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

       Dean's Message

"Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception."                                             

            -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Among the multiple privileges from which I’ve benefited is the fact that I’ve enjoyed a string of remarkable supervisors, advisors, or deans to provide exceptional and essential mentorship. Dawn Jax Belleau. Sarah Bagby. Cynthia Nelson. Janice Lauer. Wendy Wenner. Anne Hiskes. Gayle Davis. These are just a handful of the dozen or so women over the years who served as mentors and guides in my personal and professional journey. I would not have lived abroad, or have a PhD or even a master’s degree without them. I certainly would not have ended up as dean of a college without them.

What is noteworthy, perhaps, is the fact that the overwhelming majority of my advisors and supervisors over the past three decades have been women. Noteworthy in that I may represent the first generation of men in academic leadership who can say that. I really don’t think that was true of men who came before me, and may not even be true for other men of my generation.

If true, that alone is worth acknowledging and celebrating. Likewise, the changes we’ve seen here at Grand Valley State University over my 23 years here are worth acknowledging and celebrating.

As well-run as it was, GVSU indeed had the feel of an “old boy’s club” when I arrived as a new tenure-track faculty member in English, teaching my first course—on the Holland campus—in June 1999. I recall Wendy Wenner being the first female AVP in Zumberge Hall, and Pat Oldt as the first female SLT member. Today, seven of GVSU’s nine deans are women. And our next provost will be the third female provost at GVSU, not some historic first. No doubt, GVSU is a far better institution because of these changes. No doubt, I’m better for these changes, too. 
Mark Schaub signature

Mark Schaub
Dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Save the Date: Start-up Meeting on August 19
The Brooks College Fall 2022 Start-up Meeting is scheduled for Friday, August 19, 2022!
The event will begin in the morning, and be held in downtown Grand Rapids.
Further details and RSVP to follow.

Congratulations to the Winter Class of 2022!

At the close of the Winter 2022 semester, Brooks College had a total of 91 students graduate from Brooks College programs, and 201 students graduate from Frederik Meijer Honors College, for a total of 301 graduates! Lifelong Educational Attainment for Determined Students (LEADS) led the Brooks College programs for total number of graduates, with 27. Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ENS) came in a close second with 26 graduates. There were also 19 Integrative Studies (also known as Integrative, Religious and Intercultural Studies or IRIS) graduates, 8 Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) graduates, 7 Social Innovation (SI) graduates (Master of Arts), and 4 Global Studies and Social Impact (GSI) graduates. Congratulations to the Winter Class of 2022!  
GVSU Graduate

