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Strategic Plan for Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies

Mission

Through innovative, interdisciplinary programs and community partnerships, the Liberal Studies Department cultivates engaged learners who explore the world through a local, national and global lens. We provide integrative frameworks including student designed majors in Liberal Studies, the Intercultural Training Certificate, and the Religious Studies major and minor that inspire lifelong transformative learning and responsible engagement in diverse communities.

Vision

The Liberal Studies Department will be a regional and national model of the transformative process of liberal education through integrative, interdisciplinary, and innovative teaching, learning, and scholarship. We will engage with students to promote diversity, social justice to challenge structural inequalities, and the praxis of active national and international scholarship. We will build vibrant, innovative programs in all our campus locations that serve the emerging needs of our students and our local and global communities.

Value Statement

The values of the Liberal Studies Department are: 

  • Collaborative teaching, learning, and scholarship 
  • Student-centered, experiential teaching and learning 
  • Civic engagement by students, faculty, and staff 
  • Local practices and global understanding that promote social justice and environmental integrity. 
  • Advancing diversity through global and local efforts.
  • Interdisciplinary inquiry by students, faculty, and staff
  • Critical questioning and diverse perspective-taking
  • Democratic equality through social justice
  • Excellence and innovation in teaching & technology
  • Accessibility, academic rigor, and paths to degree completion

Strategic Priorities, outcomes, and key objectives

Strategic Priority Area 1: Actively engage learners at all levels.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 1.A.1

By 2020 at least 90% of students graduating with a LIB studies major participate in two or more high-impact learning experiences prior to graduation, in addition to internships and capstone courses.

Baseline

30

Progress

2020 Status
Achieved
The department has continued to meet or exceed its stated goal. We have also extended our commitment to integrating high-impact learning experiences to all academic programs housed in the IRIS Department.

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
We have met the stated goal of having at least 90% of our majors participate in two or more high-impact learning experiences in addition to internships and capstone courses. We will continue to develop and support these efforts through 2019.

Objective 1.A.2

By 2020, 50% of all seniors in the Liberal Studies major will participate in professional development events, co-curriculars, and/or classroom visits focused on the real world experiences of Lib alumni.

Baseline

10% of seniors in the Liberal Studies major (BA and BS)

Progress

2020 Status
Achieved
The department has continued to meet or exceed its stated goal. We have also extended our commitment to ensuring that all of our students have the opportunity to participate in co-curricular learning opportunities, professional development events, and other integrative learning opportunities.

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
We have met the goal of this objective (50% of all graduating seniors) and will continue to support this work through 2019.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 1.B.1

Support Brooks College goal of increasing graduation rates for undergraduate students, particularly first generation, non-white, and Hispanic students, in LIB by a statistically significant amount by 2021.

Baseline

2015 from six-year self study

Progress

2020 Status
Achieved
The department has increased the graduation rates for undergraduate students, particularly first generation, non-white, and Hispanic students, in Integrative Studies (formerly LIB) by a statistically significant amount. In 2019, nearly 30% of majors were people of color (up from just 15% at the time of our last self-study). Sixty percent of majors were first generation students, and 53% of our graduates in 2018-2019 were non-traditional students.

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
We have continued to implement the action steps outlined in our strategic plan and are on track to meet our goals by 2021.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 1.C.1

By 2020 the Liberal Studies department will increase by 10% the number of sections of LIB prefix courses providing community-based learning experiences.

Baseline

8 Sections (LIB 322, LIB 323, LIB 341, LIB 342)

Progress

2020 Status
Achieved
We have maintained our commitment to community-based learning through formally designed CBL class sections in addition to integrating community-based learning opportunities across our curriculum.

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
We have met the target goal of increasing the number of LIB prefix courses providing community-based learning experiences by 10%. Our focus remains on developing more lasting, reciprocal, mutually beneficial partnerships between the department and community partner organizations as well as maintaining the highest standards of professional ethics and best practices for this work.

Outcome D: Grand Valley supports innovative teaching, learning, integrative scholarly and creative activity, and the use of new technologies.

Objective 1.D.1

Support development of the new Brooks College interdisciplinary programs or initiatives that support and enhance university-wide collaboration and embody innovations in content, pedagogy, high impact learning opportunities, or technology.

Baseline

7 faculty currently serving in 2016

Progress

2020 Status
Achieved
The department has exceeded this objective.

2019 Status
Achieved
Our faculty contributed significantly to support and develop new Brooks College interdisciplinary programs, successfully seeing several new initiatives approved in 2017-2018. We also continue to actively contribute to the ongoing success of new programs through teaching, curricular contributions, service contributions and collaborative teaching and research. At least one-half of our full-time, regular faculty continue to teach courses that are a part of minor or certificate programs within Brooks College, served on task forces or advisory councils for interdisciplinary programs, or help to launch new interdisciplinary, academic programs. By the end of 2017-2018 we had met all of the strategy actions identified in the 2016 Strategic Plan. Several of these programs, including the Professional Master of Arts in Social Innovation (PMASI) and Major in Environmental Studies were approved in 2018 and will launch in 2019. The PMASI started its first class in Winter 2019. Faculty in LIB also created a new badge program for degree-seeking and non-degree seeking students in Intercultural Competency, which launched in Winter 2019 as well.

Objective 1.D.2

By 2021, increase student enrollment in the REL major and minor as well as in ITC programs (certificate and badge) by 50%. Increase enrollment of non-traditional/degree completion students in LIB major by 10% by 2021.* *Objective revised in F2018.

