August 2022 Newsletter
August 2022 Newsletter
Grand Valley State University
Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies Newsletter June 2022
Headshot of Mark Schaub, Dean of Brooks College

       Dean's Message

Birds don’t make a plan to migrate, raising resources to fund their way. . . They feel a call in their bodies that they must go, and they follow it, responding to each other, each bringing their adaptations. 

-excerpt from Emergent Strategy, by adrienne maree brown

GVSU’s football team has for years operated with their own internal motto, #WAWG. This year, that hashtag is affixed to the back of their protective headgear. The phrase drives the program and serves as a reminder to the team that during the game, the fans or coaches—supportive as they are—are not the ones out there actually making the effort. In those moments of competition, or difficulty, the student-athletes out there know that it’s up to them: “We all we got.”

For the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, we certainly have our supporters! The institution entrusts many base-funded positions and millions of student tuition dollars to support our mission. Donors have endowed many of our offices, programs, or scholarships to advance educational opportunities. Our partners across the institution and in the community are eager to help us help individual students succeed. But at the same time, it’s up to us. When we’re preparing class activities or assignments, we as faculty are expected to bring to bear our experience and our expertise to create the best situations for learning. When we’re advising a student on anything, we represent the network of support for that student, and it’s up to us to help as best we can, and to connect that student to additional support resources.

The forces of the ever-evolving COVID pandemic, demographic changes that affect enrollment, and shifting economic winds—these are things largely out of our control. But we have lots we can control. We shape our curriculum. We have voice and representation in faculty governance and decision-making committees. We have autonomy in designing interesting classes and assignments and high-impact learning activities.  We have each other.
We all we got. But what we got is a lot.

Mark Schaub signature

Mark Schaub
Dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Start-up Meeting on August 19
The Brooks College Fall 2022 Start-up Meeting is scheduled for Friday, August 19, 2022! The event will be held at Loosemore Auditorium & Hager-Lubbers Exhibition Hall in the Richard M. DeVos Center. Breakfast will be served from 8:00 - 8:30 am, and the program will follow from 9:00 - 11:30 am. We look forward to seeing you there to kick off a great year!  

Farmer's Market

Craving fresh produce? Late summer produce from the Sustainable Agriculture Project is coming in and looking spectacular! The Farmer's Market remaining dates are August 10, September 14, and October 12. The GVSU Farm Stand will be at the clocktower every Wednesday from 10:00 am - 1:00 pm, with the exception of the dates they will be at the market.
Farmers Market season
Farmers Market season

Brooks Bash Weed & Feed

A big thank you to all who came out to our first Brooks Bash, Weed & Feed! We had a great time learning more about the Sustainable Agriculture Project operations from farm manager and educator Michael Hinkle. We helped to weed the open garden beds, and then enjoyed some delicious pizza. It was a beautiful afternoon out at the farm. A special thank you to Yumi Jakobcic, Michael Hinkle and their awesome farm staff for hosting!  
If you would like to host a Brooks Bash this year, please reach out to Maureen Strand in the Dean's office.  
Mary Williford and her daughter Melanie Shell-Weiss listening to the farm tour Michael Hinkle giving tour of SAP farm
weeding the farm Weeding the farm weeding the farm
farm veggies SAP farm greenhouse SAP greenhouse in full bloom

Beaver Island Field School

During the Spring/Summer semester, the Enivornmental and Sustainability Studies program offers a unique immersive interdisciplinary experience called the Beaver Island Field School. This 3 credit course offers students a chance to camp for a week on historic Beaver Island, a 54-square-mile island located in the middle of northern Lake Michigan.  The course begins with an in-person orientation meeting. The students then spend a week absorbing key background readings and preparing individual learning plans to follow during their stay on the island. Following their trip, they prepare final projects for presentation.  
Courtney Allen standing on a large rock on Beaver Island

"The week I spent on Beaver Island for the ENS Field School was incredibly meaningful. It was a truly mutual learning experience, unlike anything I have been a part of before. Situated on a sandy bay on the east side of the island, the CMU Biostation is a wonder! The folks Professor Kelly connected us to were an inspirational reminder that our work matters, even when it's against tall odds. We were a group of strangers the morning we left GV but quickly became a community through the sharing of knowledge, culture, wrong turns, campfires, trauma, and healing. I won't lie, after the trip I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. This adventure will resonate with me for many years to come and I can't wait to visit again next year as alumni! " - ENS student Courtney Allen

Read more about the field school in our latest Brooks College Spotlight, featuring a detailed article from Professor Kelly Parker. You can also check out the feature on the field school on GV Next!  
Beaver Island 2022 Group Photo
students on Beaver Island studying the landscape

