Global Grinnell: Altering perspectives, overturning assumptions

At Grinnell, an informed global mindset is a matter of course. Grinnellians travel the world not to examine other cultures from a distance, but to reconsider their own most basic assumptions. Over 50 percent of Grinnellians study abroad, often more than once. Approximately 15 percent of our students are international, making Grinnell a truly global society on the prairie. And more Grinnellians design individualized majors focused on international studies than on any other field.

Future Grinnellians will be more likely than their predecessors to live outside the United States, work with or for foreign companies, or collaborate with foreign governments, multinational enterprises, and globally oriented nongovernmental organizations and foundations. Global concerns — from renewable energy to climate change, food security, human migration, public health, economic development, ethnic and religious conflict, and warfare — will affect their lives in unprecedented ways.

So how do we incisively prepare Grinnellians for their global future?

Grinnell’s global history already provides us with tremendous advantages: a highly international student body and campus culture; a respected Center for International Studies; popular concentrations in area studies and Global Development Studies; rigorous language programs; a vital culture of off-campus study; a growing array of international internships (many alumni-hosted); an array of internationally-focused courses; and dynamic co-curricular programming.


A new experience gives you a chance to try some different lifestyles. Planning like I used to didn’t really work in Korea, so I had to change the way I operate. I felt more relaxed and outgoing there. I really enjoyed the change!

Trang Nguyen ’17
Major: mathematics
Off-campus study: South Korea, spring 2016
Hometown: Hanoi, Vietnam


Through Global Grinnell, students pursue distinctive international learning ventures, such as:

  • Course-embedded travel. On many a Grinnell course syllabus, you’ll find international travel alongside books, articles, films, and lab research. Economics students have traveled to South Korea to study that country’s economic development; biology students have investigated desert ecology in Namibia; and physics students have examined bridges and towers in the UK — to name just a few examples.
  • Alternate Language Study Option (ALSO). The ALSO program enables students to travel abroad to study languages that the regular curriculum doesn’t offer. The program provides two semesters of beginning-level, self-instructional study in a variety of languages, including Italian, Portuguese, Korean, Hindi, Czech, and Kiswahili.
  • Global Learning Program. Established through generous gifts from Susan McCurry ’71 and the Roland and Ruby Holden Foundation, this newly launched program offers first-year students a comprehensive, carefully calibrated set of international learning experiences across disciplinary boundaries — placing Grinnell firmly at the forefront of global education.
  • Global Development Studies Concentration. Students can design a GDS concentration that explores strategies for addressing global problems and the social and environmental implications of development. As part of their program, students undertake independent research or internships in or concerning a developing country.

Your gift to Global Grinnell empowers today’s students to engage the world the Grinnell way — bravely, humbly, compassionately, and creatively — as we continue to fully integrate global programming into every facet of our students’ journey. By expanding students’ access to an increasingly wide range of global experiences, you ensure they graduate with an exceptional global aptitude, preparing them not only to thrive in a world that’s more connected than ever, but to shape it.

Globe Illistration

Global Grinnell means…

  • Analyzing economic development in South Korea through course-embedded travel
  • Immersing in British theater, politics, and history through Grinnell-in-London
  • Researching biodiversity in China through the Global Development Studies concentration
  • Learning Arabic in Jordan through an off-campus study program
  • … and an almost endless list of other possibilities.

To support Global Grinnell, or to learn more, call 866.850.1846, or email giving@grinnell.edu.