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Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America

A panel of four Iowa-based writers, editors, thinkers, and environmentalists will discuss Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America, the country's first anthology of creative writing that explores hydraulic fracturing, at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. The discussion is free and open to the public.

Debra Marquart, Carolyn Raffensperger, Frederick Kirschenmann, and Taylor Brorby will all read their work from the anthology and explore impacts of hydraulic fracking on Iowa.

The Center for Prairie Studies and the Environmental Studies Concentration are sponsoring the event.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from Conference Operations and Events.

Debra Marquart

Marquart is a professor of English at Iowa State University, teaching in the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing and Environment. The author of a memoir, The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere and two poetry collections, she has received numerous honors for her work, including John Guyon Nonfiction Award, the Mid-American Review Nonfiction Award, a New York Times Editor's Choice commendation, and a 2008 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Prose Fellowship.

Carolyn Raffensperger

Raffensperger is an environmental lawyer specializing in the changes in law and policy necessary to address climate change and preserve public health and the environment. She is executive director of the Science and Environmental Health network, and has edited three comprehensive volumes on the precautionary principle of environmental law. Her work has been featured in Gourmet magazine, the Utne Reader, Yes! Magazine, the Sun, Whole Earth, and Scientific American.

Frederick Kirschenmann

A national expert in sustainable agriculture, Kirschenmann is a family farmer, writer, and scholar on ecology. He has held numerous appointments, including director of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. He also has served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Standards Board and the National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. His farm has been featured in numerous publications, including National Geographic, Business Week, Audubon, and Gourmet magazine, for its diverse crop rotation and productivity without using synthetic inputs. His book, Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher, traces the evolution of his ecological and farming philosophy over the past 30 years.

Taylor Brorby

The editor of Fracture, Taylor Brorby is an award-winning essayist, poet and environmentalist. He is currently pursuing his masters of fine arts in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University. His work has been featured on Minnesota Public Radio and North Dakota Public Radio and in numerous newspapers. A talented writer himself, he is currently working on two poetry collections, one related to the Bakken oil boom and the other about the Adirondacks in upstate New York, as well as an essay collection about western North Dakota.

Balanced Performance

Ever wonder about handling the rigors of both academics and athletics at Grinnell?

Fully one third of Grinnell’s student body participates in varsity athletics. And while many Grinnell students achieve big things in sports (search Jack Taylor 138), all Grinnell student athletes find their own way to combine passion for athletics with academic priorities.

Anushka Joshi ’18 holds tennis racket with book, balls balanced on topAnushka Joshi ’18 came to campus two weeks before classes to prepare for the fall tennis season. “Coach (Andy Hamilton ’85) sends us a workout schedule for summer, so he expects us to be in top form with our tennis as well as our fitness,” Joshi says. “The first two weeks we played five hours a day.”  

Joshi is among six to eight players on the squad of 20 who traveled most weekends and played every Saturday until fall break in October. This year, having built a 9-1 record in a tie for second place after fall conference play, the team will also have a short spring season before going to the 2016 NCAA automatic qualifier tournament.  

Joshi says sports at The British School in her native Nepal were not nearly as intense as they are at Grinnell. She handled her first year here fairly easily. But with 200-level courses this year, she questioned if she could pull it off all season.

“The first weekend, six of us played for six hours straight,” Joshi says. “I was thinking ‘can I do this every week?’ I had so much studying to do on Sunday. But, I mean, I couldn’t quit. We have seniors on our team doing biochem and they’re managing, so I thought to myself ‘I can do this, too.’”

Joshi says getting a head start on her reading and doing homework as soon as it is assigned are strategies for a workable balance.

“It’s a handful, but it’s fun,” Joshi says, “Definitely you have to focus on academics, because it is academics first at Grinnell.”

Joel Baumann ’18 says athletics and academics fit together well at Grinnell because “coaches here respect academics. They’re very clear on emphasizing that you are always a student first.”

Baumann runs cross country and specializes in the 800 meters during indoor and outdoor track seasons. Training is “pretty much continuous” with a two or three week break between each season. “For all intents and purposes, it’s year-long running,” he says.

This fall Baumann is combining a rigorous cross country regimen with macro economics, a 200-level poli sci course, French, and environmental studies. “We have an open curriculum and a wide variety of courses to choose from, so I’m able to schedule my day in a way that makes sense for me,” Baumann says.

On a typical day Baumann goes to class the entire morning, then works afternoons in the Admission office as overnight host coordinator for prospective male students. He takes an hour to relax or study before a two-hour practice that starts at 4:15 p.m. Following dinner with the team, his evenings are dedicated to homework for the next day.

Baumann says daily discipline “allows your body and your mind to adjust to doing certain things at certain times throughout the day.

