RH2025, Service Awards, Semester in Detroit, Design Thinking, WGS Gift Bags
RH2025, Service Awards, Semester in Detroit, Design Thinking, WGS Gift Bags
Grand Valley State University
Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Newsletter December 2021
Headshot of Mark Schaub, Dean of Brooks College

Dean's Message

I come from a family of teachers, and I believe ideas matter; the good ones deserve reverence, and the bad ones, defiance.
                                                                            — Nancy Gibbs
As one of the leaders of the process to develop our shared language for GVSU’s future in Reach Higher 2025, I’ve been quite busy of late. My colleagues from the RH2025 Committee and I have been using the last couple months to incorporate feedback from faculty and other campus stakeholders into the next version of our strategic visioning document.
The process has never been easy, but has been an interesting way to engage the entire campus community. Over the past year, the steering committee has been taking in, considering, and representing input that, at times, is in direct conflict. Fortunately, we live and work in an intellectual community, in which the debate from various positions happens with good faith and goodwill.
The spirited discussion and debates are reflected in the latest draft language. And the results are better because of the debate. Check out the updated RH2025 website!
As we end the calendar year and prepare for our winter break pause between both traditional semesters and six-week terms, I thank you. I thank you for your dedication to this world of ideas. I thank you for modeling the attitude for our students that knowledge and ideas do matter.
As the son of a high school teacher, I am happy to be from a family of teachers. I’m happier still to be part of our community of teachers. It’s been a remarkable year for us and our students. After we wrap this term up and you have a restful break, let’s be ready to plan our strategies for revering, sharing, and living our best ideas.
Mark Schaub signature

Mark Schaub
Dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

End of Semester Reminders

LIFT student evaluation surveys will be available to students during the last two weeks of the semester. To encourage high response rates, instructors are expected to set aside 15 minutes of class time for students to complete the surveys. More information about the LIFT system, including short videos that can be shown in class, can be found at gvsu.edu/lift.
Examination Week is December 13 - 18. As outlined in Shared Governance Policies, faculty should hold a culminating experience for each course they teach during the scheduled examination week. Final exam information is available on the Registrar's website.

Reach Higher 2025 Huddles on Dec. 10 & 16

The Reach Higher 2025 steering committee invites you to a discussion of the latest drafts of the values, vision, mission, and strategy statements. We are eager to share some of the improvements we’ve made and to hear your reactions and solicit your input. All GVSU faculty, staff, and students are invited to participate in the huddles on Friday, December 10 at 10:00 a.m. and Thursday, December 16 at 1:00 p.m. Please RSVP to receive the Zoom link.

Extended Winter Break and Vacation Rollover

President Mantella has extended this year's Winter break. The campus will close on December 23 through and including January 3, providing an additional day off on each side of the scheduled break. All university buildings will be closed during this time, and employees will be paid without impacting any leave accruals. Human Resources also announced the opportunity to carry over vacation time:
  • 2021 rollover for January 2022: a maximum of 300 hour
  • 2022 rollover for January 2023: a maximum of 250 hour
  • 2023 rollover for 2024: a maximum of 200 hours, which is standard
Brooks Winter 2022 (Re)Start Meeting
All Brooks College faculty and staff are invited to the Winter 2022 (Re)Start Meeting on Friday, January 21, 2022, 8:45 - 11:30 a.m. The event will be held in person in the Kirkhof Center, room 2204 (Pere Marquette). The schedule will include student presentations, updates on advising and sustainability, remarks from Dean Schaub and Associate Dean Shell-Weiss, and a Q&A. Breakfast will be provided. Please RSVP by January 13.

