December 2022 Newsletter
December 2022 Newsletter
Grand Valley State University
Grand Valley State University Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies December Newsletter
Headshot of Melanie Shell-Weiss, Associate Dean of Brooks College

       Associate Dean's Message

 Searching my bookshelves the other day, I stumbled on an old friend, Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of Hope, and was struck anew by Freire’s observations that democratically structuring curriculum is of essential importance even though these efforts may be criticized as being “too spontaneous and permissive, or else lacking in seriousness.”
The controversy around expanded learning modalities, opening the doors to our institution still wider, and the development of new programs valuing both specialized technical knowledge and academic theory and method, are but a few contemporary examples. 
To be sure, expanding access to higher education remains one of the most pressing needs facing Michigan residents today. According to the 2021 American Community Survey, fewer than 20% of Michigan residents aged 25 and older hold a bachelor's degree. This puts Michigan in the bottom third of states nationally in terms of educational attainment. Given that adults with less education are more likely to work in high-risk occupations with few benefits, experience more economic hardship, and have less access to resources contributing to better health, democratizing educational access is a material imperative. Education also has the power to do much more, as Freire reminds us: through “acts of cognition,” breaking alienation, “evoking new challenges followed by new understandings,” education fosters human dignity and freedom.
Brooks College has long been a place that nurtures this kind of liberatory hopefulness through education. We do this through community-building exercises like the walk-and-talks, Brooks Bash event, and gatherings like those hosted by the Latin American Studies and African and African American Studies programs in recent weeks. We create opportunities for our students across our classrooms, both physical and virtual, meeting students where they are and supporting them to be and do more, expanding what they imagined could even be possible. Our innovative curriculum draws upon deep traditions while also pushing boundaries, challenging gazes, and looking forward.
What a privilege it is to be a part of a community of colleagues who live out their values of openness, curiosity, and inquiry. Let’s keep building together.
Melanie Shell-Weiss signature

Melanie Shell-Weiss
Associate Dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Happy Holidays from Brooks College
Best wishes for a joyful holiday season and a Happy New Year! 
Happy Holidays
Winter (Re)Start Meeting
Our 2023 Winter (Re)Start Meeting will be held on the morning of Friday, January 13, 2023, in the Pere Marquette Room, within the Kirkhof Center.  The morning will begin with breakfast served at 8:15 am and will include a trio of live musicians, followed by speakers beginning at 8:45 am.  There will also be a portion of the meeting dedicated to table discussions.  The speakers will include current Brooks faculty and leadership. RSVP here.
Winter ReStart Flyer
Princeton Review recognizes GVSU's commitment to sustainability in latest college guide
For the 13th consecutive year, Grand Valley has been included in the Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges, recognizing the university's strong commitments to the environment in its campus policies, programs and practices. 

As home to the Office of Sustainability Practices, the Sustainable Agriculture Project, as well as the Environmental and Sustainability Studies program, Brooks College plays a significant role in sustainability at GVSU. Thank you to our faculty and staff whose important work helps GVSU to be a model for other higher education institutions!