“I enjoy being in athletics because it forces you to plan your day and develop good time management skills,” Baumann says. “You have to be really strict with your regimen.”

Anushka Joshi ’18 is from Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Nepal. She is considering computer science and economics as possible majors, and hopes to study abroad next year. Joel Baumann ’18, a native of Grinnell, intends to pursue a double major in political science and economics.

Nature: A Walking Play

Grinnell College will host three outdoor performances of “Nature — A Walking Play” about Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau from Sept. 11-13 at the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA).

TigerLion Arts will present the mythic telling of Emerson and Thoreau’s mutual love affair with the natural world. Grounded in the story of their friendship, the production offers a perspective on their lives that is strikingly relevant, richly complex, and yet utterly simple. 

Broadening the Mind

Off-campus study (OCS) is a major part of the Grinnell experience, in part because so many students — nearly 60 percent — spend at least one semester away from campus. That was one of the reasons Florian Perret ’15 chose Grinnell. “I have this wanderlust,” he says. “I wanted to get out of the U.S. to expand my horizons and get out there.”

Exploring the World

“I wanted to go to Japan since I was a kid,” says Perret. He participated in an intensive Japanese language program at Nanzan University in Nagoya where he also took courses in culture and art, Japanese religion, calligraphy, and traditional woodblock printing. "That last one was my favorite class when I was there,” he says. “You get a block of wood and carve out the image; doing those for a semester was cathartic.”

He spent his time outside of class exploring the city and the surrounding area, playing Frisbee, and once climbing Mount Fuji and watching the dawn break from the summit. “My study abroad experience was life-changing,” he says. That’s one of the reasons he’s going back through the Japan Exchange & Teaching Program. He also wants to engage more with the culture. “I’m doing an independent study on the perception and understanding of nature in Japan,” he says. “I want to go back to both see the implications of and further the research I’ve done here.”

Changing Her Perceptions

Emily Stuchiner ’15’s perception of off-campus study changed drastically between her first year and when she participated in the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) program in South Africa. “When I thought of off-campus study, I thought of getting drunk in Europe. I didn’t anticipate how rigorous it would be.” Stuchiner wouldn’t trade her OCS experience for anything. “It was so intense,” she says, “and incredibly rewarding. This is one of the most hardcore ecology programs out there and gave me the opportunity to do so much field research.” The program took her all over South Africa, including the famed Kruger National Park, one of the largest game reserves in Africa. “You’re essentially surrounded by the iconic African megafauna there,” she says.

Finding Her Passion

Before her semester abroad, Stuchiner considered pursuing medical school. But after a summer internship doing cancer research made her “a horrible hypochondriac,” she was thrilled to immerse herself, that fall, in the world of biological field research. Her education extended far beyond mere academics. “That semester [in South Africa] taught me a lot about patience and going with it,” she says. “Because there are times that you’re in the field and it’s hot and things aren’t going right and you just want to stick your head in a termite mound.”

The same lesson applied to the living situation during her semester abroad. “It’s communal living,” she says. “You’re always going to be around the same people and you have to work out your issues.” She says her study abroad experience enhanced her ability to communicate effectively, cohabitate civilly, and not fly off the handle. She ended up as a member of a well-bonded crew that shared a unique OCS experience.

After graduation, Stuchiner will be a naturalist intern at the Walking Mountain Science Center in Vail, Colo. Long-term, she will be applying to graduate school to study plant ecology.

Without their off-campus study experiences, Perret and Stuchiner might not have realized the depths of their passions or attempted to pursue them. “If I had known five years ago where I would be headed this summer,” says Perret, “I’d be ecstatic.”

Florian Perret ’15 is an anthropology major from Katonah, N.Y. and Emily Stuchiner ’15 is a biology major with a concentration in environmental studies from New York, N.Y.

Earth Month Events

Grinnell College will host a series of events throughout April and early May in celebration of Earth Month. The free, public events will be focused on local food, volunteering and exploration.

The events will take place throughout the city, with a focus toward "getting rooted in the community." Featured events include storm drain labeling on Saturday, April 19, monarch butterfly waystation planting on Tuesday, April 21, and a workshop on permaculture on Saturday, April 25.

Some events will take place at the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA), including a woodland wildflower hikes, bird banding and prescribed prairie burns. Free transportation is provided from Grinnell's campus to these events.

For details, including a complete schedule of events and information about free transportation, please visit the CERA Facebook page.

China’s Second Continent

Howard French, associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, will lecture on the topic of his new book China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa.

The free public lecture is at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 15, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

French has a distinguished career in journalism. After working as a French-English translator and English teacher at the University of Ivory Coast, French was a freelance reporter for the Washington Post. He was hired by The New York Times in 1986, and served as bureau chief for various regions overseas.

A noted writer on global affairs, French has received two Overseas Press Club Awards. In addition, the Guardian named China’s Second Continent one of the best books of 2014.

