Grinnell Offers Summer Classes for the First Time Since 1947

The spirit of community and desire to care for students prompted the quick development of summer classes during the COVID-19 pandemic

August 07, 2020

Summer school isn’t traditionally a thing at Grinnell. For decades, summer has been reserved for student experiences outside the classroom, especially research projects, internships, and jobs.

But the COVID-19 pandemic has been the grand disruptor of plans. As travel restrictions went into effect in February 2020, Grinnell leaders recognized that more students than usual would need to remain on campus during the summer.

Then more dominoes began to fall. Students who were studying abroad had their programs canceled. Students on campus were sent home and asked to complete their courses remotely. That swift change entailed major challenges and created disproportionate impacts on students.

So, for multiple reasons, a college that hasn’t offered summer classes since 1947 decided to offer a handful — in case some students wanted or needed to take a class. The College invited about 270 students to register for summer classes.

When the College put out a call for volunteers to teach during the summer, more than 60 faculty and staff responded. “That says a lot about their commitment to our students,” says Mark Levandoski, associate dean of faculty development and professor of chemistry.

“We wanted to be able to offer a set of courses that would reflect the liberal arts,” he says. Also, it was important to offer introductory 100- and 200-level courses because of the likelihood that they’d be of interest to and needed by more students than upper-level courses.

The College ended up offering 5 courses, all of them taught remotely:

  • Anthropology 210: Illness, Healing, and Culture, taught by Maria Tapias, professor of anthropology (4 credits, summer 2 term)
  • Computer Science 151: Functional Problem-Solving, taught by Peter-Michael Osera, assistant professor of computer science (4 credits, full summer term)
  • Environmental Studies 295: History of Infectious Diseases, taught by David Campbell, Henry R. Luce Professor of Nations and the Global Environment (2 credits, summer 1 term)
  • History 223: Health and Medicine in American History, taught by Carolyn Lewis, associate professor of history (4 credits, summer 1 term)
  • Philosophy/Political Science 264: Political Theory II, taught by Johanna Meehan, McCay-Casady Professor of Humanities (4 credits, summer 1 term)

We talked with a few of these professors to learn more about their courses and why they wanted to teach during the summer.


This story is part of a series about Grinnell's summer classes in 2020:


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