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WGS Headers (14 Photos)

Robin Wall Kimmerer "What does the Earth ask of us?" (10 Photos)

Photo Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills

Faculty Scholarship Showcase 2020 (19 Photos)

On February 25, 2020, about 40 students, faculty, and staff gathered for a showcase of six faculty members' sabbaticals or publications:

Brent Smith, associate professor of religious studies and assistant chair of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies (IRIS), wrote a book, Religious Studies and the Goal of Interdisciplinarity, published by Routledge.

Deana Wiebel, professor of religious studies and anthropology, spent a 2019 sabbatical conducting a multi-sited ethnography on the manifestation of religion among NASA Human Research scientists, technicians, astronauts, flight surgeons, engineers, and pilots. Her ethnographic research into space exploration reveals that religion is a fundamental part of human culture.

Joel Wendland-Liu, associate professor of integrative and intercultural studies, spent his sabbatical researching a project titled, "Racial Formation in West Michigan." Joel visited seven archival sites around the region as well as Madison and Ann Arbor. The aim of the project is to produce a two-part history of West Michigan covering the 19th century through the 21st century.

Peter Wampler, associate professor of geology and faculty-in-residence in honors, spent his sabbatical leading a study abroad trip Haiti, publishing research, traveling for speaking engagements, traveling to locations including Puerto Rico, Iceland, and Switzerland.

Tracy Flemming, associate professor of area and global studies, spent his sabbatical researching his project, "Travel and the Pan African Imagination," which included research in Ghana.

Kelly Parker, director of environmental and sustainability studies and professor of philosophy, co-edited a book, Pragmatist and American Philosophical Perspectives on Resilience, published by Lexington. Kelly also wrote the introduction and contributed a chapter to the book.

(Re)Start Meeting 2020 (13 Photos)

Brooks College faculty and staff gathered on January 10 for the annual Winter (Re)Start Meeting with the theme, "Student Success." Two students presented projects during the event: Emily Zeliasko, shared her work building a stronger community in the Honors College and Margaux Sellnau shared about her experience working with the Sustainable Agriculture Project and the Design Thinking Academy. New faculty and staff were introduced before interim dean, Mark Schaub, provided an update on Brooks College and Jen Jameslyn, director of Integrative Learning and Advising, gave an update on update on advising.

Sustainability Showcase 2019 (13 Photos)

A day to showcase student projects exploring various environmental and sustainability topics. Some classes will be presenting while other students will be displaying posters.

2019 Civil Discourse Symposium (23 Photos)

On November 19, Grand Valley faculty, staff, students, and community members participated in the 6th Annual Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Symposium titled, Civil Discourse Café: Complicated Conversations. Elizabeth Arnold, associate professor of anthropology and the current Padnos/Sarosik endowed professor of civil discourse, focused the event around storytelling as a means of building rapport and empathy. Four storytellers shared stories and represented a variety of perspectives: Lin Bardwell, Grand Rapids Community Relations commissioner and project coordinator for GVSU’s Division of Inclusion and Equity, Victoria Vuletich, Assistant Dean at the Grand Rapids campus of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, Brian Plachta, a shareholder with Plachta, Murphy & Associates, and Peter Sinclair, a videographer who specializes in climate change and renewable energy issues. Attendees were then invited to practice civil discourse in roundtable discussions which were facilitated by student hosts.

During the event, Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, assistant professor of journalism, was introduced as the next Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse. Jeff is the fourth professor in this role following Lisa Perhamus, Jack Mangala, and Elizabeth Arnold. Housed within the Brook College of Interdisciplinary Studies, the Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professorship of Civil Discourse was founded in 2013 through a generous gift from longtime university supporters, Shelley Padnos and Carol Sarosik with the mission to prepare GVSU students to be leaders in advancing respectful, informed dialogue around vital social issues in their communities.

Startup Meeting 2019 (19 Photos)

Semester in Grand Rapids Showcase (9 Photos)

Students who spent a semester engaging with city leaders and working at internships with community organizations shared their experiences at a showcase August 6 at the L. William Seidman Center.

The Semester in Grand Rapids (SIGR) program completed its inaugural year. A cohort of seven students lived in the Grand Rapids area, studied the city's history, learned from city and business leaders and completed internships at organizations such as The Other Way Ministries, YMCA, Home Repair Services and the Cook Arts Center. 

The program is coordinated by the Office for Community Partnerships and Student Professional Development, housed in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, and based on the Semester in Detroit model at the University of Michigan.

Kristin Moretto, director of the Office for Community Partnerships, said students actively applied classroom theories to their internships.

"SIGR allowed students to understand how community history is shaped and how it impacts the lives of residents," Moretto said. "They could see how classroom learning applies in the community and through their experiences at internship sites."

Anthony Hanline completed an internship at the Dwelling Place, an affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization organization. Through class readings and city tours, Hanline said he better understands why affordable housing is such a complex issue.

"I've never had to deal with a housing issue and didn't understand why they couldn't 'just pull themselves up by their bootstraps,'" he said. "I appreciated the opportunity to engage with neighbors and raise awareness of the city's west side and the issue of housing insecurity."

Bethany Joseph supervised a student intern at The Other Way Ministries and said the experience was very worthwhile.

"I'm passionate about college students engaging in the life of the community where they live and study," Joseph said. "I wanted The Other Way to be a part of a college student's life, to adopt them into our vision and show them the ropes of community development work. It is my hope that interns who spend time at The Other Way will be impacted the way I have been by working closely with neighbors."

More information about the program is online at

This story originally appeared in a GVNext Article by Michele Coffill.

Contemporary Stories of Saugatuck (23 Photos)

The Kutsche Office of Local History along with the Saugatuck Douglas History Center trained journalism students at Saugatuck High School in oral history methods, and those students interviewed their peers.

The outcome of this project is a series of portrait boards for each senior that showcases their photos throughout the year as well as a quote from their oral histories.

Learn more about the Kutsch Office at

Sabbatical Showcase & Book Launch Celebration (14 Photos)

Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies celebrated six recent book publications from the following faculty members:

  • Craig Benjamin, professor of history, honors college: his book, Empires of Ancient Eurasia: The First Silk Roads Era, 100 BCE–250 CE. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

  • Jeremiah Cataldo, associate professor of history, honors college. A Social-Political History of Monotheism: From Judah to the Byzantines. Routledge, 2018.

  • Roger Gilles, professor of writing and director of the Frederik Meijer Honors College: his book, Women on the Move: The Forgotten Era of Women’s Bicycle Racing. University of Nebraska Press, 2018.

  • Cáel Keegan, assistant professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies and liberal studies: his book, Lana and Lilly  Wachowski  : Sensing Transgender. The University of Illinois Press, 2018

  • Jack Mangala, professor of area and global studies, and political science: his book, Africa and its Global Diaspora: The Policy and Politics of Emigration. Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

  • Kim McKee, assistant professor of liberal studies and director of the Kutsche Office of Local History: her book, Disrupting Kinship: Transnational Politics of Korean Adoption in the United States. The University of Illinois Press, 2019.

This event was hosted in Brooks College's new Interdisciplinary Salon, located in Lake Ontario Hall, Room 163. The Interdisciplinary Salon is a new space to promote interdisciplinary dialogue and inquiry within Brooks College and across Grand Valley State University on issues of academic and social importance. For more information on the Salon visit