IRIS Winter 2022 Senior Showcase

The Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies (IRIS) Winter 2022 Senior Showcase was held virtually on Thursday, April 28. The goal of this event, which is held twice annually at the end of Fall and Winter semesters, is to give graduating Integrative Studies majors an opportunity to share their senior project research with peers, loved ones, and GVSU faculty, staff, and administrators. With this in mind, the students chose topics centered around issues with which they were personally concerned. Opening and closing remarks were given by Dean Mark Schaub. A big round of applause for our IRIS seniors!  
"Plastic Pandemic," by Megan Oleszkowicz, featured an emotionally compelling video she created to illustrate the history of plastic, its rapid rise to the standard for many containers worldwide, and what the world and life will become in the future as every corner of our world becomes more polluted with plastic trash. 
"Rejuvenating the Deserts: An Analysis of Food Insecurities and Access in Detroit," by Isaac Dedenbach, examined how residents living in the city of Detroit have struggled with gaining access to fresh foods, and the steps that have been taken to help this issue, such as the wide planting of city community gardens to provide fresh local produce to residents. 
"Toxic Masculinity, as Seen on TV!" by Cassidy Garcia, examined commercials and TV culture to illustrate how pervasive toxic masculinity is in our culture, and how men are discouraged and even ridiculed for showing emotion on a regular basis in popular media culture.  
"Why College Athletes Should Get Paid," by Jordan Harris, was an honest look at how college athletes struggle to manage their academic workload while maintaining a rigorous athletic schedule that often includes nearly 40 hours per week of physical training and practice. The time commitment involved often leaves them unable to work in a traditional job, and can lead to financial hardship for college athletes.
"Decolonizing Sustainability," by Jade Phillips, explored the often overlooked fact that Indigenous people are the original inhabitants of the United States, and have a long history of being wise stewards of land and life. Indigenous people have been largely left out of the dialogue around how to approach true sustainability in the United States, but they possess ancestral knowledge and wisdom that would be valuable to these efforts.
"Discover Wellness Through Mushroom Medicine:  A Natural Approach to Healing," by Lily Mercer, explored the modern research surrounding the healing properties of various types of mushrooms, and their ability to improve a variety of different health conditions.  
The presentations were followed by the announcement of the 2022 IRIS Award winners:
The Wendy J. Wenner Thesis Award was presented to Melinda Stein for her thesis "Lady and the Linguist: Language Ideology Shifts in the Land of Ooo."  Melinda examined the positive trend toward more diversity and acceptance in shows for young audiences, leading to a crucial early integration in our culture of many different languages and cultures in the world. She explained that this helps to eliminate stereotypes and move toward the normalization of language diversity. Melinda's thesis integrated knowledge from across academic disciplines, and was an outstanding example of interdisciplinary work. Congratulations, Melinda!
The Stanley Krohmer Senior Project Award was presented to Heather Brewer for her project "Writing Diverse and Inclusive Narrative Fiction."  Heather examined what it truly means to write diverse and inclusive narrative fiction. She explained that when she initially published her novel, We Are Wanderers, she steered away from initially giving her characters diverse backgrounds and descriptions, because she feared that it would be perceived as cultural appropriation. Her work explored how she revised her novel to incorporate a diverse and inclusive cast. This unique and highly personal project demonstrated how authors can ethically and responsibly incorporate diverse representation in order to increase awareness, promote empathy and unity, and provide a better understanding of world issues. Congratulations, Heather!
GVSU Sustainable Agriculture Project Farm Stand
Farmers Market to reopen for 2022 season, featuring the Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP)

The Office of Sustainability Practices is excited to announce that the GVSU Farmers Market will return on June 8, 2022! Opening day will bring new vendors, the second annual Faculty & Staff 2 Mile Run/Walk with GVPD, and a renewed sense of community to campus. The GVSU Farm Stand will be at the clocktower every Wednesday. The full 2022 Farmers Market will be held once a month in parking lot G; see the GVSU Farmers Market website for details and future dates.
You can also sign up for a Farm Share to receive a weekly box of fresh produce grown by the hard working team at the SAP farm! This is a great way to support a good cause while also saving money on produce and buying locally. The boxes can be picked up each week at the farm stand or at the SAP farm on Luce Street. You can also have your box delivered for a $5 delivery fee.  
The SAP also supplies Campus Dining with fresh produce, and during the growing season, Campus Dining comes to the Farmer's Market to sell lunches assembled using this fresh produce. Feel free to swing by on market day to get a fresh, nutritious lunch!  
More Opportunities to support the Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP)
The SAP has community garden plots available for students, staff, and faculty to grow their own produce. The soil and fertilizer for each plot is provided by the SAP, and each plot is self-managed by whoever reserves the plot for that season. One plot is $25, or you can reserve two plots for $40. This is an excellent way for the GVSU community to source their own produce, and it also supports the SAP.  
There are also volunteer hours open to all, to help at the SAP on Luce Street every Friday afternoon, beginning at 12 pm, with more volunteer days opening in the summer (dates to be determined). This is a valuable opportunity to experience sustainable agriculture in action, and learn from Farm Manager and Educator Michael Hinkle and his crew.  
Volunteer at the SAP

13th Annual Local History Roundtable

The 13th Annual Local History Roundtable was held on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, on the GVSU Allendale campus. This year's theme, "Living with History," explored direct ways that the present informs how we talk about the past, emphasizing how we might bring history out beyond the walls of our institutions. Opening remarks were provided by Dean Mark Schaub. You can view the recordings of the program sessions on the Kutsche Office of Local History's YouTube channel.  
13th Annual Local History Roundtable event

