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Grand Valley State University

Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Message from the Dean
The recent media focus on the Chicago Cubs and the 1989 film Back to the Future 2 transported me back in time to thinking about time travel and the early 1980’s when my physics colleague and I made the rounds giving talks on time travel, he on the physics of time travel and me on the philosophy of time travel. In the movie, Marty McFly and his zany inventor friend Doc Brown travel 30 years into their future in Doc’s DeLaurean time machine to October 21, 2015, hoping to prevent Marty’s son from going to prison and ruining his life. In the imagined version of October 21, 2015, the Chicago Cubs win the World Series, cars fly, skate boards hover, Nike shoes lace themselves, and drones populate the skies. However, changing the future also changes the past, thus requiring Marty and Doc to go back to the 1950’s for a second time to restore the reality of the 1985 that Marty and Doc remember. 
As we engage in strategic planning in Brooks College, we might wish for something like Doc’s time machine that would enable us to visit the future 10 or 20 years from now. Travel to the future could reduce the uncertainty and risk in strategic planning, and save time and money by guiding  program development, informing us of effective strategies in enhancing student success and diversity, and providing insights on faculty and staff hiring. Though time travel as depicted isn’t physically possible, the movie succeeds in realistically depicting the inextricable links between the past, present, and future, and thus the connections between our strategic decisions and actions as faculty and staff and the future of the College and the University. What we and others plan and implement today shape the Brooks College and GVSU of the future, sometimes with seemingly insignificant decisions or actions having unpredictable, far-ranging effects. If we want to change the future, we need to be intentional about changing the present. 
Without recourse to a time machine, how can we successfully plan and shape a desirable future for Brooks College in a world of uncertainty? Back to the Future 2 provides some guidance here as well when we consider components of the imagined version of 2015. The film accurately predicts the use of drones, biometric identification, and real face-time technologies even though these devices did not yet exist when the movie was made in 1989. Up-to-date knowledge of societal and technological cultures and relevant content areas, coupled with imagination and expert skills, enabled the screen-writers (i.e., Brooks College strategic planners) to envision a realistic future, and the inventors (i.e., Brooks College faculty, staff, and students) to make it so. Even though self-lacing shoes and hover boards still do not exist, the vision of these devices in the movie has guided the activities of several actual engineers.
I believe that we have finished an important first step in successfully planning and shaping a desirable future for Brooks College with our recently adopted vision statement for the College. This statement embodies Brooks College values, mission, and distinctive strengths. It is informed by knowledge of current cultural and social contexts and by knowledge of what is achievable through best practices in interdisciplinary teaching and scholarly and creative activity. I believe that with their commitment, skills, knowledge, and imagination, the Brooks College faculty and staff, with the support of many others, will make this envisioned future a reality.
Fortunately the Brooks College faculty and staff are not responsible for the future success of the Chicago Cubs.
2nd Annual Civil Discourse Symposium
It’s coming up! The second annual Civil Discourse Symposium will be held on Thursday, November 19, 2015 in the Eberhard Center and will be hosted by the inaugural Padnos/Sarosik Professor of Civil Discourse, Dr. Lisa M. Perhamus. We hope you, your colleagues, and students will join us for what promises to be a meaningful event. Click here to RSVP.
This year’s symposium celebrates creative, grassroots community-building work and how commitments to civil discourse in this work can strengthen communities. East and West Together: Intersections of Re-Imagining the Future of Michigan will bring people together from both sides of the state and will highlight some of the important work happening in Detroit and Grand Rapids. From Detroit, we welcome symposium panelists, Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty, award winning social justice community organizer and poet; and Marisol Teachworth, co-founder and programming director of the James and Grace Lee Boggs School. Panelists from Grand Rapids are Briana Ureña-Ravelo, Co-Founder of the GR chapter of Black Lives Matter and Community Engagement Specialist for the Rapidian; and Reverend Doug Van Doren, Pastor of Plymouth United Church of Christ and local leader in initiatives focused on the intersection of faith and social justice. 
About this year’s symposium, Dr. Perhamus writes:
I hope that the evening will provide people with the space and opportunity to talk with folks with whom they might not typically. One of the primary goals of the evening is to have meaningful conversation with a community wider than the walls of the university. We have community organizers and residents coming from Detroit; community activists and residents joining us from the Grand Rapids area; students; university support staff; faculty from GVSU and other universities across Michigan; and GVSU administration--all sitting together at round tables, sharing dinner, challenging each other about what is most important for us as we think about growing our neighborhoods and communities. The event is generously held on the GVSU campus, but, through dialogue with one another, we will be breaking down the walls of the proverbial "ivory tower."

