Owning the Intangible: Possession, Theft, and (Mis)Appropriation of Ideas

Scholars' Convocation

Six or seven times each semester, Grinnell College hosts a Scholars' Convocation in which a distinguished scholar lectures to the campus on a topic of general interest. (At one time, Scholars' Convocation was held weekly, or as close to weekly as we could come.) Each Convocation is held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, usually in Herrick Chapel.

In theory (at least in my theory), Scholars' Convocation provides a central underpining for the Individually Mentored Curriculum (formerly known as the Open Curriculum). Since students at Grinnell are unlikely to have common texts, Convocation provides a common body of knowledge that all Grinnellians can draw upon in analysis and discussion.

I require students in my Tutorial to regularly attend Scholars' Convocation. We use the Convocation lectures for two primary purposes. First, the content of the lectures often serve to support discussion in Tutorial. Second, we deconstruct the style of the lectures as preparation for the students' own public presentations.

In preparation for these two uses, I also require my students to write short (one paragraph) reflections on each convocation. These reflections should be posted to the course Wiki. Students who lack access to the course Wiki should submit the reflections via email.

On weeks when no Convocation is held, I expect my students to attend another public activity in the Convocation time slot, unless there is no public activity scheduled in that time slot.


This is a tentative schedule for Convocation activities in Fall 2010. In some weeks, nothing has been scheduled yet, but may be added in the near future. In a few weeks, we'll do our best to attend lectures that fall at other times, such as the World Food Prize lecture.

2 September 2010 (Scholars' Convocation, Herrick Chapel)
Raynard Kington - US Disparities in Health: Recent Trends and Causal Pathways
9 September 2010
16 September 2010 (Scholars' Convocation, JRC 101)
William Beeman - Iran is Not What You Think It Is
23 September 2010 (Rosenfield Symposium, JRC 101)
Beyond the Cold War
30 September 2010
Geraldine Richmond - Going Nonlinear to Understand Environmentally Important Processes at Liquid Surfaces
7 October 2010 (Scholars' Convocation, JRC 101)
Adam Hochschild
Wednesday, 13 October 2010 (World Food Prize Lecture, JRC 101, 8:00 p.m.)
28 October 2010 (Art Gallery Presentation, ARH 302, 4:15 p.m.)
Laughing Matters
4 November 2010
11 November 2010 (Scholar's Convocation, JRC 101)
Jonathan Lear
18 November 2010 (Rosenfield Symposium, JRC 101)
James McCann: Iowa and International Agriculture
25 November 2010 (Thanksgiving Break)
2 December 2010 (Scholars' Convocation, JRC 101)
Steve Kurtz
9 December 2010




Some unknown date in August 2005 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Saturday, 18 August 2007 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Sunday, 19 August 2007 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

Monday, 16 August 2010 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]


Disclaimer: I usually create these pages on the fly, which means that I rarely proofread them and they may contain bad grammar and incorrect details. It also means that I tend to update them regularly (see the history for more details). Feel free to contact me with any suggestions for changes.

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Samuel A. Rebelsky, rebelsky@grinnell.edu