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

Virtual Alumni College

You are invited to participate in the inaugural Virtual Alumni College, a new, lifelong, learning experience.

Similarly to the annual Alumni College held before Reunion, Grinnell’s faculty will showcase their excellent teaching and scholarship during a time when the value of a residential liberal arts experience is being questioned worldwide.

Grinnell College has faced many challenging circumstances this year (abruptly shifting to online learning in the spring, uncertainty about fall plans, teaching during a summer term for the first time, and figuring out how the pandemic will affect research plans). Through all of this we Grinnellians have wanted to stay connected.

Once you register for each free lecture, The Office of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) will send you a link to the pre-recorded lectures that can be viewed at any time. You may register for as many lectures as you wish. When you register for each lecture, you will be entered into a lottery to participate in a post-lecture discussion with the faculty member. The date and time you see listed below is for the discussion. If you receive a lottery slot, an email with a link to the virtual discussion with be sent to you. If you do not receive a lottery slot, you will also be notified via email.

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, smithben@grinnell.edu.

2020 Virtual Alumni College Lectures

The Struggle for Gay Rights Before Stonewall

Discussion Date: Noon CT, Thursday, July 30
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. The discussion for this lecture occurred on July 30, 2020. 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 Confederate Flag: Contextualizing White Supremacy

Discussion Date: 1 p.m. CT, Friday, July 31
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. The discussion for this lecture occurred on July 31, 2020. 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

Discussion Date: 3 p.m. CT,  Thursday, Aug. 6
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

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

Discussion Date: 11 a.m. CT,  Monday, Aug. 10
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

The Heart of Heartbreak: Personal and Political Exhaustion in James' Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues"

Discussion Date: TBD
Faculty Member: Dean Bakopoulos

This lecture explores the way political oppression morphs into emotional oppression by looking at James Baldwin's  classic story "Sonny's Blues,"

Learn more about Dean Bakopoulos and see a full description of the lecture on the The Heart of Heartbreak registration page (coming soon). 

Messy Humans: The Social Life of Machines

Discussion Date: TBD
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 (coming soon). 

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

Discussion Date: TBD
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 (coming soon). 

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

Discussion Date: TBD
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 (coming soon). 

Jazz Works: Making Money Making Music in 1970s Toronto

Discussion Date: TBD
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 (coming soon). 

Lessons for Humanity from a Black Lives Matter Lens

Discussion Date: TBD
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 (coming soon). 

What is Writing For?

Discussion Date: TBD
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 (coming soon). 

Movement, Feeling, Who We Are

Discussion Date: TBD
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 (coming soon).