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Grand Valley State University

Brooks College

of Interdisciplinary Studies

Upcoming Events
September 27: BPS Kick-Off Event

Message from the Dean

The 2016 Fall semester is in full swing with previously empty sidewalks now buzzing with students hurrying to class and previously open parking lots now crammed with cars. Brooks College is full of excitement as we begin the annual cycle of welcoming students, reconnecting with colleagues, rekindling academic passions, and implementing priorities of our new 2016-2021 strategic plans.
The strategic plan of each Brooks College program focuses on providing students with transformative educational experiences. This would not be possible without talented and committed faculty and staff. Thus, it is appropriate at this time to give special recognition to Brooks College faculty who begin this new year with a new title. Each of these individuals has been promoted on the basis of a sustained record of excellence through a rigorous review process.
Congratulations are in order to Wendy Burns-Ardolino, of Liberal Studies, who was promoted to the rank of Professor. Jeremiah Cataldo, in Honors, and Ayana Weekley, in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, were tenured and promoted to the rank of Associate Professor. This year GVSU has also established a new title and rank – that of Senior Affiliate Faculty. Stan Krohmer, Diane Maodush-Pitzer, and Maureen Wolverton have been promoted to the rank of Senior Affiliate Faculty in the Liberal Studies Department. Stan, Diane, and Maureen deserve special recognition, not only for a sustained record of teaching excellence, but also for their contributions in the areas of curricular innovation and service to the Department and College that go well beyond the requirements of their positions.  
Please join me in congratulating Wendy, Jeremiah, Ayana, Stan, Diane, and Maureen and thanking them for their many contributions to enriching the lives of our students and our College community. 

Program Name Change!

Take note! Provost Davis has approved a name change. What was known as Area Studies is now Area and Global Studies (AGS). The AGS program includes the new Global Studies and Social Impact (GSI) major as well as a major in Chinese Studies; minors in African and African American Studies, East Asian Studies, Latin American and Latino/a Studies, and Middle East Studies; and a certificate in Latino/a Studies.

Honors College Faculty-in-Residence Leads Study Abroad in Haiti

Peter Wampler, faculty-in-residence at the Frederik Meijer Honors College, led the first study abroad trip to Haiti for a month of “adventure-based” learning.
The multidisciplinary group of eight students contributed their energy and ideas when exploring real-world problems in Haiti, said Wampler, associate professor of geology. During the month-long trip, which ended in June, they installed three new filtration wells and assisted in monitoring the quality of water. Students also engaged in experiential learning about health care, deforestation, education and agriculture.
Wampler said he plans to share experiences from the Haiti trip with Honors College students. “I will use them to illustrate how science is used to solve real-world problems in a place like Haiti,” he said.
Wampler plans to lead another trip to Haiti in May 2017; students who are interested in learning about this opportunity can contact him at

SAP Lab!

Starting this month, Amy McFarland, assistant professor of Environmental Studies in the Honors College, will begin holding Tuesday evening SAP Lab sessions. Open to all students, SAP Lab is an opportunity for students to connect to scholarly activities at/relating to the Sustainable Agriculture Project (SAP). Students of all majors are invited, and no experience as a researcher nor ideas for specific projects are necessary! The whole idea is to get students talking, brainstorming, and connecting around projects of interest at the SAP, with faculty and peer support in defining projects, carrying them out, and presenting on them.
SAP Lab will met Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. in LOH 179. Contact Amy McFarland for more details. Spread the word to students!

A Course in Black Lives Matter

Louis Moore, professor of History and coordinator of the African and African American Studies program, is teaching a 1-credit special topics course on Black Lives Matter. The course, which explores the development of the Black Lives Matter movement and its historical roots, began this week and students have until September 18 to add the class to their schedules at no financial penalty. A few seats remain available! For more information about the course, see this article at the GVSU website.

New Faculty and Staff

This fall we are happy to welcome new faculty and staff in Brooks College. Please extend your warmest welcomes to:
Jae Basiliere (Ph.D., Indiana University), who joins the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department as an Assistant Professor. Basiliere has been teaching in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies since 2007 at the University at Buffalo, Indiana University, and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. Basiliere is teaching "Introducation to Gender Studies" and "Foundations of Feminism" this fall.
Meghan Cai (Ph.D, Arizona State University), who has a joint         appointment as an Assistant Professor in Modern Languages and Literatures, East Asian Studies and Chinese Studies. Cai joined GVSU as a Visiting Professor in 2014 in the Modern Languages and Literature Department. Some of her teaching interests include intersections in Chinese art and literature, and women in traditional China.
Denise Goerisch (Ph.D., San Diego State University and University of California, Santa Barbara), who joins the Liberal Studies Department as an Assistant Professor. Before joining Grand Valley, Goerisch conducted ethnographic research as a postdoctoral scholar at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab. That scholarship focuses on issues related to college affordability among first-year university students.
Jennifer Gonzalez (Ph.D., Michigan State University), who joins the Liberal Studies Department as a Visiting Professor. Before coming to GVSU Gonzalez worked as an adjunct professor in the History Department at Indiana University. Gonzalez specializes in Colonial Latin American History, World History and Gender History.
Jennifer Jameslyn (M.A., University of Iowa), who is a familiar face in Brooks College but has taken on a new, full-time role as Director of the Office of Integrative Learning and Advising. Jameslyn has taught various courses at GVSU in Liberal Studies, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and English. Jameslyn has assisted in coordinating the Community Reading Project and served as an Academic Advisor for Liberal Studies at the Muskegon Regional Center.
Leifa Mayers (Ph.D., University of California, Santa Cruz), who begins a new role as Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Prior to this role, Mayers taught Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at GVSU as a Visiting Professor. Mayer's research and teaching interests includ gender and sexuality studies, feminist and queer theories, and social inequalities. 
Carissa Patrone (B.A., Grand Valley State University), who joins the Padnos International Center as the Peace Corps Campus Recruiter. Before coming to GVSU, Patrone worked as a United States Peace Corps teacher and trainer in Telpaneca, Nicaragua.

