Knowledge into Action

As I meet Grinnell alumni, I am continually impressed with the ways that Grinnellians live their lives with intention. Often it is evident in their brilliant and varied careers, but it can also be in things they do outside of work, in their communities, as professors and teachers, as artists, writers, and creatives, or as participants in national and international conversations about important issues impacting society. In doing so, they embody the core themes of Grinnell College’s strategic plan, Knowledge into Action. Approved by the Board of Trustees in October 2023, Knowledge into Action and its four themes will guide the College’s work over the next seven years to strengthen collaboration and discovery for positive change, both in the institution and the world it shapes. You can read more about the plan both in this issue of The Grinnell Magazine and at

In this issue, you’ll read more about how Grinnellians shape the world, specifically recipients of the Joseph F. Wall ’41 Alumni Service Awards. They have been selected by their fellow alumni, including previous recipients, a student representative, and faculty members, through a competitive process that awards the $40,000 prizes to either jump-start or complete a project that shows creativity and commitment to effecting positive social change. I am excited to learn more about past award winners and encourage you to learn about the 2023 recipients more in-depth at Each of these projects exhibits creativity, community building, equity, and civic engagement in ways that are both deeply personal to each alum and shaped by their experience at Grinnell College. Each has impact that carries forward Grinnell’s legacy, sometimes in surprising ways.

The charge to “Go Forth Grinnellian” begins with the premise that each graduate spends part of their formative years here in the middle of everywhere – surrounded by a natural environment that may be very different from what they’re accustomed to at home. Grinnell’s Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA) is a place where students, faculty, and community members come face to face with the prairie. It offers summer conservation internships, is a wellspring of environmental science data, provides a hands-on outdoor classroom, rich research resources and a place for recreation and to be in nature. In addition to strong connection with Grinnell’s nationally recognized interdisciplinary Center for Prairie Studies, CERA inspires writers and artists, conversations about geology and chemistry, and interdisciplinary and innovative discovery and interrogation of human interaction with the environment.

I hope to see you here in Grinnell, at Reunion, or in my travels to hear your stories of knowledge into action. Your example and support inspire today’s students and helps us build a vibrant alumni community.

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