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Adult Community Exploration Series offers free summer courses

Adult Community Exploration Series offers free summer courses
Grinnell College faculty members will teach 4 classes on a wide array of topics


GRINNELL, Iowa — Delve into detective fiction, the definition of liberty, the meaning of the phrase “born to run,” and the impact of antibacterial products during free summer classes for adults in Grinnell.

The Adult Community Exploration Series (ACES) is offering four free classes, each taught by a Grinnell College faculty member. Classes will meet on Wednesday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m. in the Caulkins Room of the Drake Community Library, 930 Park St., Grinnell. Refreshments will be served at each session.

The schedule of courses appears below:

June 13

Are We Too Clean?

Students will weigh the pros and cons of antibacterial products and learn if and how microorganisms are associated with health issues including allergies, asthma and brain function. They will consider diverse viewpoints and explore the ways in which ethnicity, class and gender influence our exposure to microorganisms. Shannon Hinsa-Leasure, associate professor of biology and an environmental microbiologist, will teach this course.

June 20, 27

Defining Liberty

 Just in time for Independence Day, students will assess the 14th Amendment and how it has become a source of liberty for all Americans. The 14th Amendment, which outlawed slavery in the wake of the Civil War, was rendered nearly meaningless by early Supreme Court rulings. Over time, however, the amendment’s guarantees of “due process under law” and “equal protection under the law” provided the basis for landmark court decisions desegregating schools, legalizing same-sex marriage and protecting the rights of those accused of crimes. Teaching this course will be Peter Hanson, associate professor of political science and a specialist in American politics.

 July 11, 18

Born to Run?

 The phrase “born to run” brings to mind a cheetah and gazelle bursting into a high-speed chase as the gazelle weaves and cuts back to try to escape death by forcing the cheetah to break its sprint. Students will examine how “born to run” applies to the animal kingdom and to humans, examining anatomical, genetic, evolutionary and cultural factors. They also will study modern endurance runners and learn why thoroughbreds race in the Kentucky Derby rather than quarter houses, and why a rabbit can often (but not always) outrun a domestic cat. Vicki Bentley-Condit, professor and chair of anthropology, will teach this course.

July 25, Aug. 1

American Detective Fiction

Students will venture into the dark alleys of detective fiction, assessing how the global popularity of detective dramas, murder mysteries and shady sleuths can be traced to a uniquely American configuration of detective fiction. They also will investigate the evolution of the detective protagonist, the types of crimes uncovered and the role of detective fiction in critiquing American society. Teaching this class will be Nick Phillips, assistant professor of Spanish and a scholar of Spanish and Latin American detective fiction.


Although all four courses are free, advance registration is required. For registration or more information, please contact the Grinnell College Office of Conference Operations and Events at 641-269-3235 or


ACES is a joint initiative of Grinnell College and the Community Education Council.

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