Read the full GV Next feature to learn more.
Civil Discourse Symposium
The Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse held the 9th annual civil discourse symposium, Sharing Our Stories: Moving from Division to Hope, from November 7 through November 9. This three-day event culminated with an interactive keynote address on Wednesday, November 9 from 6:00-8:30 p.m. in the Eberhard Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. Activities included a photography studio experience for participants (students, staff, faculty, community members); a studio workshop with Seeds of Promise, a community organization partner of the Center for this special event; studio workshops with student, staff, faculty, community member attendees; a curated photography exhibit; and a keynote address with John Noltner, A Peace of My Mind's founder, photographer, and storyteller. A Peace of My Mind leads transformative experiences that help a polarized world rediscover our common humanity.
art exhibit A Peace of My Mind
The Photography Exhibit was on display in the Kirkhof Center from Monday November 7 through Wednesday November 9.
John Noltner taking photos of guests of the Share Your Story gallery
John Noltner was on site to photograph and gather new perspectives during his studio workshop, in the same space as the photography exhibit.  Their photos and stories were then shared during the keynote address event held on Wednesday in the Eberhard Center.  
John Noltner speaking at the symposium
Keynote speaker John Noltner gave the keynote address, which was a multi-media presentation through which he shared his personal story of following his passion while at the same time revealing the wisdom of everyday people and their stories of hope, transformation, and forgiveness.
A discussion happening at a table during the symposium
The symposium included table discussions where attendees were able to interact on a personal level.  
From left are Carol Sarosik, Shelley Padnos, Elizabeth Arnold, Greg Warsen, Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, Jack Mangala and Lisa Perhamus.
From left are Carol Sarosik, Shelley Padnos, Elizabeth Arnold, Greg Warsen, Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, Jack Mangala and Lisa Perhamus.  
During the main symposium event on Wednesday, November 9, Director Lisa Perhamus announced the new endowed professor of civil discourse, Greg Warsen.  She also thanked current endowed professor Jeff Kelly Lowenstein for his work during his time as the endowed professor.
Image Credit: Courtesy Photo
New Bachelor of Applied Science Degree Programs
Portrait of Deans Paul Plotkowski and Mark Schaub
Dean Paul Plotkowski of the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing (PCEC) and Dean Mark Schaub of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies
The GVSU Board of Trustees approved four new Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.) major programs during their meeting held at GVSU’s Detroit Center on November 4, 2022. These new majors will be jointly housed in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing (PCEC). Deans Mark Schaub and Paul Plotkowski presented the new programs to the board. They include: Professional Innovation (Brooks College), Leadership & Business Fundamentals (Brooks College), Technology Project Management (PCEC), and Web Design & Development (PCEC). Students across all four of the majors will take shared degree requirement courses that will be housed in Brooks College. All programs will begin accepting applicants in Winter 2023, with the first students starting in Fall 2023. 

Each of these programs takes an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to serving the shifting needs of students across Michigan and the Great Lakes Region and represent the culmination of nearly four years of faculty effort to build and shape the new majors. The Professional Innovation major incorporates several existing minor programs and certificate programs to form a customizable specialization.  This will allow students to transfer their applied associate degrees to an undergraduate program that builds upon the technical skills they have already obtained and applies them towards the completion of a four-year degree. The Leadership & Business Fundamentals major incorporates the Leadership Certificate (housed in IRIS) and Business Fundamentals Certificate (housed in Seidman).

Sometimes called “upside down” or “inverted” majors, B.A.S. degrees take a different approach to teaching than is typical of Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) programs. Those programs start by introducing students to broad concepts and skills, moving them toward greater specialization over the course of the degree in order to enter a chosen career or pursue graduate training. By contrast, B.A.S. students enter their four-year degree pathways with highly specialized knowledge and skills, building out broader liberal education-informed methodological, conceptual, and theoretical training that supports students to advance in their current careers, change professions, or launch new endeavors. As with all Grand Valley programs, each B.A.S. student will be required to complete all of the university’s general education and other requirements.

  "Often, when people are graduating high school, they face a difficult choice between entering a more general two- or four-year degree pathway which accrues debt and pursuing an applied associates degree to get into the workforce quickly to start earning a living," says Melanie Shell-Weiss, Associate Dean of Brooks College and convenor of the Provost appointed Task Force that developed the new B.A.S. majors.  "These new programs remove the glass ceiling that prevents applied associates earners from pursuing a four year degree without starting over."  Feedback from integrative studies students, as well as students who have declined to transfer to GVSU because of the transfer barriers they face with traditional B.A. and B.S. degree options, has indicated a need for such an avenue for students who have already put a significant amount of time in to earning an applied associate degree, and don't want to see that effort wasted.