Faculty Learning Community 2022-2023 features two Brooks College Faculty members

Two of our very own Brooks College Faculty members will be facilitating FLC groups this year. Darien Ripple, assistant professor of integrative, religious, and intercultural studies (IRIS), will be leading "The Real World of College" FLC in Fall 2022. Krista Benson, also an assistant professor of IRIS, will be leading the "Abolitionist Pedagogy as Inclusive Pedagogy" FLC in Winter 2023. You can learn more and sign up to participant in a community at the Pew Faculty Teaching and Learning Center website. Below are the summaries for each FLC. Sign up to get engaged with your faculty community and enhance your perspectives!  
"The Real World of College" Fall 2022
How might we reimagine a higher education culture in which students are less stressed out over grades while discovering the transformative experience of learning in relation to their lives?
This faculty learning community will be invited to examine how The Real World of College: What Higher Education Is and What It Can Be, by Wendy Fischman & Howard Gardner, relates to the Grand Valley State University experience. Faculty participants will be challenged to consider ways in which they might be more intentional about teaching and learning, specifically in promoting a university community that is open to change. Additional areas of focus will include rethinking how mental models of learning align with students' goals with respect to perceived ideas of academic rigor in relation to grades, belonging, future careers, and mental health.
"Abolitionist Pedagogy as Inclusive Pedagogy" Winter 2023
How might we address the punitive and carceral structures common in teaching and higher education by considering different abolitionist strategies and pedagogies?
In light of the challenges of teaching in the middle of a global, ongoing pandemic, many academics find ourselves knowing that we need to change- sometimes for our own good and sometimes for the good of our students. In this FLC, we will explore many of the norms of conventional education which is complicit in and maintains systemic racism and settler colonization, which Bettina Love calls the "educational survival complex." To attain and encourage what Love refers to as "educational freedom," this FLC will use Love's book, We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist  Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom, among other resources to explore how to approach educational freedom from an anti-racist, anti-colored lens, emphasizing the lessons that can be learned from abolitionist activism and policy as applied to abolitionist pedagogies. 

Honors College releases annual report

The Frederik Meijer Honors College has published its 2022 annual report. The report covers many aspects of the Honors College, including how the college implemented the lessons learned during the pandemic to bring about a new start, their continuing efforts to achieve diversity and excellence, features of students, and an update on their new cohort building. Check it out to see all of the excellent progress!

The Three Fires Teaching Lodge

The Three Fires Teaching Lodge was built at the Sustainable Agriculture Project on June 25th and 26th. This lodge is the first of its kind at a public university in Michigan. This project began in Dr. Riley Mukavetz's course, Anishinaabeg Lifeways, when she asked students how they can make Indigenous space and support Indigenous sovereignty while being a part of an institution. Students collaborated on writing a proposal and sought funding to make this lodge a reality.
This lodge and the gardens are designed to make Indigenous space that supports the education and cultural continuance of Indigenous community members off and on campus. Students, alumni, community members, faculty, and staff from GVSU, GRCC, and Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College put in over 20 hours of work to harvest saplings and build the lodge.
This teaching lodge will be managed by the Native American Student Association and the Native American Advisory Council. Special acknowledgement goes to IRIS alumni Braxtyn Lipponen and Natasha Stewart, as well as ENS students Angela Haan and Eryn Hyma, and Jacob Klanke (Anthro/Art History) who served as research assistants, advisors, and interns on this project. 
To read more, check out this local article feature about the process of contructing the lodge!    
the three fires teaching lodge group photo
students building the lodge
the lodge halfway complete
the lodge completed near sunset

Social Innovation Masters Program moving to CECI

The Professional Master of Social Innovation (PMASI) program is moving to the College of Education and Community Innovation (CECI) as of the 2022/2023 academic year. It will be housed under the Public, Nonprofit, and Health Administration programs.  

Unit Head Reminder:  Waitlist Feature

Please remember the new waitlist feature that is enabled in Banner and refrain from approving closed class permits for students except under truly exceptional circumstances. Instead, please encourage students who request closed course permits to add themselves to the waitlist for courses that are full. More info on the waitlists can be found on the Registrar’s website.

New Faculty/Staff Introductions

Cluster Hire Faculty

We have an exciting group of new additions to our Faculty for the 2022/2023 academic year. Brooks College is proud to introduce the six colleagues who are joining us following our search for a cluster hire of new faculty. Their fresh perspectives and diverse, impressive backgrounds will be a great asset to our environment here at GVSU!
Joseph DeLeon

Joseph DeLeon

Joseph (Joe) joins our faculty to teach in Digital Studies and Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies. Previously, he was a visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, Film, and Theatre at Allegheny College. In 2021, he completed his PhD in Film, Television, and Media from the University of Michigan with graduate certificates in Science, Technology, and Society and in teaching. His dissertation was called, “Social Media at the Margins: Crafting Community Media Before the Web.” His Bachelor’s degree was earned with high honors from the Departments of French and Comparative Literature and Politics from Michigan State University, with a minor in Japanese.
Ta'les Love