The Problem of Disappearing Honeybees

Researchers at Grand Valley are studying honeybees across the country to understand why its population is declining. The project is funded by a portion of a $2.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The four-year, $200,000 study at Grand Valley, led by Jonathan Engelsma, professor of computing, will focus on collecting data from honeybee colonies using a variety of techniques and tools, including a website developed by Engelsma and a team of students. The website tracks activity at apiaries across the country. 
Engelsma is working on an additional project with Anne Marie Fauvel, affiliate faculty in Liberal Studies, and a group of students, to develop a mobile app, called PollenCollect, that will help beekeepers track bee forage around the state of Michigan. 
To read more about this exciting interdisciplinary project, click here.

GAAH Students Visit GVSU

Programs and organizations, such as the Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities (GAAH), help students of the greater Grand Rapids community experience what it’s like to be a Grand Valley Laker. GAAH and Laker Familia teamed up to help 30 Latin@ students and their parents explore the Allendale campus on July 20-21. The group enjoyed swimming at the rec center’s pool, sleeping at the Niemeyer Learning and Living Center, and heard from Director of the Frederik Meijer Honors College, Jeff Chamberlin. To read more about this event, click here. 

Faculty and Staff Successes

Jeremiah Cataldo, associate professor in the Frederick Meijer Honors College, received a positive review on a book he contributed to titled, Imagining the Other and Constructing Israelite Identity in the Early Second Temple Period. The book was reviewed in Review of Biblical Literature which is published by the Society of Biblical Literature.
Brian Cole, director of research, development, and assessment at the Center for Adult and Continuing Studies, has been recognized by the Association for Continuing Higher Education. The ACHE have chosen to present Cole with the 2016 Meritorious Service Award at their Annual Conference and Meeting in New Orleans, LA. For more information on the ACHE conference and program, please visit  
Gamal Gasim, associate professor of Middle East Studies, was interviewed by the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy for a story about the current situation in Yemen.
Carol Griffin, a professor in the Biology Department, as well as the Director of the General Education program, presented on June 3rd at the Global Learning Colloquium on General Education as part of the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Annual Conference in Denver.
Danielle Lake, assistant professor of Liberal Studies, and students Hannah Fernando and Dana Eardley, were authors of an article, "The Social Lab Classroom: Wrestling with and Learning from Sustainability Challenges," published in Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy.
Louis Moore, professor of African/African American Studies, was included in an interview with Tony Sarabia, host of Morning Shift on NPR station WBEX 91.5 Chicago. Their topic “Black Athlete Activists Have A Rich History In America” covered the involvement of black athletes on African American controversies, both present and in the past, such as the Civil Rights movement and “Black Lives Matter”. To hear a podcast of the discussion, click here.
Mark Schaub, chief international officer in the Padnos International Center, gave an invited presentation, “Four Decades of Commitment and Evolution: the Cracow University of Economics and Grand Valley State University Partnership,” at the international conference Partnerships Between Polish and American Universities in Warsaw, Poland.
Brent Smith, associate professor of religious studies in the Liberal Studies department, had his article “Transforming Discourse: Interdisciplinary Critique, the University, and the Academic Study of Religion” published by Cogent Arts and Humanities. Smith’s work will be a part of their high-profile special collection “Interdisciplinary Research” for philosophy and religion. 
Kate Stoetzner, director of international student and scholar services in the Padnos International Center, received the Cooper Award for Excellence in International Student Advising from the Michigan International Education Professionals Association.
Jonathan White, terrorism expert and professor of interdisciplinary studies in the Honors College, was interviewed by several media outlets for stories about the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The Meijer Campus in Holland has partnered with numerous community organizations along the lakeshore to develop Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore, a collaborative infrastructure that allows the community to engage with a new sustainability topic monthly with the hopes of encouraging reflection and action by individuals. This work is being recognized by the Department of Environmental Quality at the Michigan Sustainability Conference (MISCON) held at the Eberhard Center on September 14th as the winner of the 2016 Top Neighborhood Environmental Partner Award.