Mr. Grinnell's work at the University of Wisconsin in the department of geography focuses on regional development in the United States and the United Kingdom, urban governance, and globalization. He holds a master's degree from the University of Chicago, where he focused on the history of urban planning and community development. While a student here, he published a book on the history of Hyde Park (the neighborhood where the University of Chicago is located).
An experienced teacher as well as an expert on Chicago history, former students have described him as "talented, passionate, and engaging" and able to convey "the numbers along with the actual lifestyle of the residents" of Chicago's diverse population. Mr. Grinnell particularly likes teaching in a program for high school students. "When I was in high school, I took part in several summer study programs, and I was always impressed by the caliber of instruction and my fellow students," he said, and those positive experiences, along with his passion for his field, will inform his teaching this summer.
Mr. Grinnell wants his students to understand "how people in urban areas operate" and "how cities 'work,' from the world of community organizing all the way up to how different groups lobby City Hall." He firmly believes that the best way to understand urban society is to get out and experience it, or, as a former student in the course put it, "Everyday, [he] had a new trip or adventure just waiting to be explored." No matter where they have come from and where they will go when the course is over, he hopes the students will have developed the ability "to look at their own communities more insightfully."