Ta'les Love

Ta’les Love will teach in African/African American Studies, Digital Studies, and Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies. She recently completed her PhD in Communication and Media with a Graduate Certificate in Afro-American & African Studies at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation focused on “Black Women as Cultural Leaders: The Intersections of Beauty, Media Production, and Labor in the Digital Age.” She holds a Master of Arts in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she was a McNair Research Scholar.
Her research areas span television and cultural studies, race and representation, black feminism and intersectionality studies, critical race theory, and qualitative research methods, among others.
Jakia Marie

Jakia Marie

Jakia Marie joins the African/African American Studies and Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies faculty after her work as an assistant professor of Sociology and Acting Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Bellarmine University. She earned her PhD in Pan-African Studies and a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Louisville in 2019. Dr. Marie also holds a Master of Education in College Student Affairs Leadership from Grand Valley. She completed her Bachelor of Arts here in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, earning her BA in Liberal Studies (now Integrative Studies).
Her research interests include race ethnicity with an emphasis in Cultural Identity, Immigration, and International Education; and Identity Development and Experiences of Minoritized Students in Higher Education.
Steven Nathaniel

Steven Nathaniel

Steven Nathaniel will teach in African/African American Studies, Digital Studies, and Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies. He was a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of English at Indiana University, Bloomington. He holds a PhD in English Language and Literature from Indiana University (completed last year), a Master of Arts in English Literature from Eastern Illinois University (2015), and a Bachelor of Arts in Mechanical Engineering and English Literature from the University of Dayton. His dissertation was entitled, “Inaudible Modernism: Techno-Aesthetic Listening in Literature and Film.” It explored the relationship between auditory technologies and representations of listening in modernist literature and film.
Ramya Swayamprakash

Ramya Swayamprakash

Ramya Swayamprakash joins our faculty to teach in Digital Studies, Environmental and Sustainability Studies, and Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies. She recently completed her PhD in History at Michigan State University. Her dissertation focused on “Freshwater Frontier: Island Making, Dredging, and Infrastructure in the Detroit River, 1865-1935.” She also holds a Master of Urban Design from Laurence Technological University and two Master’s degrees from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi: a Master of Philosophy from the Center for Studies in Science Policy and a Master of Arts from the Center for Political Studies. She received a Bachelor of Mass Media from the University of Mumbai, specializing in Journalism.
Her interdisciplinary training also includes immersive visualization, summer training in Digital Methods for Cultural Studies through the University of Pennsylvania, and a postgraduate diploma in Environmental Law from the Indian Law Institute.
Becky Williams

Becky Williams

Becky Williams joins the Area and Global Studies, Environmental and Sustainability Studies, and Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies faculty. Previously, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida at Gainesville. She earned her PhD in Interdisciplinary Ecology, concentrating in Tropical Conservation and Development from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in Gender and Development. She also holds a MS in Instructional Systems Design from Florida State University and has worked as an Environmental Educator Extensionist with the Peace Corps in Honduras in addition to carrying out grant-supported work in a range of other international locations in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. She holds a BS in Music Education from Stetson University.

Visiting Faculty

Skylar Bre'z

Skylar Bre'z

Skylar Bre'z joins the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program as a visiting professor. She earned her PhD in History at Western Michigan University. Her dissertation was entitled, "Women's History Month: examining the intersections of feminist activism, politics and equity education measures on the presentation of women in history. Dr. Bre'z also holds a Master of History degree from Western Michigan University and a Master of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies degree from Ohio State University. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Creative Writing and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Western Michigan University. She has been an adjunct professor of Womens Studies and History at Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Previously, she was also an adjunct professor at Olivet College. Her research interests include oral history and library database research related to Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. 


Brian Trager

Brian Trager

Brian Trager has been promoted to a permanent position as an academic advisor with the Brooks College Advising Center. Congratulations, Brian! 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 National Orientation Director’s Association Intern at Winthrop University in South Carolina. Brian is passionate about supporting students throughout their journey in college. 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. 
Ricky Benavidez, adjunct professor in the IRIS department, was recognized by the Grand Rapids Business Journal as one of the top 40 under 40 business leaders in the community. Congratulations, Ricky!  Outstanding!  
Faculty and Staff Updates
David Sinn, visiting professor of Environmental and Sustainability Studies, has resigned his position to pursue other opportunities. We appreciate his valuable contribution, and wish him all the best in the future!  
Justine Kibet will be transitioning to the role of the PSS coordinator for the Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse beginning in the 2022/2023 academic year, as the social innovation program transitioned to CECI and she will no longer be involved with that program. She will also remain the academic coordinator for the Environmental and Sustainability program.  Cheers to new adventures for Justine!


August 18: New Faculty/Staff Welcome Dinner 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
August 19: Brooks College Fall 2022 Startup Meeting 8:00 am - 11:30 am
September 8: ENS Fall Kickoff Social 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
September 14: Farmer's Market 10:30 am - 1:00 pm

Faculty Calendar

August 15: Grades Due from Faculty

August 17: Cohort Startup and Mentoring 
11:30 am - 3:00 pm

August 26: Convocation

August 29: Fall semester classes begin

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