Work to develop these majors began in AY2018-2019, with the new program prospectus approved and a Provost appointed Task Force created in Fall 2019. Many individuals within GVSU collaborated to develop the curriculum and map the major pathways, including several Brooks College faculty: 
Denise Goerisch, associate professor of Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies (IRIS), has been a part of this task force since its inception and was instrumental in curriculum development. She was also a lead in revising INT 331 – Person and Profession in a Global Environment, which serves as a degree requirement for all four of the B.A.S. majors.
Justin Pettibone, senior affiliate faculty and assistant department chair of IRIS also played a lead role as a task force member.  A nationally recognized expert in working with adult learners and recipient of the 2017 Council for Accelerated Programs Excellence in Teaching Award, Justin serves as the primary liaison between IRIS and the LEADS program, a university-wide pathway to supporting adult learners to complete their bachelor’s degree. 

Kate VanDerKolk, Assistant Director for Programs and Support in the Center for Adult and Continuing Studies (ACS)
Simone Jonaitis, Executive Director of ACS, were key to helping develop the supporting structure for the programs. Simone’s advocacy on behalf of adult learners, including bringing forward the idea of a B.A.S. program at a time when only a few programs existed nationally, was instrumental to this work. ACS will continue to provide the primary advising support for the students within the Brooks B.A.S. major programs. 
Other members of the task force included: Lindsay Corneal (School of Engineering, PCEC), Jean Essila (Management, Seidman), Roger Ferguson (CIS, PCEC), Andrew Kalafut (CIS, PCEC), Jaideep Motwani (Management, Seidman), and Scott Rood (HTM, CECI). 
Overall, four different colleges within GVSU combined their efforts to create the Bachelor of Applied Science degree program.  This truly was an interdisciplinary effort to meet the always evolving needs of our students.  A very large thank you to every single individual who helped to bring this program into being.  We look forward to welcoming the first B.A.S. students to campus beginning in Fall 2023!

Read the GV Next feature for more details.  
Portrait of Ramya Swayamprakash

Spotlight: Ramya Swayamprakash

Dr. Ramya Swayamprakash joined the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies faculty in 2022 as a part of the College’s cluster hire cohort.  Ramya teaches courses in Digital Studies (DS), Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ENS), and Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies (IRIS).  Ramya brings with her a wealth of academic experience and knowledge about a wide array of disciplines.  Her journey from growing up in India to landing in Grand Rapids as a part of our GVSU community has been filled with extremely valuable opportunities that make her a uniquely qualified and welcome addition to Brooks College.

Ramya was surrounded by education while growing up in India.  Both her mother and grandmother were schoolteachers.  She grew up being encouraged to learn and her family fostered her curiosity about the world and how it works.  As she worked her way through high school, she began to recognize that she disliked focusing on textbooks as a way of learning.  The things she learned did not seem to relate much to her real life or teach her valuable skills.  She much preferred real-world experience and engaged thinking exercises. 

She attended the University of Mumbai in India for her undergraduate degree on mass media with an emphasis in journalism.  There, she developed a valuable mentor relationship with her program director.  He was immensely committed to education, and he inspired her to think about teaching as a profession.  He made teaching seem fun and fulfilling.  His influence motivated Ramya to pursue graduate school and become a professor herself.

To find out more about Ramya's background and how her passion for research was sparked by the Great Lakes and water systems, read the full Spotlight Article on Ramya, please check out the feature on the Brooks College Website.  