Baseline

Winter 2016: REL Major - 15 REL Minor - 28 ITC Certificates awarded - 3 Accelerated Leadership Program - 25

Progress

2020 Status
Substantive Progress
In response to changing enrollment patterns and an ongoing commitment to maintaining the highest quality of instruction, interdisciplinary inquiry, and critical inquiry, in 2018-2019, the department carefully reviewed its existing student credit hour production, enrollment patterns, departmental structures, and curriculum. This resulted in several significant action steps, including: renaming the department to more fully reflect the four academic programs it houses; restructuring its administrative functions to foster collaboration and better distribute resources across its programs; initiating several significant curricular revisions to increase access to its academic programs with a particular eye toward supporting “new majority” students. This included significant changes to the Religious Studies and Intercultural Competence Training Programs.

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
We have implemented the action steps outlined in the 2016 strategic plan. Although we have not yet met our goal of increasing enrollment in all of these areas by 50%, we have made substantive progress and believe we are on track toward meeting this goal by 2021.

Strategic Priority Area 2: Further develop exceptional personnel.

Outcome A: Grand Valley's learning environment is personal, challenging, and transformational, supporting excellent academic programs and co-curricular opportunities.

Objective 2.A.1

By 2019, 20% of full-time faculty will have participated in community engaged teaching/research in keeping with best practices for mutually beneficial community-based teaching, learning, and research.

Baseline

N/A

Progress

2020 Status
Achieved
The department has continued to meet or exceed this objective.

2019 Status
Achieved
Of our 21 full-time faculty, more than 50% participated in at least one community-engaged activity within the past year. We have fulfilled all the actions noted as part of the plan and met our goal.

Objective 2.A.2

By 2018 20% or more of LIB faculty engage LIB colleagues in co-teaching, co-research, shared projects, and/or presentations.

Baseline

N/A

Progress

2020 Status
Achieved
Although the department met this objective in 2018, we recognize the need to continue to build mechanisms to support co-teaching, co-research, shared projects, and/or presentations across the department. Renewing these efforts will be a priority in the next year.

2018 Status
Achieved
We have met and exceeded this objective with well over 50% of LIB faculty engaging with colleagues through co-teaching, co-research, shared projects, and/or presentations.

Objective 2.A.3

By 2020, 20% of faculty will have participated in regional and/or national training for best practices in faculty/student collaborative undergraduate research.

Baseline

0

Progress

2020 Status
Achieved
The IRIS Department continues to increase opportunities for undergraduate research while emphasizing best practices for mentoring and ethical conduct of research. With the launch of the Professional Master of Arts in Social Innovation, undergraduate research is now further supported through departmental support for the university’s Student Initiated Combined Degree Program. We met this stated objective in 2019.

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
As a department, we are increasing opportunities for undergraduate research while maintaining best practices, including specific attention to mentorship.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 2.B.1

Advance diversity of underrepresented groups within tenure-line faculty by 10% of total faculty (total number of unit faculty is 20 including 1 joint appointment).

Baseline

6

Progress

2020 Status
Achieved
By 2018, the department had met its goal of advancing diversity of underrepresented groups within its tenure-line faculty by 10%. We have continued to diversity our department faculty as well as focusing on efforts to support retention of diverse faculty.

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
We have met our goal of advancing diversity of underrepresented groups within tenure-line faculty by 10%. We must now focus on retention and ensuring an inclusive and supportive environment for underrepresented faculty, the majority of whom are untenured.

Objective 2.B.2

Support professional development for faculty and staff related to inclusion and equity.

Baseline

0

Progress

2020 Status
Substantial Progress
This is an area where we will continue to devote significant attention through 2020 because it is so important to diverse faculty retention.

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
We are continuing to support professional development for faculty and staff related to inclusion and equity, focusing particularly on strengthening department-wide mentoring for 2019.

Strategic Priority Area 3: Ensure the alignment of institutional structures and functions.

Strategic Priority Area 4: Enhance the institution's image and reputation.

Outcome B: Grand Valley is diverse and inclusive.

Objective 4.B.1

Liberal Studies Department faculty continue to promote inclusion and diversity in coursework, mentoring, scholarship, and recruitment and retention of underrepresented student and faculty groups.

Baseline

To be established

Progress

2020 Status
Substantial Progress
The department continues to extend its efforts to promote inclusion and diversity across all aspects of our work. Creating a merged department (Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies) that more fully shares resources to promote and support inclusion work being carried out by faculty and students across all four programs it houses has significantly helped us to carry this work forward.

2019 Status
Substantive Progress
We have implemented several of the strategy actions outlined to meet this goal, including outreach to community colleges and work to more fully support students on the Traverse City campus. Our work to meet this goal will continue in earnest through 2019.

Outcome C: Grand Valley has mutually beneficial relationships, partnerships, collaborations, and connections with local, state, national, and world communities.

Objective 4.C.1

By 2020, all Liberal Studies faculty who are engaged in community-based learning and/or research will be modeling mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborations with local, state, national, and world communities that are rooted in the department's core learning outcomes.

Baseline

Unknown.

Progress

2020 Status
Achieved
We are pleased to have achieved this objective.

2019 Status
Substantial Progress
We have implemented three of our four strategic actions and will move toward more publicizing of faculty and student accomplishments over the next year.

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