Social Responsibility

From the beginning, our commitment to social responsibility has been a large part of our College history.  Grinnell was a center for abolitionist activity before and during the Civil War. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Grinnell alumni to positions in his "New Deal" administration. 

Today, our commitment to social justice continues with the strong philosophy of self-governance and personal responsibility, as well as programs and initiatives that encourage students to learn about the world beyond campus and to create positive social change.

For example

  • Our Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize honors individuals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and who show creativity, commitment, and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change.
  • The Social Justice Action Group works towards peace, justice, and positive social change with efforts that fight hunger, promote volunteerism, and build understanding.
  • The Wall Alumni Service awards provide financial support for alumni dedicated to improving lives of others.
  • Under Grinnell’s Expanding Knowledge Initiative, the College has introduced curricular innovations in the areas of environmental challenges, human rights, and human dignity. 
  • Our decades old Grinnell Corps program puts recent graduates to work helping in the local community as well as communities throughout the world.
  • The Liberal Arts in Prison Program, a collaborative effort by Grinnell students, faculty, and staff, engages incarcerated adults in courses in the liberal arts.

In addition, we provide grants and other support to local groups, students, faculty, and staff, including extensive support  for service learning and volunteering.

Our students and alumni are just as serious, founding and running several organizations dedicated to service and social and ecological justice.


New Time! Mary Kathryn Nagle's Scholars’ Convocation Lecture will begin at noon on Thursday, April 19.

The themes of poverty, school choice, and social justice at the heart of the speakers' messages affect educators, students, and families across the country.
The Office of Social Commitment empowers Grinnellians to prepare "to serve the common good."
Community service
The community service program collaborates with more than 80 different non-profit, direct service community partners.