Learning and inquiry through global connections and engagement.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Chilean Mathematician, Dr. Anita Rojas, spends Spring 2015 at Grinnell as the International Heath Professor

Dr. Anita Rojas, Chilean Mathematician, hosted by Jennifer Paulhus, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, came for the spring semester, 2015 as the John R. Heath Professor. Endowed in honor of John Reardon Heath, Grinnell Class of 1919, who was an active member and President of the Grinnell Board of Trustees and gave steadfast support to Grinnell’s long and continuing engagement with the world, the Heath Professorship brings to Grinnell College the most distinguished international figures for a semester-length stay. 

The mathematics and statistics department was thrilled to have the opportunity to host Dr. Rojas from Universidad de Chile for the Spring of 2015. She taught two courses for the department:  MAT-295: "Cryptography/Coding Theory" and  MAT-395: "Representation Theory." Both went well and in the End-of-Course evaluations, students spoke well of each of them. 

The "Representation Theory" course replaced another course normally taught for majors. Students were very happy with the opportunity to learn material not usually present (due to schedule constraints and personnel expertise).  The 200-level course gave both lower level majors, as well some students who enjoy math but do not plan to major in it, an opportunity to take a course with an expert and again learn material the department is unable to teach due to schedule constraints.   

Dr. Rojas gave two talks while here.  The first was a campus presentation entitled “A View of Chile Through a Mathematician’s Eyes” and the second was a talk to the department called “Representation theory and abelian varieties with symmetries".  She also attended one of Eliza Willis' classes to discuss the student protest movements in Chile.  Her husband, Geir da Silva, had the unique opportunity to display his photographs from those student protests at the Grinnell Arts Council.  This was such a special and serendipitous event, not just for them, but for the Grinnell community.

Dr. Rojas came to Grinnell for the semester with her husband and her two daughters, Lia (15) and Tié (4). She and her husband went to Spanish table almost every week and met many students and faculty not affiliated with the math/stats department.  She also had a series of “play dates” with her younger daughter which gave other faculty a chance to meet her and learn more about Chile (and mathematics!). Faculty that she and her family had regular interactions with include:  Michael Gunther, Cynthia Hansen, Heriberto Hernandez, Matt Johnson, Martin Minelli, Cori Ortiz, Elizabeth Prevost, Sara Sanders, and Pablo Silva. 

Her connections with Grinnell students and faulty, as well as her time in the Grinnell community, truly modeled an ideal John R. Heath Professorship. Currently, Dr. Manuel Gadella, Spanish Physicist, hosted by Sujeev Wickramasekara, Associate Professor of Physics, is the 2015-2016 Visiting Heath Professor. He is teaching two courses: 
  • PHY 295-01 Special Topic: Mathematical Methods of Physics. An introduction to several mathematical techniques used in physics, including Hilbert spaces, general topological vector spaces, operator algebras, spectral theory and measure theory. Aug-27 to Dec-18.
  • PHY 395-01 Special Topic: Theory of Classical Fields. An introduction to the theory of classical fields, including calculus variations and the action principle, the Lagrangian and Halmiltonian descriptions of fields, applications to the electromagnetic fields. Aug-31 to Oct-9. 
 (Post adapted from a write-up from Jennifer  Paulhus detailing Dr. Roja's activities as the Spring '15, Heath Visiting Professor)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Heartland Global Health Consortium

Grinnell College is a member of the Heartland Global Health Consortium, an alliance of colleges and universities that promotes global health education. Member institutions are Central College, Des Moines University, Drake University, Grinnell, Iowa State University, Mercy College of Health Sciences, Simpson College, the University of Iowa, and William Penn University. 

Those interested in human health as well as faculty interested in taking students abroad or setting up service opportunities for students are encouraged to take part in the consortium. 

Visit the Heartland Global Health Consortium website for more information on meetings and conferences. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

ACM opportunities for faculty members - Shanghai

A team of 4-5 faculty from The Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) will travel to ACM's program in Shanghai, China to meet with students, the ACM Visiting Faculty Director, and East China Normal University (ECNU) faculty. The ACM faculty visitors are asked to make a formal substantive contribution to the program curriculum and to the partnership with ECNU during the visit that is relevant to the site, such as a guest lecture, workshop, or master class. 

Please visit the ACM website for additional information. 

Applications are due Sept. 4, 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

Public Talk, Wednesday September 2 at JRC 101 7:00 p.m.

