Alumni College 2020

We are currently meeting with faculty members, and exploring the theme of what it means to be a human / member of a society or community. We will update the website as faculty members are confirmed and the theme is solidified. In the meantime, please explore offerings from previous alumni college sessions by scrolling down the page. If you would like to submit ideas for future Alumni Colleges, please send us an email, or if you have specific questions, contact Sarah Smith-Benanti,


Previous Alumni College Topics

Alumni College 2019

Newbery Honor winning, American author, Jacqueline Woodson said, “Diversity is about all of us, and about us having to figure out how to walk through this world together.”

In August of 2018, Grinnell College launched its comprehensive Diversity and Inclusion Plan. At Alumni College 2019, participants had the opportunity to take a deep dive into some of the research being generated by our own Grinnell College faculty and study the issues that affect our students, our communities, and our lives. The group focused on connecting with others, learning from each other’s stories, and understanding what it means to truly celebrate diversity. Participants were able to walk away empowered with new knowledge and awareness of these important topics.

Alumni College 2019 Faculty

Leah Allen, assistant professor of gender, women's and sexuality studies
Xavier Escandell, associate professor of anthropology
John Garrison, associate professor of english
Leslie Gregg-Jolly, interim chief diversity officer; professor of biology
Stephanie Jones, assistant professor of education
Kelly Maynard, associate professor of history
Wayne Moyer, professor of political science; rosenfield professor
Gemma Sala, associate professor of political science

Alumni College 2018

Lectures and seminars offered at Alumni College 2018 examined the problem that is truth. We explored the meaning of truth and how it has evolved and changed. And we looked at how truth can be defined in multiple ways and what that means for our lives now and in our future.

Alumni College 2018 Faculty

Dustin Dixon, assistant professor of classics
Harold Kasimow,
professor emeritus of religious studies
Daniel P. Reynolds,
professor of German, Seth Richards Professor in Modern Languages
Lakesia Johnson,
associate professor of gender, women’s and sexuality studies, assistant vice president & chief diversity officer
Karla Erickson, professor of sociology
Sam Rebelsky,
professor of computer Science
John Fennell,
associate professor of philosophy

Alumni College 2017

The outcomes of recent elections illustrate there is an intense difference of opinion on many critical issues facing our country. The way we use language, the way we view and interpret data, and even the way we call ourselves to action can seem worlds apart. Are these differences irreconcilable? How did we get here and where do we go from here? How can we be hopeful and rise above these differences? Alumni College 2017 took a deeper dive into these questions and sought to find answers that create understanding, empower and educate, helped us realize empathy for the “other,” and searched for ways we can bridge the gap.

Alumni College 2017 Faculty

George Drake '56,  president emeritus of the College and professor emeritus of history
William D. Ferguson '75, Gertrude B. Austin Professor of economics
Douglas Hess '91, assistant professor of political science
Barbara A. Trish, professor of political science
Johanna Solomon, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Peace Studies

Alumni College 2016

Food sustains us, it binds us to each other, it provides a foundation for us culturally and intellectually.

Alumni came back to Grinnell and examined food like they probably never had before. They explored food as culture, food as ritual, food as choice. Along the way, they looked with new eyes on the decisions made about food, the way other cultures use food to sustain and identify, and the way our food, and our interaction with it, is changing and evolving.

Alumni College 2016 Faculty

Mark Levandoski, professor of chemistry
Todd Armstrong, professor of Russian
Leslie Lyons, professor of chemistry
Mark Laver, assistant professor of music