I am most excited about these conversations. People who attended last year's symposium consistently talked about how personally transformative it was to spend time with people across "borders." By that I mean, students were excited about sitting at the same table as President Haas; faculty from GVSU found comradery with Grand Rapids residents; and the GR community, within and without GVSU, experienced authentic conversation with our guests from Detroit. This year's symposium builds on the power of crossing borders in this way by inviting and embracing folks whose lives are rooted in different: geographic locations of the state (east and west sides of MI); areas of foci for formal and informal work; life identities; stages of life experience; and ideas, attitudes and beliefs about the world we live in. I am most excited about having an evening dedicated to this kind of space, where we can constructively struggle and support one another as we envision a more just humanity. As we look at the realities of devastation and hope, locally and internationally, I believe it is one of the most pressing conversations that we need to have.  
New Mission, Vision and Values
Thank you for providing your input on the College's mission, vision and values statements! What follows is the final draft that will guide the rest of the Brooks College's strategic planning process.

 Cultivating engaged global citizens through innovative interdisciplinary programs and diverse community partnerships.

 The Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies will be a regional and national model for creative inquiry, integrative programming, inclusive practices, and student empowerment.

We Value:
  • A collegial and collaborative student-centered environment where we support each other and work together, both within the college and across campus, in an open and transparent manner.
  • Cultural diversity and diversity of voices as a foundational principle in our curriculum, programming, and practices.
  • Community engagement through educational initiatives and experiential learning.
  • Interdisciplinary research and teaching that challenges and expands perspectives.
  • Risk-taking and innovation that encourages alternative approaches to scholarship, teaching, and learning.
  • Social, environmental, and financial sustainability in all that we do. 
Faculty, Staff, and Student Successes
Art Gallery staff members Stacey Tyedten, and Nathan Kemler, and Ellen Adams, Assistant Professor of Honors, gave a presentation, "Visual Integration: Incorporating Collections Narratives Into Educational Environments," at the Michigan Museums Association Annual Conference. 
Gordon Alderink, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy and Honors was interviewed by "Eight West" on WOOD-TV for a story on the documentary "Lesson in Diplomacy: Grand Valley State University Baseball in Cuba," which is about the baseball team's 2012 trip to Cuba.
Stephine Deeren, a Liberal Studies major at the Traverse City campus, was featured in a Success Story in the Northern Michigan College Foundation’s Newsletter. Click here to view the full article.

Craig Benjamin, Professor of History in the Frederik Meijer Honors College
, gave three presentations on Big History and the use of technology in the classroom at the Third International Colloquium on the Teacher Student Relationship in the Digital Age, at the Sri Atmananda Memorial School in Kerala, India.

Kurt Ellenburger, Professor of Music in the Frederik Meijer Honors College
, gave a lecture, “Jazz Across the Atlantic: Contrasting American and European Models of Jazz Education,” at Iowa State University on October 5th.
Rich Hiskes, Professor of Political Science in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, recently edited the book Human Dignity and the Promise of Human Rights, published by Open Society Foundations. He also gave a presentation, “The Honor of Human Rights,” at the American Political Science Association annual meeting in San Francisco, California and a keynote address, "A Very Promising Species: Environmental Human Rights and the Future," at the conference on "Social Practice of Human Rights: Charting the Frontiers of Research and Advocacy," at the University of Dayton.
Kate VanderKolk, student services coordinator for the Center for Adult and Continuing Studies, gave the presentation "Project Graduation: Recruiting and Supporting Former Students" at the Association for Continuing Higher Education Conference. 
Judy Whipps, Professor of Liberal Studies, published a chapter, "Mary Parker Follett: Creativity, Power, and Diversity," in the book Perspectives in Interdisciplinary and Integrative Studies, published by Texas Tech University Press.