Grinnell welcomes and encourages the participation of people with disabilities. The Rosenfield Center has accessible parking in the lot on the east side of the building. Room 101 is equipped with an induction hearing loop system. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

The Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations and Human Rights, global development studies, environmental studies, and African and Caribbean Students Union are sponsoring the event.

Choose Your Own

Are you ready to shape your own learning? The individually advised curriculum at Grinnell College puts you in charge.

There’s only one required course outside of your major, the First-Year Tutorial. So each semester you’ll have 16­–18 credits for exploring the academic world.

Regardless of the courses you choose, you’ll learn how to think critically, to communicate well orally and in writing, and to work collaboratively with a diverse group of people.

You’ll have a guide for your academic explorations. Your First-Year Tutorial professor will also serve as your academic adviser until you declare a major.

Finding Unexpected Interests

One of the main reasons Emma Lingle ’18 chose Grinnell was because of its open curriculum. “It gives you time to figure out what you want to do,” she says. During her first semester, fall 2014, she took courses in anthropology, environmental systems science, French, and her tutorial, A History of Food in the United States.

Anthropology was a new subject for Lingle and she thoroughly enjoyed it. “I love the idea of learning about different cultures,” she says, “and because I love to travel so much I like the idea of knowing the origins of so many people’s ways of life.”

So when it came time to register for spring classes, another anthro class was at the top of her list. Lingle’s adviser, Assistant Professor of History Al Lacson, says, “I am thrilled when students identify an unexpected intellectual interest.”

He likes to ask students why they find a particular academic discipline interesting. “It’s important for their growth to think about the kind of questions and issues that matter most to them,” he says.

Lingle also appreciates Grinnell’s reputation in the sciences. To flesh out her technical side this spring, after going light on it last fall, she’s taking chemistry and intro to statistics. “College isn’t the time where you close off your possibilities for the future. College is something that should open you up to all the possibilities,” she says.

Lingle says, “A lot of my friends knew what they wanted to do already, at the end of our first semester.” That can be intimidating for students like Lingle, who is still exploring. But she found reassurance from Lacson.  

“There’s a reason students don’t need to formally choose a major until their second year,” he says. “The point of college is to help students figure out their interests — not just service interests that were developed as high school students. College years provide students with an opportunity to determine the kind of public and private self that they want to fashion for themselves.”

Designing Your Own Major

Students who don’t identify a major quickly may also find reassurance in the story of Amul Gyawali ’15. An international student from Katmandu, Nepal, Gyawali chose Grinnell because he wanted the option of taking classes in any department he might find interesting. He says, “You have the opportunity of developing a side interest. Academically that helps you. You end up getting a well-rounded education.”

One class that especially shaped Gyawali’s direction was History of the Modern Middle East with Caleb Elfenbein, assistant professor of history and of religious studies. “The class opened my eyes,” Gyawali says. “It made me realize how important the colonial legacies still are in the region and how interested I was in the subject.”

Gyawali was so interested that he developed an independent major in colonial and post-colonial studies with Elfenbein and Shuchi Kapila, professor of English, as his advisers. “Grinnell’s open curriculum helps you take ownership of your education,” Gyawali says. “At the same time, you’re working very closely with your advisers. The adviser-student relationship is what makes it all work.”

Gyawali adds that the professors have the highest degrees in their field — they know their stuff. “They also work hard to get to know you — your personal interests and your academic interests,” he says. “So when they give you personal, well-crafted advice for your sake, it makes it a little bit more comforting.”

Whether you pursue an established major or craft your own, the individually advised curriculum puts you and your intellectual needs and desires at the center.

Emma Lingle ’18 is from Webster Groves, Mo. Amul Gyawali ’15 is from Katmandu, Nepal.

Rewards of Research

“It’s really valuable to do research outside of your classroom lab,” says Emily Stuchiner ’15, a biology major with a concentration in environmental studies. She worked on a research project at Columbia University in New York. “If you’re an aspiring biologist or scientist, this is the springboard for what your future endeavors could look like.”

With funding provided by the College, a half-dozen Grinnell students worked in labs across the country. The internships allow them to gain expertise in their chosen fields and expand their career options.

Research in a Lab at Iowa State University

Queenster Nartey ’16 in the labQueenster Nartey ’16, a biological chemistry major, developed an app that will allow Type 2 diabetics to learn how certain changes to their diet or exercise could affect their blood glucose levels. Nartey designed the app’s user interface and wrote its computer code at Iowa State University’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

“Studies have shown that people are more likely to take more action when they see immediate results,” she says. “By having this hypothetical case of what their blood glucose could have been if they altered these activities, they would be more likely to change those behaviors.”

