Peace pole rededication, ENS major, Global Café, and more!
Peace pole rededication, ENS major, Global Café, and more!
Grand Valley State University

Message from Interim Dean
Mark Schaub

The Value of Experiential Learning
I retain virtually nothing from the content of my bachelor's degree. But I have no regrets, as it prepared me for my meandering and gratifying career to this point. And also because it was paired with a number of internships and experiences that shaped and educated me in profound ways.
I was ignorant about it at the time, but my tiny undergraduate Alma Mater was way ahead of its time. In the mid-1980s, with fewer than 930 students on its traditional liberal arts campus, Lakeland College’s enrollment was dominated by thousands of “lifelong learners” pursuing degrees at sites across Wisconsin. As a student-athlete and co-editor of the campus newspaper, I thought I knew everyone at LC; but at my commencement ceremony I was shocked to see we, the “real” Lakeland students, outnumbered by total strangers: fellow graduates, who made their way to the event with their entire families from Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, and Milwaukee.
In the midst of my career as a faculty member and administrator, I now see that this move toward serving non-traditional students while providing many of us with a “high touch” residential experience allowed that little school in the cornfields of Sheboygan County not only to survive, but thrive. Their maturity and joy at degree completion also showed me that my view of college had been pretty narrow. That college now calls itself a university, and claims to be the only cooperative-based institution in the Midwest.
Just a few years after my 1987 graduation, the school eliminated my degree program: philosophy. Though I loved studying philosophy, and enjoyed talented and caring faculty, I have forgotten it all. I’d struggle to tell you the difference between Hegel and Hume. It was my experiential learning opportunities—three internships—that made the difference.
I’m proud that the Brooks College faculty value and require experiential learning for all our students. These internships, community engagement and international experiences are important for our students, and especially so for Brooks majors, because these majors are not always easy and clear pathways to specific jobs. These opportunities show our students how their skills really are something that have value. Even paying my own tuition as an undergraduate, I was privileged to have been able to complete three of them without any pay. That is more difficult for our students these days, and so many of Brooks College internships are with non-profit organizations that value our students’ contributions and skills—but are often unable to pay in ways other than mentoring and supervising.
You all know the great value of these internships and international experiences for students. It’s up to us to continue to advocate for them to be feasible, and advocate for them to be valued.

Brooks College rededicates peace pole

Brooks College celebrated the 10th anniversary of the installation of its peace pole on September 20, one day before the International Day of Peace. The pole, which is located on the west side of Lake Ontario Hall, is engraved with the phrase, "May peace prevail on Earth," in eight languages: English, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, and Bode'wadmi. During the ceremony, student, faculty, and staff representatives of each language proclaimed the statement. The Bode'wadmi language was not spoken. We honor the People of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi people whose people are indigenous to the lands and who care for it always. Read more on GVNow.

New environmental and sustainability studies major starts strong

New to Brooks College this semester is the environmental and sustainability studies (ENS) major. Building on the framework of the minor, which was established in 2008, the ENS major helps students learn to develop a solutions-oriented understanding of environmental and sustainability challenges. The program has already drawn significant student interest with its 42 majors and 110 minors.
Kelly Parker, director of environmental and sustainability studies, said, "The new major adds a flexible, interdisciplinary option for students who want to learn about environmental matters. We emphasize the social and cultural dimensions of environmental issues, as well as the role of both natural and built environments. Wilderness, farms, and cities are all part of the big picture. We look at everything from scientific reports to nature poetry, and we get out into the world to work." Learn more at

Global Café brings together international, domestic students

Global Café, a new initiative on campus to encourage globalization, offers a cozy space for international and domestic students to share their experiences about travel, language, and culture.
The student organization Bringing Together the World, Padnos International Center, and Lilia Hauenstein, a senior at Grand Valley, made this idea come to life after Hauenstein experienced an event called “global lounge” while she was studying abroad in Japan.
"It was basically a space for international, foreign exchange and domestic students to interact, share passion for travel and exchange languages and culture,” Hauenstein said. “I was impacted by that, and have been able to contact people from all over the world. Grand Valley really needs something like this.” The Global Café is open weekdays from 12 - 1 p.m. in Lake Ontario Hall, room 163. Learn more about the Global Café and read the full article on GVNow.

Students decorate doorstops, build community in Honors

The Honors student leadership team organized a doorstop decorating event on August 23. About 75 students attended the event, which was scheduled after Transitions, Grand Valley's new student orientation program. Students decorated simple wooden doorstops for their rooms. Roger Gilles, director of Meijer Honors College, said, "The doorstops symbolized, in a very concrete way, our hope that students would open their doors to one another in the first weeks of classes and build a strong, supportive community."

New faculty introduction: Aaron Eddens, assistant professor of area and global studies

Aaron Eddens has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Western Colorado University and a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. His research and teaching bridge the environmental humanities and social sciences to engage with issues at the nexus of international agricultural development, climate change, and environmental justice. Aaron’s dissertation, “‘Climate-Smart’ Seeds: Race, Science, and Security in the Global Green Revolution,” examines the politics of Western-led agricultural development projects in Africa. Research connected to his dissertation has been published in Cultural Studies and The Journal of Peasant Studies. Outside of work, Aaron enjoys running, going to the lake, and spending time outside with his wife, Emily, and their three-year-old daughter, Rita.

Faculty, Staff & Student Recognition

Gamal Gasim, professor of area and global studies, was interviewed for an Al Jazerra article, "Analysis: The divergent Saudi-UAE strategies in Yemen."
Vandana Pednekar-Magal, professor of multimedia journalism and chair of area and global studies, gave a keynote address, “Diaspora and Identity in the Digital Age: Cultural Communities and the Nation," at Media and Culture conference at Babes-Bolyai University, Romania. She also gave presentations, “Globalism and Nationalism: Spatial Experience,” at Global Studies conference in Krakow, Poland; and “Love Across Frontiers: Reinventing Family in the Digital Age,” at the International Association for Media and Communication Research Conference in Madrid, Spain.
Mark Schaub, interim dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, was interviewed by Shelley Irwin on the WGVU Morning Show.
Brent Smith, associate professor of religious studies, is the author of a book Religious Studies and the Goal of Interdisciplinarity, published by Routledge.

Upcoming Events

Faculty Calendar & Deadlines

September 25: Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse application deadline
October 1: Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence grant application deadline
October 1: Padnos International Center Faculty/Staff Exchange Grant application deadline
October 4: Teach-In: Power, Privilege, and Difficult Dialogues session submissions due
October 7-11: Mid-term evaluations
October 11: Teaching and scholarship award nominations due from units to Dean’s Office
October 15: Mid-term grades due from faculty
October 20-22: Fall break
November 27 - December 1: Thanksgiving recess
December 9-14: Examination week
December 14: Semester ends
December 17: Grades due from faculty
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