Civil Discourse Center, Faculty and Staff Introductions and Updates
Civil Discourse Center, Faculty and Staff Introductions and Updates
Grand Valley State University
Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Newsletter August 2021
Headshot of Mark Schaub, Dean of Brooks College

Dean's Message

How you wanted that too: the spark-glow in their eyes.
Studying, sleeping, you woke again, and walked the sidewalks
To school, counting the cracks, naming the trees and streets.
                                                 --Patricia Clark, from “Schooling”
This morning, Lake Ontario Hall was surrounded by members of the Laker Marching band, now in their second week of intense practice. The flute and piccolo section were off to the northwest, rehearsing the refrain of the “fight song,” originally titled, Victory G.V.S.C. The saxophone section was in the locust grove to the southwest, blowing the melody of Black Sabbath’s 1970 hit, “Ironman.” Both these 50-something tunes are from deep in the past to these traditional-age college student musicians. But in most cases, I assume, this is the first time they’re playing them.
We can all learn new tricks. We all do learn new tricks. That’s what being good teachers involves. That’s what being a good anything involves. What often frustrates us is when we are obliged by others to learn new things—things we may not care about. I am certain that you’ve had to learn some new things this summer. (For me, it was the new “Concur” software for campus expense management.) But I really hope your research, whether in the fields of Montana or in the archives of Grand Rapids, allowed you to learn new things that you were excited about. I hope that in your staff role you were able to gain insights that will help you help students in newly effective ways.
Our students expect us to bring enthusiasm here. Of course, we bring our whole selves (including anxieties) to the game, too. As do they. From what I’ve observed from talking with our newest students the last couple days: they are really bringing it all. Their anxieties, yes, but their enthusiasm. In abundance. They want to learn new tricks. New songs. New places and possibilities and ways of doing things.
Bring it.
Mark Schaub signature

Mark Schaub
Dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Gift from Longtime Supporters Expands Work of Civil Discourse Program into Center

A gift from two longtime Grand Valley supporters has created the Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse and ensured students will continue learning how to engage in civil discussions on controversial issues.
Shelley Padnos and Carol Sarosik recently expanded their support to establish the civil discourse center, housed in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, which they established in 2012 with a gift to the university to endow a professorship and begin a program.
Mark Schaub, dean of Brooks College, said the gift from Padnos and Sarosik is a statement of confidence in Grand Valley, Brooks College and Lisa Perhamus' leadership. Perhamus, associate professor of education, serves as the center's director and was the inaugural endowed professor of civil discourse.
"Ms. Sarosik and Ms. Padnos have dramatically increased their support for the work of the center, which means we will better be able to educate and train undergraduate students on how to engage in and ultimately lead civil discussion on contentious societal issues," Schaub said. "These issues that need addressing are points of conflict and misunderstanding that divide us and hold us back from realizing our full potential as a peaceful and productive society governing ourselves through a healthy democracy."

Brooks College 2020-2021 Highlights

As the start of the new semester approaches, take a look back at a collection of highlights from the 2020-2021 academic year in the Brooks College Annual Report.