University Service Awards

Congratulations to all the 2021 Service Award Recipients! We'd like to honor the following Brooks College colleagues who have reached a milestone in their years of service to the University.
25 Years of Service
  • C. "Griff" Griffin, General Education and Biology
20 Years of Service:
  • Lisa Gullo, Meijer Center for Writing
  • Kin Ma, Area and Global Studies and Geography & Sustainable Planning
  • Kate Stoetzner, Padnos International Center
  • Vicki Wenger, Padnos International Center
15 Years of Service:
  • Danielle DeMuth, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Thomas Haas, President Emeritus, Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies
  • Richard Yidana, Area and Global Studies and Sociology
10 Years of Service:
  • Patrick Johnson, Meijer Center for Writing
  • Lisa Perhamus, Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Center and College of Education
  • Melanie Shell-Weiss, Brooks College Dean's Office
  • Troy VanKoevering, Office of Sustainability Practices
  • Joel Wendland-Liu, Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies
  • Karen Zivi, Human Rights and Meijer Honors College
Malia Kah headshot

Malia Kah Shares About Semester in Detroit

Malia Kah is in her last year at GVSU studying Global Studies and Social Impact. This fall, Malia is participating in Semester in Detroit (SiD), an immersive program in which students live, learn, and work within Detroit for one semester. GVSU partners with the University of Michigan to send Lakers to join the fall cohort. We spoke with Malia to hear a bit about her experience with SiD.
How did living in the city of Detroit shape your experience?
Living in Detroit was especially immersive and an important experience for me. Classes are centered around major topics in Detroit, so living here and taking classes in this city really opened [my] eyes to things not many people would expect or notice. I felt instantly welcomed in the city of Detroit. It may be a big city but it truly does feel like a small town. That really surprised me.
Could you tell us about your internship?
I am interning at HOPE Village Revitalization (HVR), a community nonprofit in the Hope Village neighborhood. HVR is an all-female organization that aims to create a sustainable, safe, and healthy neighborhood for its citizens. While they do quite a lot for their neighborhood, I’m specifically there to help with their local farmers' market and data collection/analysis. Data collection and analysis was new to me but the atmosphere at HVR is incredibly positive and supportive that learning this new skill was enjoyable. It didn't take long for me to feel comfortable with my position. Each project was a new challenge, and the women at HVR showed how appreciative and proud they were [of me]. This was something I was really thankful for because there tends to be a feeling of isolation within student internships, and I never felt that here.
Malia Kah and one of her internship supervisors at the Hope Village Revitalization home offices.
Malia with her internship supervisor at the HVR home offices.
Have you changed as a result of your experience?
I have changed quite a lot from this experience. Not only have I been able to see firsthand some of the institutional issues and societal inequalities in our country, but I have had the opportunity to see how people go about creating change. It has inspired me to go out and find like-minded people who know more than me, and to listen. It has shown me that I truly do want a life where I am helping communities become stronger. Overall, I would say it has also made me a more confident person who knows myself better than before coming here. Something this program is especially strong on is mental health. Learning about the challenges in our world, especially in college, can be emotionally and mentally heavy. This program was a safe place for all of us to talk and reflect on what we were learning, and I will leave this program having skills that I didn't even expect to gain.
SiD focuses on three principles: respect, solidarity, and justice. How did you experience these during the program?
This whole experience has displayed the SiD principles of respect, solidarity, and justice. From the courses and internships to just connecting with people who are different from me in my cohort. You learn to get comfortable with getting uncomfortable about certain topics and discussions. You see how institutional problems are affecting the areas of your internship and in Detroit, and you see how activism and history tie into why people are and have been banding together to create change. The themes of SiD are incredibly prevalent in every experience you have and that is most likely why I have changed as a student and as a person. I encourage everyone to consider SiD, you will have a wonderful time, learn a lot, and look back happy that you did. I know I am!

Design Thinking Class Partners with Ducks Unlimited to Promote Sustainable Agriculture

Darien Ripple, assistant professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies, has partnered with the national nonprofit organization Ducks Unlimited to focus on the role wetland habitats play in agricultural sustainability.
Ripple said three teams of students in his Fall Semester "Design Thinking to Meet Real-World Needs" course are brainstorming ideas and creating project briefs aimed at engaging more farmers to create wetlands and healthy ecosystems on their farms.
He said farmers who have infield wetlands usually find that acreage difficult to plant and harvest. Ducks Unlimited and other entities could agree to provide incentives to farmers who turn over portions of their acreage to wetlands. Read more in the GVSU Forum.
Craig Benjamin headshot

Craig Benjamin Received Emeritus Status

Craig Benjamin, retired professor of history in the Meijer Honors College, has been awarded emeritus status from Grand Valley.
Craig joined the History Department in 2003 and moved to the Honors College in 2012. In Honors, he taught regularly in the Big History and East Asia first-year interdisciplinary sequences as well as the "Live Learn Lead" course. Craig has authored or co-authored three books, edited or co-edited six books, and published dozens of articles, chapters, and encyclopedia entries. Last spring, Craig retired from GVSU and moved to Australia to be closer to family.

