Red Text on a gray background. Text: Virtual Alumni College. Grinnell College logo in the upper left of the image.

Virtual Alumni College

Virtual Alumni College is a lifelong, learning experience that allows Grinnellians to stay connected. For the spring of 2021, six of Grinnell’s faculty will showcase their excellent teaching and scholarship by having recorded 30-minute lectures for alumni to view once you have registered. Virtual Alumni College is an immersive, “return to the classroom” experience. It provides the chance for participants to re-experience the intellectual stimulation of the classroom with Grinnell College faculty members and fellow alumni.

DAR will release two lectures in the months of March, April, and May, and one discussion session for each pre-recorded lecture will be held the same month that the lecture is released. You will be able to register to watch the available lectures and register for the corresponding virtual discussion session.

Virtual Alumni College Spring 2021 Registration

Registration for lectures

An unlimited number of alumni may register to watch each pre-recorded lecture. Once you fill out the registration form, you will be sent a confirmation email that contains the URL for the pre-recorded lecture that you can watch at any time.

Pre-recorded lectures should be viewed before attending a discussion session, so that you are able to formulate questions and engage in the discussion with the faculty member and fellow alumni.

If you only want to watch the lecture, choose “view lecture only” on the registration form.

If you want to watch the lecture and participate in the discussion session, choose “view lecture and join discussion” on the registration form.

Registration for discussion sessions

An hour discussion session will be held for each pre-recorded lecture. Discussion sessions are not recorded. You should only sign up for a discussion session if you are available at the posted date and time listed below. If more than 50 alumni register, a lottery will be held and a waitlist created. DAR limits the amount of alumni who can participate in an online discussion because this allows for more intimate conversation. It also allows for all voices that want to be heard to be included in the discussion.

Discussion sessions are facilitated by a DAR staff member and lead by the faculty member who gave the lecture.

Virtual Alumni College Spring 2021 Lectures

What's So Great About Beethoven's Fifth?

Although in popular culture, it might suffer from perception as a classical music cliché, is it possible that Beethoven's Fifth Symphony is actually as good as they say it is?

Faculty Member: Eric McIntyre
Discussion Date: March 19, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. CT

Learn more about professor Eric McIntyre and see a full description of the lecture on the What's So Great about Beethoven's Fifth registration page. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

What Grinnell and its students taught me over my 40 years at Grinnell College

This presentation is about what I learned and how our teams became successful. It’s about psychology, training design, and pedagogy, and Grinnell teaching me what really mattered.

Faculty Member: Will Freeman
Discussion Date: March 24, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. CT

Learn more about professor Will Freeman and see a full description of the lecture on the My 40 years at Grinnell College registration page. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

Decolonizing Museums, Repatriating Collections

The modern museum is a product of colonial Western cultures. Contemporary museums are reckoning with practices that are less than equitable, and facing calls to return, share, and rethink collections. The Grinnell College Museum of Art is not immune to these significant shifts in museum practice. 

Faculty Member: Lesley Wright
Discussion Date: April 14, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. CT or April 15, 2021 at 1 p.m

Learn more about Director Lesley Wright and see a full description of the lecture on the Decolonizing Museums, Repatriating Collections registration page. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

Music, Difference, Empathy, and Africa (i.e., Zimbabwe)

Like the legacies of the banjo, or yoga, or a number of other examples, what are the consequences of consuming and performing difference through music. Does empathy have a dark side?

Faculty Member: Tony Perman
Discussion Date: April 19, 2021 at 11:30 a.m.

Learn more about Professor Tony Perman and see a full description of the lecture on the Music, Difference, Empathy, and Africa (i.e., Zimbabwe) registration page. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

Fragility and Conflict-Affected States

As we consider the United States in its current state of social and political fragility, what are the parallels with other countries affected by conflict? The label "fragile and conflict-affected state" is typically reserved for countries where governance is viewed by outsiders as hopelessly corrupt and politics are practiced in ways that most Americans would not recognize.

Faculty Member: Leif Brottem
Discussion Date: April 29, 2021 at 1 p.m.

Learn more about Professor Leif Brottem and see a full description of the lecture on the Fragility and Conflict-Affected States registration page. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

Other Upcoming Virtual Alumni College Spring 2021 Lectures 

Johanna Meehan (participated in fall of 2020) McCay-Casady Professor of Humanities, will present Intersubjectivity: Love , Loss and The Self. What is a self and how is it formed? What role does love, loss, trauma, and resilience play in making us who we are?