New Faculty & Staff Introductions

A warm welcome to the following colleagues who are joining Brooks College this fall!
Marie Burnside headshot
Marie Burnside is an affiliate professor in the IRIS department. Marie earned her Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Michigan State University and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She worked for several years in the nonprofit sector developing interfaith service-learning initiatives in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul area before returning to West Michigan. Marie is an active supporter of veterans and public schools. She loves to spend time volunteering at her local elementary school and traveling with her partner, Nate and her son, Everett.
Dan Cope headshot
Dan Cope is an affiliate professor in the IRIS Department. With degrees in American Literature from Miami University (B.A.) and Grand Valley State University (M.A.), Dan’s contribution to IRIS curricula is through working class literature and art. Her 2017 master’s thesis, entitled “Reckoning: Detroit’s Literary Crisis of Conscience,” explored the influence of Fordism on class identity in Detroit and how its decline manifests in contemporary literature about the city. Her research into industrial automotive culture necessarily includes the spatialization of race and the ways in which civic policies codify racism. Dan continues this work in her INT 314 courses in which students explore place-based identity. Dan is very involved with election work and has served on several receiving boards in addition to administering the 2020 elections as a Deputy Clerk in Grand Rapids. She is passionate about voter education.
Lzz Johnk headshot
Lzz Johnk is a visiting professor in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department. They completed their PhD in WGSS with a graduate minor in Queer Studies and a concentration in Disability Studies at Oregon State University in Spring 2021. Their dissertation reimagines the genealogical roots of Disability Studies and Mad Studies through women of color feminist scholarship-activism, which prompts critical recalibration of rationality, the self, and what it means to be human. Their research interests also include Black Studies and Native Studies, especially where they are in dialogue to shift radical imaginaries for liberatory futures. They enjoy making digital and paper art, swimming, and spending time with their partners Matt and Gabrielle.
Barry Kanpol headshot
Barry Kanpol is a professor of Education in the Honors College. His Ph.D from Ohio State University intersected the role of teachers in the social order with social and cultural race, class and gender social concerns. His use of Critical Pedagogy and critical ethnography as a theoretical and research platform legitimized further ethnographic studies in urban environments. Eventual linkages were made to popular culture and education, and various theological principles involving, among others, liberation theology. Additionally, a flourishing academic concentration has cultivated through 16 years of university leadership in the role of Community Civic Engagement and potential social impact both in the University and out of it. The culmination of Barry’s varied academic interests has resulted in editorship of 2 book series at Peter Lang Publishers. Barry has 4 children and 1 grandchild. Barry enjoys both playing and avidly watching professional tennis, walking, biking and hanging out with his spouse, Susan.
Ari L. Mokdad headshot
Ari L. Mokdad, visiting faculty in the IRIS Department, completed her Master of Arts in English at Wayne State University in 2017 and received three Bachelor of Arts from Grand Valley State University in Dance, English, and Writing in 2014. Her thesis, “Body Studies: Arabets” was published in Elemental: A Collection of Michigan Creative Nonfiction, which was the recipient of the 2019 Michigan Notable Book Award. While in her hometown of Detroit, Ari debuted a projection-mapped, interdisciplinary performance at the historic Detroit Music Hall titled, Body Studies. In 2019, Ari was selected to perform and choreograph for Theotokos: Reimagining the Mother of God which was generously supported by the Lynch and Sons Fund for the Arts and debuted Water Studies with the Detroit Dance City Festival at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Ari is currently completing her MFA from Warren Wilson College and her Ph.D. in Composition and Rhetoric at Wayne State University. She is the recipient of the 2020 Rona Jaffe Foundation Graduate Fellowship and was awarded the 2021 Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs Grant for her forthcoming collaborative performance, When Water Moves. Ari’s creative and scholarly work has focused on identity and place, as well as water rights, activism, and conservation within the Great Lakes region.
Nora Salas headshot
Nora Salas joins Brooks College as Director of the Kutsche Office of Local History. Nora is an associate professor in the History Department. She completed her PhD in history at Michigan State University in 2015. Nora’s most recent article, “Pablo's Problem”: Michigan Chicano Movement Anticolonialism and the Farm Bureau's Peasant Menace, 1962–1972,” was published in the Michigan Historical Review in 2019. Therein Nora analyzes the mutually constituted relationship between the Michigan Farm Bureau’s colonial rhetoric and Chicano political identity formation in the state. In the Kutsche Office, Nora hopes to continue her commitment to helping diverse communities claim their place in West Michigan’s history. Outside of work Nora enjoys messy gardening, slow hiking, overly elaborate science fiction and spending time with her husband Tim, and her daughter, Lucia.
David Sinn headshot
David L. Sinn is a visiting professor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. David is an educator and ecologist with a passion for student learning and growth in the classroom, field, and life. David has a PhD in ecology from the University of Tasmania, Australia, and has previously served as a Lecturer at the University of Tasmania, as a wildlife ecologist for the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, as a research co-director of a canine lab at the University of Texas at Austin, as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Davis, as a science educator for at-risk and adjudicated youth in Oregon and Michigan, and recently as an adjunct teaching professor in Brooks College at GVSU. Outside of work David enjoys adventure sports (surfing, biking, rock climbing), being in the outdoors, and spending time with his wife Holli and their two daughters, Eden and Odette.
Brian Trager headshot
Brian Trager serves as an academic advisor with the Brooks College Advising Center. In May of 2021, Brian completed an M.Ed. with the College Student Affairs Leadership Program at Grand Valley. Prior to joining Brooks Advising, he served as a graduate assistant with GVSU Admissions, a graduate intern with Oliver Wilson Scholars, and as a NODA Intern at Winthrop University. Brian is passionate about supporting students on their collegiate journey. Outside of work, he enjoys exploring West Michigan; going to Whitecaps and Griffins games, trying new restaurants in the area, and spending plenty of time at Lake Michigan.
Melba and Chad headshot
Melba Vélez Ortiz joins the Honors College as a professor of communications. Melba and Professor Chad are a dynamic duo committed to promoting, teaching, and researching communication ethics. Originally from Puerto Rico, Melba has been teaching at the college level for 23 years while Professor Chad, originally from Sacramento, CA has been doing so for 5 years out of his 6 years of age. They have a special interest in ancient and classical approaches to communication ethics, particularly ancient African approaches such as Maat. Comparative philosophy and intellectual history are other passions.
Deana Weibel headshot
Deana Weibel, jointly appointed professor in the departments of Anthropology and IRIS and interim chair of IRIS for the 2021-2022 academic year, obtained her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California at San Diego in 2001. An anthropologist of religion, Deana has spent many years studying pilgrimage and tourism as well as sacred places, experiences and objects, mostly in her field site of Rocamadour, France, but more recently also in the context of space travel and exploration, with research at NASA centers throughout the U.S. and a month spent living among the Jesuit astronomers at the Vatican Observatory. She recently co-edited and contributed to a special issue of the journal Religions about the intersection of religious and scientific understandings of outer space and her book A Sacred Vertigo: Pilgrimage and Tourism in Rocamadour, France is in press. Deana loves travel, science fiction, genealogy and spending time with her husband Glen and newly teenage son Luke.

