Program Information

Mission, Program Structure, and Goals

The Integrative Studies Program (formerly Liberal Studies) is part of the Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies Department (IRIS), located in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies. Many of the most important challenges we face today are complex. We prepare students to be innovators and change agents, supporting them to make a positive difference in their lives, professions, communities, and the world. This includes offering a full compliment of courses on GVSU's Allendale, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City campuses as well as through online and hybrid learning options.

With a curriculum rooted in the values of a liberal education, our students learn to:

  • integrate knowledge and modes of thinking drawn from multiple disciplines
  • develop interdisciplinary understanding of complex problems and intellectual questions
  • demonstrate the ability to engage in perspective-taking
  • cultivate advanced critical thinking skills; and
  • be able to apply classroom knowledge to real-world problems while strengthening their social responsibility and intercultural understanding.

Are you having trouble choosing just one major or specialization? Are you someone who likes to think outside of the box, preferring creative, innovative approaches to following in the footsteps of others? Do you want to become a social innovator or change agent?  Or maybe you already have a variety of life and/or work experiences and want to complete a Bachelor's Degree that will really work for you?

Come see what is possible: Make an appointment to meet with an advisor today.


For an advising on our Traverse City Campus, please click here.

Office and Contact Information

The Integrative Studies Program offers full degree options on three GVSU campuses, including Allendale, Grand Rapids, and Traverse City.

To reach the main IRIS Department office, please visit or contact:

324 LOH on GVSU's Allendale Campus.


If you are located in Traverse City, please contact:

Traverse City Regional Center 
2200 Dendrinos Dr. Ste 102 
Traverse City, Michigan 49684

(231) 995-1785 

Kimberly McKee, Department Chair

Dr. Kimberly McKee

Department Chair and Associate Professor, IRIS

Kimberly McKee is an associate professor in integrative, religious, and intercultural studies at Grand Valley State University. She is the author of Disrupting Kinship: Transnational Politics of Korean Adoption in the United States (University of Illinois Press, 2019) and co-editor of Degrees of Difference: Reflections of Women of Color on Graduate School (University of Illinois Press, 2020). Her current book manuscript, tentatively titled, Adoption Fantasies: The Commodification of Asian Adoptees from Girlhood to Womanhood (Ohio State University Press, under contract), considers the reverberations and effects of sensationalist and fictional adoption portrayals in the lives of adopted women and girls. The monograph interrogates the limits and contours of multiculturalism and colorblindness, analyzing racialized and sexualized popular culture representations of Asian adopted women and girls from 1992 to 2015. McKee serves as a co-chair of the executive committee for the Alliance of the Study of Adoption and Culture. She received her Ph.D. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from The Ohio State University.

Justin Pettibone graduated with an M.A. in Continental Philosophy from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Prior to that, he graduated from the Liberal Studies Department at GVSU, focusing on Intellectual History. He has taught for the department since 2008. In recent years, Prof. Pettibone has worked as the coordinator of the Accelerated Leadership Program, developed courses for the new LEADS program, collaborated with colleagues in the Writing and History departments to teach connected courses in the First Year Learning Communities, and designed and led a study abroad program to Chile with colleagues from GVSU's TRIO office.

Justin Pettibone, Senior Affiliate Faculty, Assistant Department Chair

Justin Pettibone

Senior Affiliate Faculty and Assistant Department Chair

Dr. Krista Benson, Assistant Department Chair

Dr. Krista Benson

Associate Professor and Assistant Department Chair

Krista Benson is an assistant professor in the Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies Department at Grand Valley State University and one of the managing editors of Feral Feminisms. Their research and teaching focuses on anti-racist and decolonial feminist approaches to prison abolition and the relationship between reproductive justice and systems of care for children, including adoption, foster care, and the juvenile justice system. They teach in the Integrative Studies major, Digital Studies minor, LBGT minor, and within the LEADS program at GVSU.


Classes in Integrative Studies are taught by a range of excellent faculty who are committed to putting students first. For a current list of teaching faculty and contact information please visit the IRIS Department faculty and staff directory.

Page last modified September 20, 2022