(Re)Start, Social Innovation, IRIS award winners, GRPS students visit GVSU
(Re)Start, Social Innovation, IRIS award winners, GRPS students visit GVSU
Grand Valley State University
Interim Dean Mark Schaub

Dean's Message

Modeling Interdisciplinarity
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently re-ran its 2018 essay “The Interdisciplinary Delusion.” I was of course lured into reading Jonathan Kramnick’s piece again, since its provocative title implies a denigration of the foundational principles upon which our unique college was formed.
It really isn’t as anti-interdisciplinarity as it seems. It certainly argues for the importance of deep disciplinary knowledge and research methods, but also celebrates the ways that interdisciplinarity—at its most effective—enhances how we collectively add to human understanding. One of those ways, and one in which Brooks College faculty excel, is to embrace the tensions that exist among different methods and truth claims. That’s where the political tension lies, and that’s where the most interesting and useful insights can bloom. We should also take Kramnick’s warnings to heart. We must continue to incorporate and respect the disciplinary fields (and boundaries)—and at the same time ensure our borders are porous enough. That same tension referred to by 7th Century B.C.E. poet Archilocus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Here in Brooks, we know—like Catherine Lyall—that “this is not an either/or situation.”[1]
These “many things” will be on full display on Tuesday, February 25, at the annual Brooks College Faculty Scholarship Showcase (1:00 pm, Pere Marquette Room). Six faculty colleagues will be sharing their “many things” from their fascinating sabbatical projects. We especially invite students to this event, as it will be one of the important ways we can model our interdisciplinarity for our students.
[1] Lyall, C. (2019). Being an interdisciplinary academic: how institutions shape university careers. Cham: Palgrave/Macmmillan. P. 105.
Margaux Sellnau shares her Brooks College experience at the (Re)Start Meeting.

(Re)Start Meeting 2020

Brooks College faculty and staff gathered on January 10 for the annual Winter (Re)Start Meeting with the theme, "Student Success." Two students presented projects during the event: Emily Zeliasko, shared her work building a stronger community in the Honors College and Margaux Sellnau shared about her experience working with the Sustainable Agriculture Project and the Design Thinking Academy.
Interim dean, Mark Schaub, provided an update on the current projects and priorities for Brooks College and referenced two data sets: KPIs and NSSE results. Jen Jameslyn, director of Integrative Learning and Advising, gave an update about the rollout of the forthcoming advising program, Navigate, and encouraged faculty and staff to continue to provide one-on-one student support as much as possible.

Social innovation: one year update

Brooks College's first graduate program, the Professional Master of Arts in Social Innovation (PMASI), launched just one year ago, and its students are already seeing a positive impact on their careers. Naomi Silas, a freelance graphic designer, said, "During my first semester, I was asked to be a part of a project at the Johnson Center of Philanthropy. A few months after I began to volunteer on the project, I was encouraged to apply for a Fellowship and I was awarded it." Naomi was drawn to the PMASI for its social justice aspects. "I had been doing DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) work mostly in the field of design for about 4 years. I was looking for a program to take me to the next level."
The PMASI is designed to prepare students to be change agents who will foster and lead cross-sector innovation throughout their organizations, businesses, and communities. The 36-credit program incorporates graduate courses from social work, business, and public administration with social innovation core courses. Wendy Burns-Ardolino, director of the PMASI, said, "The program fills a niche for professionals who are interested in cross-sector work or are looking for an advanced degree to move their career to the next level. There is also a growing number of traditional graduate students and combined degree students." This mix of students makes for a rich learning environment. "What students most enjoy about class," Wendy commented, "is seeing people coming at complex social problems from different perspectives, disciplines, and professions."
Naomi said her favorite aspect of the program is her classmates. "Everyone has such different backgrounds and experiences. It really creates an open environment where we are learning from each other as well as the professors and course materials. The discussions are deep and profound and it really feels like we can move the needle here in Grand Rapids, when it comes to social innovation."
Learn more about the Professional Master of Arts in Social Innovation at gvsu.edu/pmasi.
Kate Millett and Ben Scott-Brandt post with their award certificates
Kate Millet and Ben Scott-Brandt pose with their award certificates.