                                                                                     Refreshments served

 Attaining Hard Peace, Soft Peace and Smart Peace

George A. Lopez (Grinnell College Visiting Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies; Professor, KROC Institute of International Peace Studies; former VP, United States Institute of Peace) will address current events through the lens of Peace and Conflict Studies.  

This fall Lopez is team-teaching with Timothy Dobe (ReligiousStudies) the College’s pilot course, Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies, which is made possible by a Grinnell College Innovation Fund Grant.

Lopez has served in a variety of roles at the Joan B. KrocInstitute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, where holds the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Chair in Peace Studies. He is an international expert on the problems of state violence, economic sanctions and human rights violations. One of his most recent works, “Sanctions and the Search for Security: Challenges to UN Action,” explores the dilemmas faced by the United Nations Security Council.

At the United States Institute of Peace’s Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding, Lopez worked to equip government officials and civil society organizations to be effective peacemakers.

An internationally recognized expert on peace and conflict issues across the globe, Lopez has served as adviser to various agencies and governments regarding sanctions issues, ranging from assessing humanitarian impact to the design of targeted financial sanctions. He also served on the UN Panel of Experts for monitoring and implementing UN sanctions on North Korea from 2010-11.

Lopez has commented about war and peace issues in national and international media. In addition, he is widely known for his work in developing university peace studies in the United States.

The Grinnell College Peace and Conflict Studies Program is sponsoring the Lopez lecture. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Lorena Ulloa On Her Time in Chile


             After a semester abroad in Santiago, Chile, Lorena Ulloa’s vernacular was adjusted to include Chilean slang.  With “Po!” and “Filete” included in her Facebook photo captions and in her everyday Spanish, Lorena has transformed herself to become a much more versatile Spanish speaker.  However, along with the slang words she adopted, Lorena also adopted valuable life lessons, which she now implements in her daily life at Grinnell.
            Lorena, a fourth-year, biology and Spanish double major, attributes the majority of her love for Chile to her host family, but confessed that the experience, as a whole, could never be replaced.
            “Chile, as a whole, was wonderful,” Lorena said in an interview. “My host mother, the friends who studied abroad along with me, and the friends I made in Santiago all contributed to my newfound love for Chile.”
            In Santiago, Chile, Lorena lived in Providencia, a comuna part of Greater Santiago.  A comuna, like several U.S. cities, is like an American version of a district, Ulloa said.  Providencia is ridded with plazas and parks, which Lorena took advantage of during her downtime.
             However, Lorena's Mondays through Thursdays started very early in the morning. Her love for 8 a.m. classes did not change while in Santiago.  Thus, Lorena usually woke up at 6:30 a.m. to get to class on time.  Because her classes were on the opposite side of the city of where her host mother worked, Lorena relied heavily on public transportation.
            “I remember the buses always being packed.  Sometimes the buses pulled away from the bus stops with people hanging out of the bus because it was so packed inside,” Lorena recalled with a smile.
            Weekends in Chile were longer than in the States because she didn’t have classes on Fridays. With their three-day weekends, Lorena and her friends sometimes took the opportunity to escape the city and explore the world outside of Chile.  But when she did stay in the city, Lorena spent a lot of time cultivating stronger bonds with her host mother and her extended family. 
            Her host mother indubitably changed the way Lorena perceived her world.
            “Being at Grinnell, I lost contact and became out of touch with my Latino roots,” Lorena admitted. “But my host mother taught me why I love being Latina and she taught me the value of my Latino roots.”
            But her biggest challenge was to open up to strangers.
            “Chileans are very open and warm and they want to make people feel part of the group even if someone may look or act differently than the norm,” she said. “In the beginning I felt really uncomfortable with people being too nice. I always asked myself what people’s true motives were for being nice. But my time [in Chile] really taught me to talk to people regardless of their age, but it ultimately taught me how to really develop stronger relationships with people.”
            Since her arrival, Lorena has noticed a difference in her dynamic with other Grinnellians.
            “I definitely participate a lot more in class and am much more vocal now than I was before Chile. Also, as a Grinnell Science Project (GSP) Student Assistant, I had to show some level of enthusiasm, which, at times was hard for me to explicitly show because of my [introverted nature], but I find that it was much easier than if I wouldn’t have gone to Chile,” she said.
            One of Lorena’s priorities now is to find a way to get back to Chile once she graduates from Grinnell and maybe study at the graduate-level in Chile.  But if she can’t go back to Chile, she definitely wants to give back to her community through teaching. She attributes her success thus far to her teachers and she wants to offer what other people gave to her to other people.
Lorena (right) takes a picture with her host mother (left).

