we will know how many tutorial students it takes to change a light bulb, or why people in jokes keep walking into bars. Prerequisites: Sense of humor not required but appreciated.

June 22, 29
Word and Image

Erik Simpson

From the engraved poetry of William Blake to Instagram, this tutorial will explore relationships between words and images in literature, the fine arts, politics, and new media. Readings will include Blake’s poetry, graphic novels such as Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Lynda Barry’s Syllabus, viral television segments and social media images, examples of political imagery that will be especially topical in anticipation of the upcoming Iowa Caucuses, and popular and scholarly commentary on such texts.

July 6, 13

Charlotte Christensen

As clock, compass, and calendar, the sky both anchors us in time and space and provides us with perspective on the Universe. As we will see, charting the apparent motion of the sun, planets, and stars is a near-universal method for tracking the passage of time and determining one’s location. However, different cultures throughout history have applied vastly different methodologies and interpretations to these basic principles.

In this tutorial, we will explore the different uses cultures have made of astronomy, including the creation of the Mayan calendar, the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza, and the development of celestial navigation. This exploration will include a study of human history and the dynamics of our solar system. Finally, we will discuss how our observations of the sky have shaped and continue to shape our understanding of the cosmos.

July 20, 27
Climate Change and the Paris Accords

Wayne Moyer

This course will provide an update on the current scientific knowledge on global climate change. Discussion will include the commitments made to deal with climate change at the December 2015 Paris Climate Conference and how the United States and other powers intend to meet their commitments. The adequacy of the commitments for dealing with the underlying problem will be considered.

The Faculty

Janet Gibson

Janet Gibson, Professor and Department Chair of Psychology at Grinnell College, holds a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from Rice University. Gibson joined the faculty at Grinnell College in 1989. She is a member of the Psychonomic Society, Midwestern Psychological Association, and is a member and adviser of the Grinnell Psi Chi chapter. Gibson’s research focuses on implicit memory, “the influence of past experience that facilitates or biases current performance in the absence of conscious recollection.” She has explored this aspect of memory “in the context of a) aging, b) problem solving, and c) its perceptual/conceptual nature.”

Erik Simpson

Erik Simpson, professor of English, holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. Simpson joined the faculty of Grinnell College in 2001. Erik Simpson's literature courses focus on British writing from Shakespeare to the present, especially the literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His primary research field is British and transatlantic literature of the Romantic period.

Simpson's second book, Mercenaries in British and American Literature, 1790-1830: Writing, Fighting, and Marrying for Money (2010) was published in Edinburgh Studies in Transatlantic Literatures from Edinburgh University Press. Simpson's first book, Literary Minstrelsy, 1770-1830: Minstrels and Improvisers in British, Irish, and American Literature, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2008. Material from this book has appeared in article form in ELH and European Romantic Review. A more detailed account of Simpson's research is available on the Minstrels and Mercenaries pages of his website. His interests in computer programming and the use of technology in humanistic inquiry have led Simpson to create Connections: A Hypertext Resource for Literature, which contains his online teaching materials along with other information, The Transatlantic 1790s, a database-backed site whose content is written by Grinnell College students, and other web projects described on the Grinnell College webpage.

Charlotte Christensen

Charlotte Christensen, assistant professor of physics, holds a Ph.D. from the University of Washington. Christensen joined the faculty of Grinnell College in 2014.

Christensen teaches multiple physics courses at the college and leads a tutorial on Archeoastronomy. Her current research interest in the “evolution of galaxies over the history of the Universe using high-resolution computer simulations.”

Wayne Moyer

Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science, and former director of the Rosenfield Public Affairs Program, holds a Ph.D. from Yale University. Moyer joined the Grinnell College faculty in 1972. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a B.A. (foreign affairs), he served for six years as a U.S. Navy submarine officer. He then returned to the academic world where he earned an M.A. in International Relations and M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in Political Science from Yale University.

Moyer served as director of the College’s Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations and Human Rights from 1985 until 2008. He has taught several first-year tutorials on the science and politics of climate change, and has twice team-taught the college’s Policy Studies senior seminar on Applied Policy Analysis — Climate Change.

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