Research in New York’s Black Rock Forest

As Stuchiner meandered through the picturesque Black Rock Forest in Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, N.Y., she carried a bag filled with the scientific equipment she used to collect air and leaf litter samples. Back in Columbia’s lab, she analyzed the materials. During her 10-week research project, she studied how oak disease affects the forest’s tree species.

“I’ve definitely learned what a long-term science project is like. This is the longest science project I’ve worked on,” she says. “It’s really exciting to see it all come together.”

Value of Off-campus Research

The projects have both students considering professional degrees.

Nartey says her research has bolstered her confidence, critical thinking skills, and problem-solving skills.

“It’s making me strongly consider medical research as a possibility that blends both doing research and studying something important to the medical field,” she says.  

Stuchiner has learned how to conduct a well-run experiment, the benefits of a well-funded lab, and experienced some surprises, she says.

“What’s really surprising is how utterly and thoroughly exhausting fieldwork is,” she says. “You really need to love what you’re doing.”

Both students agree their summer research projects will enhance their classroom experience.

“This opportunity has given me the extra drive and motivation I need to focus on successfully completing the next two years of my Grinnell education,” says Nartey.

Emily Stuchiner ’15, a biology major with a concentration in environmental studies, is from New York. Queenster Nartey ’16, a biological chemistry major, is from Chicago.

Normalized Violence

For the first 15 years of her life, Rae Sikora ate meat with impunity.

“I was eating it every day,” says the activist and ethical vegan. “I never connected the dots.”

Everything changed 43 years ago during an exchange with a clerk at a leather store. That day changed the animal lover forever.

Since then, Sikora has traveled the world advocating for animal protection, human rights, and environmental preservation, and trained others.

Her speech, “Normalized Violence: The Global Impact of our Daily Choices,” will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 30 in the Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302.

“I help people clarify who and what they care about and assist them with bringing their daily choices into alignment with their values — regardless of what society is telling them,” Sikora says.

Sarina Farb ’16, a biological chemistry major with a concentration in policy studies, met Sikora at Vegetarian Summerfest, and has known the activist for years. Farb says Sikora’s messages fit in with Grinnell’s emphasis on social justice, self-governance, and personal responsibility.

“This approach to social justice is the essence of Rae's works. However she deepens this by shedding light on the normalized violence in our every day lives which is inconsistent with the compassion and non-violence that we all embrace,” Farb says. “Listening to Rae will inspire and empower individuals that care about creating a more just world to take the next step and extend notions of non-discrimination beyond our own species.”

Sikora is co-founder of the Institute for Humane Education, co-founder of Vegfund, and co-founder and director of Plant Peace Daily. She conducts workshops on ethical consumerism.

Sikora describes her work as helping people create a non-violent society.

“Nobody thinks about the violence toward another species or that the way we’re treating the planet is violence.”

Most recently, Sikora designed a curriculum for non-violent humane education in the Middle East that has now been translated into Arabic, Hebrew, and Spanish, and is being taught in Egypt.

“We each as individuals have so much power to create a compassionate world, and I don’t think we see that power,” Sikora says.

The event is sponsored by Advancing Animal Compassion Together (AACT), Anti-Oppression Peer Education Network (OPEN), and the Environmental Studies Concentration.


Sarina Farb ’16, a biochemistry major with a concentration in policy studies, is from Lawrence, Kan. 

A More Sustainable Grinnell

Keeping track of nearly twenty local environmental groups can be difficult for the sustainability-minded student.

The student-led A More Sustainable Grinnell conference is designed to help.

The conference will provide information about the environmental history of the College, our sustainability plan, the dining hall and Real Food Challenge, and several different environmental groups.

The campus sustainability conference will be held at 1–3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in Main Quad.  The event is free and open to all Grinnellians, including college and community members. Participating groups will be providing potluck-style snacks.

The organizers, Stephanie Porter ’14 and Carissa Shoemaker ’14, say they are trying to bring “order, cooperation, and cohesion to the environmental groups on campus.” They’ve lined up speakers and invited environmental campus groups to give a quick overview of their project and prospects.

Highlights include:

  • Chris Bair ’97, environmental and safety coordinator, will present the environmental history of the College, including what Grinnell's been working on, what's been tried, and what's feasible. 
  • Liz Queathem, senior lecturer in biology, will talk about the Sustainability Plan — what it is, who's been working on it, and what it involves. 
  • Porter and Shoemaker will present the dining hall's perspective, followed by Madeline Warnick ’16, a student evaluating Grinnell as a part of the Real Food Challenge. 
  • Campus environmental groups will present on their projects and plans.

Community organizations, including representatives from Imagine Grinnell and Poweshiek CARES, are also invited to participate.

“At the end,” says Porter, “we will break into action groups on energy, water, food, and waste to come up with concrete steps for the future.” 

For more information, email [shoemake] or [porterst].