Meet the Social Innovation Graduate Program Director

For the duration of Spring/Summer 2022, Dr. Denise Goerisch will serve as Interim Director of the Graduate Program in Social Innovation. Students may contact Dr. Goerisch at [email protected] or 616-331-8226.


Following the spring/summer semester, Dr. Azfar Hussain will resume as Graduate Program Director of Social Innovation. Dr. Hussain is an Associate Professor in the Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies (IRIS) Department within the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies (BCOIS) at Grand Valley State University (GVSU).

Recipient of GVSU’s Outstanding University Teacher Award (2018) and former Fulbright scholar, Dr. Hussain is also Vice-President of the US-based Global Center for Advanced Studies (GCAS)—an international consortium of academics, artists, and activists committed to debt-free education, innovation, and social change. He previously taught English, World Literature, Ethnic Studies, and Cultural Studies at Washington State University, Bowling Green State University, and Oklahoma State University. He held the title of Summer Distinguished Professor of English and Humanities at the University of Liberal Arts-Bangladesh (ULAB) from 2017 to 2019 while he held the “Neoliberalism in the Neighborhood” Distinguished Lectureship at the Evergreen State College in January 2017. Dr. Hussain brings a deep commitment to graduate education, including extensive work in graduate teaching and mentoring at multiple universities both in and outside the US.

Dr. Hussain’s primary passions are philosophy, politics, and poetry, while his other three passions include music, mathematics, and Marx. At GVSU, he has taught a wide range of interdisciplinary courses, among which particularly popular ones are “The Two Great Bobs—Bob Dylan and Bob Marley” (INT 401) and “Creativity and Innovative Problem-Solving” (INT 310). In addition to authoring and editing several books in both English and Bengali, Dr. Hussain has bilingually published hundreds of academic, popular, and creative pieces, including English translations of creative works from several non-western languages. He has written on a broad range of topics from Native American poetics to political economy to cultural politics to theories and practices of interdisciplinarity and innovation, while he has written extensively on Bengali literary authors and works.

Dr, Hussain is also an internationally known public intellectual who has long been involved in a variety of advocacy campaigns and lectured on social justice issues around the world. He is currently working on a book provisionally entitled Insurrectionary Interdisciplinarity—a work that addresses, among other things, the relationship between interdisciplinarity and innovation in the interest of social change. He received his MA and PhD—both with distinction—in English and World Literature from Washington State University while he obtained his BA and his first MA in English from Dhaka University, Bangladesh.

Most importantly, Dr. Hussain is passionate about supporting his students. He believes that teaching—like love—transforms life, and that the joy of living is the joy of learning new things every day.

Connect with Dr. Hussain at [email protected] or (616) 947-2233.

Link to a lecture by Dr. Hussain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_cgQoUsvQg

Dr. Azfar Hussain

Azfar Hussain, PhD
Graduate Program Director, Social Innovation
Associate Professor, Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies (IRIS)



Page last modified May 12, 2022