Outstanding thesis award winners

The Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies (IRIS) Department hosted its Fall 2019 senior showcase last month for students to present their research projects to classmates, faculty and staff members, and friends and family. During the event, two students were announced as winners of the Outstanding Thesis Awards. Kate Millet won the Stanley Krohmer Senior Project Award for her thesis titled, "Mindfulness Curriculum." Ben Scott-Brandt won the Wendy J. Wenner Thesis Award for his thesis titled, "Functions of Behavior in Secular Student Communities."
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Union High School students visit Grand Valley

On December 12, 2019, a group of Challenge Scholar students from Union High School visited GVSU and sat in on a series of GV student presentations. The visit was the culminating event of a semester-long partnership between the two schools.
Throughout the Fall 2019 semester, Dauvan Mulally, senior affiliate professor of writing, Justin Pettibone, affiliate faculty member of integrative studies, and Gayle Schaub, liaison librarian, collaborated with Nathan Teft's Union High School class as students read, reflected on, and analyzed texts by Adrienne Rich, bell hooks, and Martin Luther King Jr. Students also received research instruction at their high school and GVSU. This is the fifth year Gayle Schaub has worked with GRPS students, supporting critical thinking and deep reading skills to help students in the college application process.

New staff introductions

Brooks College is pleased to introduce Noelia Guerra Siriamphone, the new office coordinator in the Padnos International Center. Noelia assists with the International Student and Scholar Services providing support for the international students at GVSU. Noelia earned a B.A. from Aquinas College in International Business. Noelia’s primary language is Spanish but is fluent in English. Noelia previously worked in Grand Valley's Human Resources office. She also manages her own photography/videography business. Welcome, Noelia!
The Kutsche Office of Local History is excited to welcome Mary Williford as the new Office Coordinator. Mary brings years of local history experience to GVSU. She most recently served as Operations Manager at The Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery, AL. There she assisted in grant writing, oversaw daily operations, and streamlined the office. She also served as Black Heritage Council Coordinator at the Alabama Historical Commission. Prior to her work in Alabama, Mary served as Business Services Coordinator at the Southern Historical Collection at UNC Chapel Hill, along with many other local history and museum positions. She has a master’s degree in Museum Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Welcome, Mary!

Faculty and staff updates

Meredith Fedewa was hired as the new Writing Center Specialist in the Fred Meijer Writing Center.
Laurence José, director of digital studies, has been reappointed to another three-year term as director of digital studies beginning Fall 2020.
Jack Mangala, professor of political science and area and global studies, will serve as interim chair of the Area and Global Studies Department during the Winter 2020 semester and through Winter 2021.
Noelia Siriamphone was hired as the new office coordinator in the Padnos International Center.
Mary Williford was hired as the new office coordinator in the Kutsche Office of Local History.

Faculty, staff, and student recognition

Gamal Gasim, associate professor of area and global studies and political science, was interviewed for a GVNext article about the escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
Kelly Parker, director of environmental and sustainability studies and professor of philosophy, co-edited a book, "Pragmatist and American Philosophical Perspectives on Resilience," published by Lexington. Kelly also wrote the introduction and contributed a chapter to the book.
Mark Schaub, interim dean of Brooks College, was featured in an MLive article about Grand Valley's study abroad program and the inaugural TRIO study abroad trip to Chile.
Simeon Shama, a junior in fashion design and business at Grand Valley State University, is the 2020 recipient of Athena Study Abroad’s prestigious $8,000 Michele Iavagnilio Charitable Service Scholarship. Simeon will study with Athena this spring at Lorenzo de’ Medici (LdM) in Florence, Italy.

Upcoming events

Faculty calendar & deadlines

January 20: Martin Luther King Jr. Day recess
January 31: Export Control Questionnaire due
February 17-21: Mid-term evaluations
March 1-8: Spring break
April 18: Classes end
April 20-25: Examination week
April 24-25: Commencement
April 25: Semester ends
April 28: Grades due from faculty by 12:00 P.M.
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