Faculty and Staff Updates

Krista Benson, assistant professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies, is serving as an assistant department chair of the IRIS Department.
Max Counter is a new affiliate faculty member of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies. Last year Max was a visiting professor in the IRIS Department.
Azfar Hussain, associate professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies, is serving as the interim director of the Social Innovation M.A. program.
Alissa Lane began a new role as International Programs Coordinator in the Padnos International Center (PIC). Previously, Alissa was the Study Abroad Outreach Coordinator in PIC.
Julia Mason, associate professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies (WGS), is serving as the interim chair of WGS through Fall 2021.
Amy McFarland, associate professor of environmental and sustainability studies (ENS), is the interim director of ENS.
Crystal Scott-Tunstall, affiliate faculty member of environmental and sustainability studies (ENS), is now also serving as the ENS internship coordinator.
Melanie Shell-Weiss, associate professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies, is the Interim Associate Dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies.


Chasity Bailey-Fakhoury and Lisa Perhamus, associate professors of education, and Kin Ma, associate professor of geography and sustainable planning, were authors of an article, "Feeling Displaced, Enacting Resistance: Race, Place, and Schooling in the Face of Gentrifying Forces," published in the Urban Review Journal.
Lynnette Keen, integrative, religious, and intercultural studies office coordinator, and her husband, retired U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Gerald Keen, were featured in a follow-up WOOD TV 8 story about their efforts to bring an Afghan interpreter and his family to the U.S. The family is now safe in Canada.
Ayana Weekley, associate professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies, was selected for a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute hosted by the Project on the History of Black Writing. Ayana was also interviewed for a GVNext story, "Oliver Wilson Scholars set up for success after completing summer program."


Faculty Calendar

August 25: 27th Annual Virtual Fall Conference on Teaching and Learning by FTLC
August 27: Convocation

August 30: Classes begin
September 1: Sabbatical Applications due by 11:59 p.m.
September 6: Labor Day recess
October 11: Teach-In proposal submission deadline
November 10-11: 9th Annual Teach-In: Power, Privilege and Difficult Dialogues
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