Brooks College Photo Montage  

Check out these fun events that have been happening around Brooks College since the last newsletter!
Photo of Walk and Talk participants walking on the trails around the GVSU Allendale campus
Peter Wampler (Honors), Yumi Jakobcic (Director of Office of Sustainability Practices), Ramya Swayamprakash (ENS/IRIS), Rob Roznowski (ENS) and Amy McFarland (ENS Chair) walking on the ravine trail around the GVSU Allendale campus during the Brooks College Walk & Talk on October 31.
Photo of Walk and Talk participants Amy McFarland and Joe DeLeon walking to the social justice centers located around the GVSU campus
Amy McFarland (ENS Chair) and Joe DeLeon (IRIS) walking to the social justice centers located around the GVSU campus during the Brooks College Walk & Talk on November 4.
Photo of Dan Cope, Ayana Weekley, and Krista Benson on the Brooks Panel of the NWSA conference
Dan Cope (IRIS), Sai Isoke (WGS) and Krista Benson (IRIS) were featured speakers for the Brooks College panel at the annual conference of the National Women's Studies Association (NWSA).  The conference was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota from November 10-13.  The theme for this year's conference was Killing Rage: Resistance on the Other Side of Freedom.  
Night Against Procrastination
On December 1, the Fred Meijer Center for Writing and Michigan Authors hosted a Night Against Procrastination (NAP).  Running overnight from 8 p.m. December 1 until 2 a.m. December 2, the Night Against Procrastination is an international event devoted to combating procrastination. During the event, students were able to take over Lake Ontario Hall to write, study and work in a relaxed and quiet environment, surrounded by like-minded students.  During the event, there were activities to help students focus (i.e. Desk yoga), games to keep the mind awake, and writing consultants available to provide feedback.  Snacks and drinks were also available throughout the night to help keep everyone productive and energized.  The event was a smashing success, with 128 participants!  

Faculty Learning Committee Winter 2023

Darien Ripple, associate professor of Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies (IRIS), will be facilitating a new FLC community for Winter 2023:

How might we create a culture in higher education where students feel a sense of belonging in that they are comfortable being themselves in communities valued by the university?

This learning community will be reviewing Relationship-Rich Education: How Human Connections Drive Success in College by Peter Felton & Leo M. Lambert in order to analyze how the book relates to the Grand Valley State University learning experience. The learning community will challenge participants to consider a university in which students have more flexibility accessing and applying knowledge in ways that are more relevant to their learning goals, while at the same time being more intentional in creating relationship-rich environments that go beyond the classroom. Additional areas of focus will include fostering relationship-base learning, alternative delivery models, and creating environments that value competencies rather than credit hours.

To register, complete the FLC Application on the FLC website.

Application for King Chavez Parks Future Faculty Fellowship Program is Open

Administered by Grand Valley State University, the King-Chávez-Parks (KCP) Initiative's Future Faculty Fellowship (FFF) Program provides State of Michigan funding to Michigan's 15 public universities to increase the pool of academically or economically disadvantaged candidates pursuing faculty teaching careers in postsecondary education.

  Qualified individuals may apply for an FFF award through the university at which they have been accepted, provided they are pursuing a graduate degree in a program that facilitates a career in postsecondary teaching. By signing a Fellowship Agreement, FFF award recipients are required to pursue and obtain a master's/specialist or doctoral degree at one of the 15 public universities in Michigan. Following degree completion, FFF award recipients are also obligated to obtain a postsecondary faculty teaching or approved administrative position at a public or private, 2- or 4-year, in-state or out-of-state postsecondary institution; they must also remain in that position for up to 3 years equivalent full-time, dependent upon the amount of the FFF award. Recipients who do not fulfill the obligations of their Fellowship Agreement will have their Fellowship converted to a loan, referred to as a KCP Loan, that the recipient will be required to repay to the State of Michigan.

Students can start the application process by:

Login to and complete the preliminary questions for the King - Chávez - Parks (KCP) Future Faculty Fellowship application.

Read the attached Fellow Account Creation Instructions and Initial & Acceptance Instructions.

Login to MILogin - Login (  Follow the instructions to setup an account and complete an application.

Watch LEO - Future Faculty Fellowship (FFF) Program ( training videos for step-by-step instructions, if needed.

Email Christel Smith, or call 517-643-6076 if there are any issues or questions related to the database and/or have questions about the application process

The deadline for application submission is March 15, 2023. If selected for the scholarship, the FFF fellowship will be awarded in Fall 2023.

