Crystal Scott-Tunstall, Global Civil Discourse, Employee Ombuds, Graduation
Crystal Scott-Tunstall, Global Civil Discourse, Employee Ombuds, Graduation
Grand Valley State University
Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Newsletter March 2021
Headshot of Mark Schaub, Dean of Brooks College
Dean Schaub

Dean's Message

As we hit the midpoint of a long, Spring Break-less term, it’s good to remind ourselves that, sometimes, just getting through, not always according to plan, can yield the most memorable teaching and learning moments. The script, sometimes, should be left alone.
In wistful moments, I often place myself in the favorite classroom of my career: the fifth-floor classroom in central Cairo where I taught first-year composition. I never minded the 8:00 a.m. meeting times, since it was so much cooler that early. It was easier to manage the climb up the narrow staircase, and we could still have the huge screenless windows open to the morning breeze and could keep the loud air conditioner off. The room overlooked a narrow alley adjacent to the soon-to-be-closed 17th-century souk: Bab el Louk market, where I could always look down on a poultry butcher, whose business kept half the pavement wet, and red. If we propped the door open for the delicious cross breeze, swallows would zoom clear through, flinchingly close to our heads. More than once, they left behind fresh droppings on my desk, briefcase, or chair.
My reverie is broken, though, when I recall a morning, 30 years ago. I was running a bit late, and found all the students seated, and strangely quiet. I knew something was up, and after setting my class notes on the desk, asked what was going on. “You tell us,” said the designated spokesman. That alone was a shock, as the students were generally much more deferential to the professor than any of my students from teaching at U.S. institutions. “The Americans, they just killed a thousand innocent civilians today.”
I hadn’t read the news, and was a year away from my first email account, let alone anything like I was stunned, not just by the horrific news—that more and more of the students started recounting—but by the demand that emerged from the students. They expected me to say something on behalf of my entire nation.
Later I learned that the death toll from the bombing of the Amiriya shelter was about half of what the students had reported, but was nonetheless horrific. It was 13 February 1991. I didn’t use my notes that day.
Mark Schaub signature

Mark Schaub
Dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies
Crystal Scott-Tunstall headshot
Crystal Scott-Tunstall

Crystal Scott-Tunstall Recognized by the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum

Crystal Scott-Tunstall, affiliate professor of Environmental and Sustainability Studies, was featured in an article by the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum (WMSBF), "Celebrating Black Excellence in Sustainability."
Scott-Tunstall was recognized for her involvement in a number of environmental justice and food access groups, including the City of Grand Rapids Urban Agriculture Committee, NAACP Environmental Justice Committee, Kent County Food and Nutrition Coalition, New City Neighbors Urban Farm Board of Directors, and Access of West Michigan Board of Directors.
Scott-Tunstall said, "It is important for People of Color to choose careers in the sustainability field. People of Color suffer the most from environmental issues. I believe that representation in sustainability is key to bringing awareness to the environmental injustice that plagues Black and Brown Communities.” Read more on the WMSBF website.
Screenshot of the Global Civil Discourse Map
Screenshot of the Global Civil Discourse Map

GVSU Faculty and Students Collaborate on Global Civil Discourse Map

A first-of-its-kind map displaying civil discourse ratings around the globe is set to launch later this month.
The Global Civil Discourse Map assigns a civil discourse rating to more than 170 countries around the world. The map ranks countries in terms of the quality of their civil discourse attributes like internet access, online censorship level, and Reporters Without Borders ranking.
The map is a collaborative project between Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse, and a team of GVSU students from his IDS 350 course and the Computer Science Program.
Kelly Lowenstein said the map helps illustrate the "tension between, on the one hand, national and international promises of freedom of speech and press freedom, and on the other, the lived reality of residents in those countries. It has the potential to provide a baseline for conversation of what civil discourse looks like in different countries around the world."
The Global Civil Discourse Map will launch during part two of the Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Symposium on March 25.
The event, titled, "The Global Battle for Truth in the Fake News Era," will feature presentations by GVSU faculty member Vandana Pednekar-Magal and acclaimed Chilean journalist Alejandra Matus.
Lisa Perhamus, Director of the Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Program, said, "Building on the national focus of part one, part two of this year’s symposium has a global focus. It is a continued effort to share diverse perspectives that lead to more understanding, empathy, and mutual respect. We hope that the launch of our Global Civil Discourse Map Project will encourage community members to engage in positive, thought-provoking conversation." 
Elisa Salazar headshot
Elisa Salazar