Culture and Environmental Sustainability Meet and Greet

On Friday, April 15, the Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP) on Luce Street hosted a meet and greet with community leader Jewellynne Richardson, founder of West Michigan Jewels of Africa. Jewellynne is the creator of the Grand Rapids Juneteenth Celebration, and one of this year's WOOD-TV's Remarkable Women of West Michigan. She shared the history of Juneteenth with GVSU students during the community volunteer hours at the SAP farm, and encouraged them to address environmental justice while celebrating Juneteenth and community.  
Jewellynne Richardson sharing the history of Juneteenth with GVSU students
Jewellynne Richardson speaking

Global Studies & Social Impact Senior Showcase

On Monday, April 11, the Senior Showcase was held at the Kirkof Center. Attendees enjoyed free pizza and drinks while the seniors of the Global Studies & Social Impact (GSI) program presented their capstone work. Presentation topics included racism and migrant labor in industrial agriculture, whiteness and non-profits in the developing world, neoliberalism and factories in the global south, gendered narratives about work, renewable energy politics, and race, gender, and women's sports.  
The presentations offered many interesting insights. For example, did you know that the migrant labor force in the US is made up of an estimated 49,000 migrant farmworkers, who add an estimated $11.2 billion in value to our economy? Without these workers, our economy would be significantly impacted, yet they are extremely underrepresented in the programs and awareness events that seek to promote American Agriculture.
The presentations concluded with an open Q&A session, where attendees were able to ask questions of the students, and it invited intriguing discussions about the topics covered. The students were able to give feedback to the attendees about why they loved their GSI courses and the valuable experiences these courses provided to them. 
The students shared that they were able to feel true optimism for the future of global issues, as they discovered all of the people who are actively working toward positive and inclusive change. They also felt they will be better global citizens as a result of their exposure to these different perspectives during their coursework. Their passion was on full display as they presented their topics and responded to the questions. A big round of applause goes to our GSI Seniors for their hard work!  
GSI students present their capstone work
GSI students present their capstone work 2

Faculty and Staff Updates
Ellen Schendel, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, has accepted a position with Bowling Green State University as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.  Ellen previously served as Associate Dean of Brooks College, and Acting Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  A farewell reception will be held in her honor in the Kirkhof Center's Pere Marquette Room on Friday, May 13, from 2 - 4 pm.


Crystal Scott-Tunstall, professor of Environmental and Sustainability Studies, has been named as a co-chair for the Kent County Food Policy Council.  "The change I would like to see in our food system is more diversity in leadership," said Professor Scott-Tunstall.  "Representation is key to building awareness around food issues."
Kurt Ellenberger, professor of music in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, has published an article titled "Music and Evolution: Hearing math, seeing sound, and other unanswered questions", on  This work features over a year of intensive research, with interdisciplinary assistance from Ed Aboufadel and Jerry Scripps.  
Azfar Hussain, Interim Director of the Graduate Program in Social Innovation and Associate Professor of IRIS, has been offered a Summer Distinguished Professorship of English and Humanities at the University of Liberal Arts-Bangladesh (ULAB), where he will be teaching a graduate seminar on contemporary literary and cultural theory in addition to an undergraduate course. Hussain delivered a special lecture titled “Culture and Political Economy: Some Questions and Concerns” at an interdisciplinary social media platform called Praxis on April 17, 2022; he also authored a public piece on Shakespeare called “Shakespeare—Our Contemporary in the Time of Coronavirus” that appeared in both print and online in April 2022. 


Jack Mangala, professor of African/African American Studies and Chair of Global Studies and Social Impact, is engaged to be married to Jackie Turcotte, following their recent vacation to Utah. Jackie is a fifth grade teacher with Forest Hills Public Schools. 
Congratulations to Jack and Jackie!

Jack Mangala and his fiance Jackie Turcotte


Faculty Calendar

May 30: Memorial Day recess

June 27: Grades Due from Faculty

July 4: Independence Day Recess

August 15: Grades Due from Faculty

August 17: Cohort Startup and Mentoring

August 18: New Faculty/Staff Welcome Picnic

August 19: Brooks College Startup Meeting

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