several groups of people sit in the shade of a large oak tree on North Campus

Knowledge into Action Guides Grinnell’s Future Course

By Ellen de Graffenreid

The Trustees of Grinnell College endorsed Knowledge into Action: A Strategic Plan for Grinnell College 2023-2030 at the board’s regular meeting in October 2023. The plan, designed with insight from multiple studies, campus-wide and small group discussions, individual interviews, on-campus workshops, and contributions from divisions and departments, sets a course for strategic actions and implementations for the next seven years.

“Knowledge into Action builds on Grinnell’s distinctive values and speaks to their continued relevance in a rapidly changing world,” says Michael Kahn ’74, chair of the Board of Trustees. “Its objectives focus on how Grinnell impacts individuals and prepares them to make meaningful contributions to the common good at the local, national, and global level.”

“This is truly a plan that belongs to our stakeholders. It centers how the College is experienced by students, faculty, staff, alumni, visitors, and the community. It envisions and celebrates how we ‘Go Forth’ into the world to shape it by moving knowledge into action, having been educated and inspired by a global college in a rural setting with a national voice,” says President Anne Harris.

People sit in a circle, some on the pavement and others on a short stone wallThe plan centers on four themes and twelve objectives intended to empower the College and its constituents to be catalysts for educational excellence, foster belonging and connection, work to create collective equity, and find shared goals and common ground in the College’s connection to society and the common good. The plan is undergirded by the principle of intergenerational equity and stewardship of resources to benefit both current and future Grinnellians.

Building on Grinnell’s educational excellence, Knowledge into Action will more explicitly connect teaching and learning to empower students to be agents of positive change in all fields throughout their lives. As a Catalyst for Educational Excellence, Grinnell will coordinate curricular and co-curricular experiences for students, support faculty in creating even richer learning experiences, and create opportunities for staff development in support of the mission of the College.

Belonging and Connection seeks to strengthen connections between the College and its constituents through enhanced student recruitment and support for persistence and retention. It will work to ensure that all students feel a sense of belonging, that faculty and staff members are empowered to create high-quality student experiences, and that alumni connect that experience to membership in a global Grinnell community in support of the institution after graduation.

“Knowledge into Action builds on Grinnell’s distinctive values and speaks to their continued relevance in a rapidly changing world.”

— Michael Kahn ’74

The focus on Collective Equity identifies and implements changes that foster thriving and success of individuals of all religions, those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), first generation and limited income (FGLI), as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+), or with the disability community. It seeks to change the culture of work at Grinnell by identifying ways to balance priorities and support wellness. Finally, it focuses on financial stewardship as an enabler of these changes, including reducing endowment dependency while ensuring equitable access to a Grinnell education without requiring student loans.

Kesho Scott, seated, is gesturing while speakiing to a class.Shared Goals and Common Ground capitalizes on the College’s setting and community to project the benefits of coalition building and civic engagement to amplify Grinnellians’ positive impact on campus, in the community, in American democracy, and in the global community. Through this goal, Grinnellians will address pressing issues, practice democratic modes of deliberation, and become more focused stewards of our environment.

“It is gratifying that the final plan reflects what we heard about how people experience the College and how the mission meets the moment we are in.”

— Caleb Elfenbein

“Strengthening collaboration and discovery at Grinnell and wherever Grinnellians are present will take many forms and will demand our active participation in culture change. It will require us to discuss, debate, and define issues. It will require us to think differently about how structures and processes may stand in the way of belonging and equity and to find common ground where new solutions are envisioned and created,” says President Harris.

People stand around a poster in a crowded hallCaleb Elfenbein, professor of history and religious studies and associate dean for faculty development and diversity, equity, and inclusion, co-chaired the plan development with Monica Chavez-Silva, vice president of community engagement and strategic planning.

Elfenbein says, “It is gratifying that the final plan reflects what we heard about how people experience the College and how the mission meets the moment we are in. My hope is that everyone can see how their work fits in.”

Chavez-Silva agrees. “All along, we’ve emphasized the power of collective impact, and Knowledge into Action both prioritizes and creates the conditions for more coalitions and partnerships on campus, with alumni, in the community, and beyond.”

“Today’s students are inquisitive, inspiring, and focused on their contributions to positive change. They go forth to become alumni who move knowledge into action in their own lives and communities on multiple scales. Through this plan, we will strengthen collaboration and discovery for positive change for Grinnell and the world that Grinnellians shape,” says Harris.

Caleb Elfenbein talks to a student who holds a document

For more information, visit Knowledge into Action: A Strategic Plan for Grinnell College, 2023–2030.

As student shakes the hands of a grey-haired man wearing a Grinnell College t-shirt

Scott Shepherd '82 greets a student during the Everyday Class Notes (ECN) care package

Share / Discuss