Amanda Buday Helps Natural Resource Management Community Partners Collect Key Social Science Data for Projects

As officials with the Ottawa Conservation District began developing a management plan for the Pigeon River watershed southwest of Allendale, they turned to a Grand Valley sociologist to help collect crucial data.
Amanda Buday, assistant professor of sociology and environmental and sustainability studies, specializes in community-based efforts to protect natural resources. How she describes her role: Addressing the human dimensions of natural resource management.
And as Ottawa Conservation District officials work on finalizing a watershed plan to submit to the state — which they hope will open the door to funds for managing that area — they are relying on insight from the work Buday led to understand what residents know about the watershed, how they use it and what they know about potential threats. Read more on GVNext.

David Sinn Brings Research Experience from Tasmania to Brooks College

David Sinn brings varied research and travel experiences to his role as visiting professor of environmental and sustainability studies in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies.
Sinn, who is a trained ecologist, has a bachelor's degree in biology, a master's degree in psychology and a doctorate in aquaculture and plant science. He called Brooks College an environment where interdisciplinary research is valued, and learning is based on a growth mindset.
“I feel like I can contribute to Brooks through my community involvement and my no-nonsense approach to research. I love collaboration, and I feel like my diverse background fits in well with the other faculty and staff,” Sinn said.
Before coming to Grand Valley, Sinn lived in the Australian island state of Tasmania for almost 20 years. Sinn received a scholarship from the government to pursue a doctoral degree in Australia. Read more in the GVSU Forum.

Finals Week Gift Bags for WGS Students

Randee and Sammie, student colleagues in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS) office, decorate gift bags for WGS students. The bags are filled with snacks, treats, and stress relief items to encourage students during finals week.


Congratulations to the following Brooks College faculty, staff, and students, who presented at the 9th Annual GVSU Teach-In: Krista Benson, Nicole Brower, David Coffey, Aubrey Dull, Sam Johnson, Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, Kimberly McKee, Maddy Miller, and Lisa Perhamus.
Grand Valley was recognized as a top performer in the 2021 Sustainable Campus Index by AASHE, with a gold STARS rating of 74.9, up from 70.8 in 2019. Congratulations to the Office of Sustainability Practices on their efforts and commitment to sustainability.
GVSU President Emeritus Thomas J. Haas was honored for his military service and leadership on November 19 when he was inducted into the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor.
Kimberly McKee, associate professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies, was interviewed by the Christian Science Monitor for a story about the Netflix documentary, "Found," which follows American teens adopted from China. Kim was also interviewed by mic.com about her contribution to YELL-Oh Girls!, an edited collection that came out 20 years ago and is one of the only collections featuring the voices of young adult Asian American girls and women.
Anthony Meyer, affiliate professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies, gave a talk, "Urbanizing Jews: Agriculture, Slave Codes, and the Byzantine Empire," at the 33rd Annual Symposium on Jewish Civilization at Creighton University in October.
Crystal Scott-Tunstall, affiliate professor of environmental and sustainability studies, was named Sustainable Educator of the Year by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.


December 8: COVID-19, Testimony of Global Health in Recent Times with Azizur Molla
December 10 & 16: Reach Higher 2025 Campus Community Huddles
January 21: Brooks College Winter 2022 (Re)Start Meeting
February 22: Meijer Lecture with Cascade Engineering President and CEO Christina Keller
March 23: Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Symposium
March 29: 2022 Mosaic Lecture with Dr. Mariel Vazquez, Professor of Mathematics at UC Davis

Faculty Calendar

December 11: Classes end and Commencement
December 13-18: Final exams
December 18: Semester ends

December 21: Grades due from faculty by 12:00 pm
December 23 - January 3: Winter break
January 10: Classes begin
February 8: Faculty Awards Convocation
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