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Amy Flores on Studying Abroad in Hungary

            Amy Flores, a third year at Grinnell College, is currently studying abroad in Hungary as part of the Aquincum Institute of Technology (AIT)-Budapest program, which is directed at students interested in computer science and software engineering. As more of a math person, she was intrigued by the “creativity” portion of the program, since she could take more math-focused classes at another program in Budapest while still getting an intensive look at computer science and its applications at AIT.
            Amy did not speak Hungarian before studying abroad, so, although there are many English-speakers in her program and in Budapest, learning some of the basics (hello, bye, sorry, thank you, etc.) made her feel much better. She feels uncomfortable demanding English from a study abroad experience that is not in an English-speaking country, so she uses Hungarian as much as possible. Although the courses are all in English (except for the courses in which Hungarian is taught), Amy is able to interact with native Hungarian speakers that are also in the program. So she has been able to experience the Hungarian language in a social context, even though there are English-speakers in all the touristic places.
            In addition to the difference in language, being a Latina woman from the U.S. has also played a role in her study abroad experience. She has found that she is considered a tourist in many people’s minds, given her race, as she is stopped more frequently by ticket vendors for touristic places. Sadly, she has also found that people seem to feel weird about the color of her skin “as if those that have a darker skin tone will be the ones to rob you.” In addition, she feels that many people believe Americans, especially those who can afford to travel to Hungary and stay, are educationally and financially privileged, so she has a slight sense that others think she is elitist for being American. Besides differences in language and culture, the main difference that Amy finds between the U.S. and Hungary is that there is a greater preservation of architecture and parks so that people can “sit and appreciate the beauty of Budapest.”
Although living in a foreign country has been a challenge, Amy has been adapting relatively easily, especially since her roommate is also new to the culture and language, so they have been able to adjust together. She has also had other international experiences, living in Bolivia and France as well as visiting Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Belgium, and Canada, where she visited or was traveling with family. However, given that this experience abroad is her first international experience on her own, it has posed a new challenge. Amy has learned so much with each of her international experiences and wants to be an open book during her interactions with others internationally in order to learn and give as much as possible. She has found that the skills she is acquiring to help her surpass cultural barriers will also be useful in her post-graduation plans in the U.S. as they allow her to be a more well-rounded person. Although Amy does not yet feel that she can call herself a global citizen, she is well on her way and hopes that her international experiences do not end with her study abroad program in Budapest.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Assistant Director of Off-Campus Study, Jonathan Larson, on Grinnell-in-Washington

                  Fostering the internationalization of faculty at a small liberal arts college such as Grinnell is bound to differ from how it looks at research and comprehensive universities. At Grinnell it is often done in tandem with off-campus study, thinking of how the network formed by where we send our students opens opportunities for faculty. At many institutions my office would have “study abroad” in its name, but at Grinnell we put programs from the U.S. in the same field of consideration and management as programs outside it. What are some unexpected ways in which a domestic off-campus program on which our faculty teach, such as Grinnell-in-Washington, contributes to the internationalization of the faculty as one might expect for teaching in places such as London, Tanzania, Korea, or Brazil?
                  My visit at the end of last week to Grinnell-in-Washington (GIW) offered food for thought.  To begin, it is worth thinking about how operating GIW out of an office that focuses primarily on non-U.S. programs forces Grinnell College to think of the U.S. and Grinnell within a shared field of “the international,” which breaks down how we classify programs. As one measure of how GIW has contributed to the formation of international expertise for our faculty, a surprising percentage of Grinnell faculty who have taught on GIW—by my count about 60%--have also taught on Grinnell-in-London, taught on another program abroad, or spent time doing research abroad.
Grinnell-in-Washington can serve faculty not only as a milieu par excellence for meeting other actors engaged in work of global scope, but as a laboratory for mentoring and scholarship on the Grinnell home campus. For instance, faculty can enrich their own networks and reflect on their departments’ professional mentoring of students by observing our pilot alumni mentoring program. Relatedly, while teaching the internship seminar and learning from students about how their experiences as interns are shaped by host supervisors, faculty can learn more about the increasingly important role of mediation and brokering in students’ off-campus experiences. Students, faculty, and staff at Grinnell develop international knowledge that is shaped by people who help plan our trips, arrange contacts, and summarize important issues for us. Students on a domestic internship-based program in Washington, D.C. for a single semester are subject to similar influences.