Heading: Undergraduate Courses

Courses are developed by the endowed professor with the objectives of strengthening students’ civil discourse skills; studying a contentious social issue from a variety of perspectives; and supporting students’ growth to become civically-engaged, fair-minded leaders in the community.

Subheading: Current Class

Journalism and Global Civil Discourse

Person sitting on a stool reading a newspaper that is on fire. The text "FAKE NEWS" appears over the bottom of the image.

Professor Jeff Kelly Lowenstein

Offered Fall 2020, T/Th, 10:00 a.m. to 11:15am


The 2020-2021 Civil Discourse class at GVSU will focus on journalism and global civil discourse. This is a seminar course designed to examine the tension arising from the international assault on civil discourse, truth and democracy that is happening around the world as well as to identify how journalists and others are operating in their efforts to contribute accurate information to public understanding. Students will study the consistent methods of attacking and discrediting unfavorable information through the use of the rhetoric of fake news, attacking the journalists and the outlets that produce them, the efforts to control the information to which people have access, and the use of social media and information networks to spread viral misinformation. At the same time, they will also look into the work of those people, organizations and news outlets engaged in countering these trends. This part of the course will include investigating the developing global fact checking network, the social media strategies they are using, and their efforts to automate some of the counter information. It will also involve hearing from journalists who live and work in countries with difficult press environments who are members of the global water investigation I am leading. By the end of the semester students will be more engaged and critical news consumers with a broader, more informed perspective on this issue and its consequences for our world. They will also be more able to understand and engage in civil discourse around this and other thorny issues.

Subheading: Past Classes

Professor Lisa Perhamus

This course studies community revitalization efforts in the city of Detroit. Focusing on community-based initiatives that are strengthening neighborhoods, improving schools and fostering the well-being of children, families, and neighborhoods in Detroit, this course invites students with diverse perspectives, from across content areas. The class includes two visits to Detroit.  

This class is now offered Fall semesters as IDS/EDF 325: Learning from Detroit.

Professor Jack Mangala

This course takes an interdisciplinary and grassroots approach to the study of immigration. Students are challenged to think critically about the processes and issues driving international migration (globalization, poverty, conflicts, human rights and the environment) as well as its impact on sending and host countries and communities.

A core emphasis of the course, and an area of experiential learning for students, will be on grassroots initiatives and local efforts aimed at building welcoming cities and communities for immigrants and refugees. The overarching objective of the course is to enable students to develop the skills and intellectual assets needed to engage in civil discourse on the defining issue of immigration.

This class is now offered Fall semesters as GSI/PLS 215: Global Migration.

Professor Elizabeth Arnold

A civil discourse on climate change could not be timelier in America. President Trump and his administration are pulling out of the international Paris climate agreement, severely cutting funding to clean energy programs and climate change initiatives and appointing non-scientists into key governmental positions. These actions of our government have increased skepticism, ignorance and confusion among the public on the topic and have increased the partisan divide on climate change. These actions stand in direct opposition to the broad scientific consensus that climate change is real and man-made, and affecting communities in every part of the country. The focus this semester within the larger topic of climate change will be water resources.