Elliot Ratzman, visiting assistant professor of religious studies, will present Race and the Bible: Exploring the Context and Afterlife of Troublesome Holy Texts. Are the British the "lost tribes of Israel"? Does the Bible condemn interracial marriage? Is there "racism" in the ancient world? In the Americas, South Africa, and elsewhere the Bible has been used as a tool of oppression to justify slavery, colonialism, and massacre but also as a tool for the fight for justice and racial equality. In this pre-recorded lecture, Dr. Ratzman explores some of the obscure Biblical episodes that were mobilized over the centuries to underwrite racism, slavery, and colonialism. By understanding the original contexts and their modern interpretations, we can see how holy texts play a role in justifying – and combatting – racism and injustice.

Virtual Alumni College Summer 2020 Lectures

The Confederate Flag: Contextualizing White Supremacy

Faculty Member: Sarah Purcell

Learn the historical context of the confederate flag to help you make sense of today's flag debates.

Learn more about Sarah Purcell and see a full description of the lecture on the The Confederate Flag registration page. You are still able to watch the lecture by registering. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

"Everything in the Future is Black: An Introduction to Afrofuturism"

Faculty Member: Makeba Lavan

This lecture will guide listeners through the basic tenets and purposes of Afrofuturism.

Learn more about Makeba Lavan and see a full description of the lecture on the Everything in the Future is Black registration page. You are still able to watch the lecture by registering. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

The Indispensable Grinnellian: Joe Rosenfield and Grinnell’s Trajectory from Salvation to Excellence

Faculty Member: George Drake

In this lecture, George Drake will discuss his biography of Joe Rosenfield ’25, Mentor.

Learn more about George Drake and see a full description of the lecture on the The Indispensable Grinnellian registration page. You are still able to watch the lecture by registering. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

Jazz Works: Making Money Making Music in 1970s Toronto

Faculty Member: Mark Laver

This talk will share stories of the music scene in 1970s Toronto: a time and a place where the music business was booming, where people moved from bigger cities and left other careers to get on board.

Learn more about Mark Laver and see a full description of the lecture on the Jazz Works registration page. You are still able to watch the lecture by registering. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

Lessons for Humanity from a Black Lives Matter Lens

Faculty Member: Kesho Scott

In this lecture, you will learn about the Black Lives Matter framework and get answers to seven essential questions. You will leave with more questions but feel good about your newly acquired knowledge.

Learn more about Kesho Scott and see a full description of the lecture on the Lessons for Humanity from a Black Lives Matter Lens registration page. You are still able to watch the lecture by registering. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

Messy Humans: The Social Life of Machines

Faculty Member: Karla Erickson

As a labor ethnographer trained in American Studies, Sociology and Feminist Studies, Erickson and her research team have developed a method for investigating present-day technologies to develop a sociology of machine/human interaction. Please join us as we use the machines of today to think of possible futures.

Learn more about Karla Erickson and see a full description of the lecture on the Messy Humans registration page. You are still able to watch the lecture by registering. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

Movement, Feeling, Who We Are

Faculty Member: Liz Queathem

In this lecture, you will learn how movement is both a physical action that takes an organism from one place to another, and a metaphor for progress. Come prepared to watch, learn, and do the hokey-pokey.

Learn more about Liz Queathem and see a full description of the lecture on the Movement, Feeling, Who We Are registration page. You are still able to watch the lecture by registering. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

The Pandemic as a Complex Collective-Action Problem: Contagion, Recession, Political Decay, and Inequality

Faculty Member: Bill Ferguson

This lecture will address several political and economic dimensions of this global pandemic, using the notion of collective-action problems as an analytical framework.

Learn more about Bill Ferguson and see a full description of the lecture on the The Pandemic as a Complex Collective-Action Problem registration page. You are still able to watch the lecture by registering. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

The Struggle for Gay Rights Before Stonewall

Faculty Member: Javier Samper Vendrell

This lecture proposes that homoerotic magazines played a crucial role in the homosexual rights movement during the Weimar Republic (1918–1933).

Learn more about Javier Samper Vendrell and see a full description of the lecture on the The Struggle for Gay Rights Before Stonewall registration page. You are still able to watch the lecture by registering. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

To Mask or Not to Mask: Why is There a Question?

Faculty Member: Johanna Meehan

In this lecture, we will examine the answers to critical questions that have a very significant impact on how we understand dependence and independence, and ultimately on how we understand human dependence and independence.

Learn more about Johanna Meehan and see a full description of the lecture on the To Mask or Not to Mask registration page. You are still able to watch the lecture by registering. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.

What is Writing For?

Faculty Member: Tisha Turk

This lecture explains some of the limits of defining writing as a skill, offers alternative ways of understanding what writing is and how it works, and explains why embracing these alternative understandings can help us become better writers.

Learn more about Tisha Turk and see a full description of the lecture on the What is Writing For? registration page. You are still able to watch the lecture by registering. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.