Study Abroad Fair
Replenish at GVSU 
The holiday season is a time for giving.  And at GVSU, we have a center that helps our student body with anything they may be in need for.  Replenish Basic Needs Center has three locations across GVSU that are always in need of donations of both perishable and non-perishable items.  You can view the full list of donation items on their websiteYou can drop off your donations at the drop off locations during their donation hours:
Kirkhof Center room 074: Monday through Friday 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
Kirkhof Center room 1201: Monday through Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
(The Gayle R. Davis Center for Women & Gender Equity)
In addition to donations, you can always host a healthy food drive for Replenish.  Your donation will go to helping our GVSU students who struggle with food insecurity.  Let's make sure Grand Valley students get all the nourishment they need to succeed!
Replenish Basic Needs Center
Course Updates
University Approved Curricular Actions for Brooks College (10/14/2022-11/2/2022):

Course Change: 12405-2022: HNR 401 – Senior Project Proposal (Delivery Method)
Program Change: 12332-2022: BA/BS in Environmental & Sustainability Studies (Program Electives)
University Approved Curricular Actions for Brooks College (11/03/2022-11/17/2022):
New Course: 10378-2018: EAS 245 - Topics in East Asian Food Cultures (New Elective Course, New General Education Course)
University Approved Curricular Actions for Brooks College (11/18/2022-12/09/2022):
New Course: 12408-2022: ENS 381 - Study Abroad in Environmental and Sustainability Studies (New Elective Course)
New Course: 12384-2022: IDS 150 - Dialogue Across Difference (New Elective Course)
Staff Updates

Michael Hinkle, Farm Manager and Educator at the Sustainable Agriculture Project, is now a full time AP staff member of Brooks College!  Congratulations, Michael!
Baby Emery
Leifa Meyers, associate professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Karyn Rabourn welcomed their son Emery Zeke Maybourn on October 16, 2022.  Congratulations!  
Baby Eleanor Nathaniel
Steve Nathaniel, assistant professor of African & African American Studies, and Heather Nathaniel welcomed their daughter Eleanor on October 17, 2022.  Congratulations!
Leifa Mayers portrait
Leifa Mayers, associate professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, received the Distinguished Undergraduate Mentoring Award from the CSCE (Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence) and the Research and Development Committee.  This will be celebrated during the upcoming Faculty Awards Convocation on February 14, 2023.  Congratulations, Leifa!  

Roger Gilles portrait
Roger Gilles, professor of Writing and Director of the Frederik Meijer Honors College, is celebrating 30 years with GVSU.  Congratulations, Roger!

Kelly Parker portrait
Kelly Parker, professor of Philosophy, Liberal Studies, and Environmental Studies, is celebrating 30 years with GVSU.  Congratulations, Kelly!

Maureen Wolverton, professor of Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies, is celebrating 20 years with GVSU. Congratulations, Maureen!
Melba Velez Ortiz portrait
Melba Vélez Ortiz, professor of Communications in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, co-authored a paper, "Ethical Credo for Teams: A Case Study of a Long-term Virtual Team."  This paper was recently recognized as "Top Research Paper" at the 2022 National Communication Association Conference in New Orleans.  Congratulations, Melba!


January 13: Winter (Re)Start 8:15 - 11:00 am
January 13: ENS Winter Kickoff Social 12:00 - 2:00 pm
January 18: Study Abroad Fair 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Faculty Calendar

December 20: Grades Due from Faculty (by 12:00 pm)
December 22-January 3: Holiday Break
January 9: Leadership Council Meeting 9:00 am
January 13: Winter (Re)Start 8:15 - 11:00 am
January 23: Unit Head Meeting 9:00 am
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View previous issues in our newsletter archive.
Newsletter by Maureen Strand, Brooks College Dean's Office Coordinator

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