Jonathan Andelson
Curriculum Vitae

Jonathan Andelson

Professor Senior Faculty

Rosenfeld Professor in Social Science

Offices, Departments, or Centers: Anthropology , Environmental Studies , Center for Prairie Studies ,

Jonathan Andelson was born in Chicago and earned a B.A. from Grinnell in 1970 and a doctorate in anthropology at the University of Michigan in 1974. His main interests are intentional communities, religion, agriculture, and human-environment interactions.  His principal field research, on the Amana Colonies of Iowa, has resulted in numerous publications, the most recent being "'The Community' and 'the World: Place-making and Re-making in Amana," published in Communal Societies 41:1 & 2 (2021). He is past president and currently a board member of the Communal Studies Association and former book review editor of the journal Communal Societies. He is currently (fall 2023) working on an essay, "Why Are the Meskwaki in Iowa?", with Johnathan Buffalo, the Meskwaki tribal historian.

In 1999 Jon co-founded the college’s interdisciplinary Center for Prairie Studies and served as its director until 2022. The Prairie Studies position led to more contacts with faculty across the college and with a variety of community groups in and around Grinnell. Jon is centrally involved in two major projects of the Center for Prairie Studies. He serves as publisher of the Center's online journal, Rootstalk: A Prairie Journal of Culture, Science, and the Arts (, which is created through the efforts of a class ("Digital Journal Publishing") that Jon co-teaches every spring semester. Jon also serves as supervisor of the Grinnell College Garden, located behind 1128 East Street. Student workers during the academic year and summer maintain the garden, which in each of the last three years has produced about 1,800 pounds of produce that is delivered to Grinnell College Dining and Mi-Iowa Community Action (MICA) for its food pantry.

In 2000, Jon co-founded the Grinnell Area Local Foods Alliance (GALFA), an organization that promotes the use of locally produced food by individuals and institutions in Grinnell. He is currently a board member of Poweshiek CARES (Community Action to Restore Environmental Stewardship), a grassroots organization dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture and in particular to seeking a moratorium on Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Iowa. Jon has tried his hand at writing for general audiences. He writes the Publisher's Note for every issue of Rootstalk. In addition, his essay “Changing Heroes” first appeared in the Fall 2008 issue of The Land Report, published by The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, and "Crosby's Footprint," which profiles the walking habit and carbon footprint of a Grinnell resident, was published in Number 16 of the Wapsipinicon Almanac, 2010. An extended essay, “The Evanescent Iowa Prairie: When, How, Why, and What Next?” appeared in the Center’s publication series in 2016.

Jon and his wife, Karin Stein '82, have three daughters, two of whom graduated from Grinnell and the third from Macalester. They live eight miles from Grinnell at Rock Creek Lake in Jasper County, where he enjoys canoeing, kayaking, birding, and lazy nature walks.

Education and Degrees

B.A. from Grinnell College, 1970

PhD in anthropology University of Michigan 1974

In the News

Sustainability in Action 

All Things Grinnell Podcast - Season 1 Episode 6

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