15th Annual Local History Roundtable

Changing Lands: Past, Present, Future.

Each year, the Kutsche Office of Local History hosts a free, public conference that explores different aspects of West Michigan history.

This year, historians, gardeners, chefs, and other community activists will come together to discuss how humans have changed the very soil of West Michigan.

Learn more about our keynote and see a tentative schedule with other presenters.


Looking for information about past Roundtables? Recordings and summaries are available.


Aerial shot of the Richard M. DeVos Center in Grand Rapids

All sessions will be in the Hager-Lubbers Exhibition Hall and Loosemore Auditorium in GVSU's Richard M. DeVos Center.

Getting Here


We have reserved free parking in the Seward Lot and Seward Ramp. This includes handicap-accessible spots.

You must have this parking pass displayed on your car's dashboard to park. Please reach out if you have any issues or are unable to print this pass and would like us to mail you a copy. 

Please see our campus parking map for more details.

Keynote: Foragers of a Modern Countryside

This year's keynote presenter is Dr. Jennifer Bonnell, Associate Professor of History at York University. She will speak about her forthcoming book, Foragers of a Modern Countryside: Honeybees, Agricultural Modernization, and Environmental Change in the Great Lakes Region.

Roughly one-third of the food crops we currently consume in North America require honeybees to produce food. These tiny-but-mighty pollinators are not native to the Americas, and were not raised at scale until the late 1800s and early 1900s. As Europeans forced westward, Michigan's native crops that Indigenous people grew for centuries were replaced by new, non-native crops that required these new, non-native honeybees to grow. Fast forward to the early 2000s, and enormous numbers of honeybees have vanished or died in what has been dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder.

Bonnell's work breaks down the history of honeybees in the Great Lakes region, how beekeepers and honeybee-driven agriculture have changed the Midwestern landscape, and how the threat of Colony Collapse Disorder changes everything.

Adult woman smiling and looking at the camera

Program Schedule

Dr. Todd Robinson presenting at the 7th Annual Local History Roundtable.

Dr. Todd Robinson presenting at the 7th Annual Local History Roundtable.

1:00 pm · Opening Remarks

Mark Schaub - Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies


1:15 pm · Gordon Olson Award presentation

Peg Padnos - Kutsche Office of Local History Advisory Council


1:30 - 3:00 pm · With the Land: Anishinaabeg Perspectives on Environmental History

Kaya DeerInWater, Citizen Band of Potawatomi - Tribal Restoration Ecologist for AIHEC

Andrea Riley-Mukavetz - City of Grand Rapids Office of Equity & Engagement

Camren Stott, Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians - Good Food Systems Program Manager for Access of West Michigan


3:00 - 3:15 pm · Break

Beverages and light refreshments available


3:15 - 4:45 pm · Shifting Lands, Seasonal Labor, Unsettled Movements

Jennifer Tompkins - Grand Rapids Asian-Pacific Foundation

Eric Gollannek - Saugatuck-Douglas History Center

Jeff Smith - Grand Rapids People's History Project

Andrew Schlewitz & Jacey Adams - Grand Valley State University


4:45 - 6:00 pm · Dinner Break

Open to all registered guests


6:00 pm · Welcome & Gather for Keynote


6:00 - 7:00 pm · Keynote Address: Foragers of a Modern Countryside

7:00 - 7:30 · Keynote Question & Answer session

Dr. Jennifer Bonnell - York University Department of History


7:30 pm · Closing remarks

Page last modified April 11, 2024