Helpful Resource: Employee Ombuds 

Last month Grand Valley's Employee Ombuds Office opened as a new resource for faculty and staff.
The Employee Ombuds serves as a neutral, independent, informal, and confidential resource to help faculty and staff navigate and address workplace issues. The Employee Ombuds Office differs from Human Resources and other conflict resolution services because it is independent of any formal University process.
The inaugural Employee Ombuds, Elisa Salazar, previously served as the Work-Life Consultant for Human Resources at GVSU, where she managed the personal and supportive options of the conflict resolution process.
Salazar said, "I am humbled and honored to be selected for this role. I view this position as a lighthouse, a safe space for employees to come and seek guidance and resources."
The Employee Ombuds can provide support if you feel any of the following:
  • I do not know how to proceed
  • I am trying to avoid escalation conflict
  • I feel unfairly or insensitively treated
  • I believe that my due process rights have been violated
  • I feel subjected to intimidating, bullying, or toxic behavior
  • I feel I am not being listened to
  • I feel powerless
  • I need coaching on dispute resolution skills
  • I believe the University should improve its policies, procedures, & patterns of treatment
  • I am having an issue with a colleague
Virtual and phone appointments are available. To schedule an appointment, call 616-331-8009 or email For more information, visit

Virtual and In-person Graduation Events Planned

In lieu of the traditional in-person Commencement ceremony held at Van Andel Arena, Grand Valley has announced plans for winter graduation, offering two ways to honor graduates: virtually or in-person.
On Friday, April 30, at 7 p.m. a virtual Commencement Ceremony will be held.
On Saturday, May 1, graduates can walk across the Commencement stage at the Allendale Campus Fieldhouse Arena to receive their diplomas at reserved times.
Opportunities for faculty and staff to participate and assist in the Celebration with our newest graduates will be available soon. For more information visit

GVSU Community Service Directory

The Office of Civic Learning and Community Engagement created a new Community Service Directory to be a convenient access point for community members to find resources and services provided by GVSU. To add your unit's resource or service to the directory, please fill out this form.


Jeremiah Cataldo, professor of history in honors, wrote a chapter, "Postcolonial Readings of the Minor Prophets," in a book, Oxford Handbook of the Minor Prophets, published by Oxford University Press.
Kurt Ellenburger, professor of music in honors, wrote a five-part article, "Ghosts in the Machine: Jazz Musicians and Popular Music," published on the website, All About Jazz.
Patrick Johnson, Director of the Fred Meijer Writing Center, co-wrote a chapter, "Nothing is Permanent Except Change: The Adaptive Writing Center Training Model," published in a book, Training Research Consultants: A Guide for Academic Libraries published by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).
Kim McKee, director of the Kutsche Office of Local History, spoke to Shelley Irwin on the WGVU Morning Show about the 12th Annual Local History Roundtable.
Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, assistant professor of multimedia journalism and Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse, worked with undergraduate students and USA Today's national investigative team on a reverse mortgage investigation that received a National Association of Black Journalists award in the Newspaper Investigative Category.


Faculty Calendar

March 15: 2021 Faculty Activity Plan (FAP) due to Unit Head - only F21 required
March 15: CSCE Catalyst Grant Program applications due by 5 p.m.
April 1: Break Date (no classes will be held and no assignments will be due)
April 24: Classes end

April 26 – May 1: Final exams
May 4: Grades due by 12:00 p.m.
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