Semester in Grand Rapids, Student Athletes in Spain, Peer Mentors & More!
Semester in Grand Rapids, Student Athletes in Spain, Peer Mentors & More!
Grand Valley State University

Message from Interim Dean
Mark Schaub

One of the many alarming trends in our hyper-partisan and divided nation is the downward trend in how many Americans view higher education. Many of you saw the recent Pew survey results that reveal a majority of registered Republicans have a negative view towards universities.
Similar data released in 2017 motivated a Michigan State University colleague, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, to write her book, Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University (Johns Hopkins UP, 2019). Her message is helpful for those of us committed to higher education, and serves as a way forward; we can—individually and collectively—start to repair the damage to the tarnished perceptions of our work.
Picture a seminar of graduate students who expertly and eagerly shredded an academic article. Then picture the instructor asking these critics to back up a bit. “What’s the author’s argument? What’s her goal in the article? What does she want the reader to come away with?” (p.2). The response to the instructor (actually, Fitzpatrick describing her own course): silence. This example from East Lansing provides a lesson for us in Grand Rapids, in Allendale, and online. We must help our students be generous readers, and generous thinkers, as well as critical thinkers. “Generous thinking,” to Fitzpatrick, is similar to intellectually walking in another’s shoes. We’re not responding in constructive ways to one another if we’re not generously listening to one another. No, she is not naïve to the corrosive effects of hate speech—we don’t need to be generous about that. But we do need to open ourselves to criticism if coming from positive intent. We need civil discourse, but we need to be listening more meaningfully than merely “civil listening,” or politely waiting our turn to talk.
In Brooks College, you know all this. Still, you might consider the first chapter (or two) of this book, and how your teaching or student interactions might be enhanced by generous thinking. Even more important for our profession, perhaps, is taking that generous thinking out to the wider community: at the grocery store, on social media, political gatherings, your faith community. And pencil in the annual civil discourse symposium on your calendar for Tuesday, 19 November; bring your students, neighbors, friends, and family.

Semester in Grand Rapids Reflects, Preps for Year Two

Semester in Grand Rapids (SIGR) celebrated the completion of its inaugural year on August 6 with a showcase featuring presentations from seven students. Delaney McDonald, who interned at the Cook Arts Center, said, "The deep dive we took here forced me to reflect on where I came from and the parts that I was missing. I think that I have a new respect for Grand Rapids but also for my hometown. I'm leaving with a lot more questions than answers."
Kristin Moretto, SIGR Director, said, "This program is unique in that it combines multiple high-impact practices to connect learning to real-world experience in a particular place. Students who participate in the program learn about complex urban issues, develop professional skills and experience, and reported feeling more connected to the city of Grand Rapids as a result of participation in the program.”
Watch the updated SIGR video featuring new interviews with faculty, staff, and community partners:
3 Ways You Can Promote Semester in Grand Rapids
Semester in Grand Rapids has been approved to run during the Spring/Summer 2020 semester. Please help get the word out to students by:

New Study Abroad Trip Designed for Student-Athletes

A new study abroad trip to Spain was designed to accommodate the unique schedules and demands of student-athletes. The program combines online coursework with a 15-day trip to Spain, focusing on building intercultural communication skills and competence for careers in business, health, education and more. Students live with Spanish host families, experience the diverse language and culture of the region, and engage in discussions on cultural awareness. The 3-credit course offered during this program fulfills General Education requirements, making it attractive to students from any major. Watch the video documenting the first trip in June:

Peer Mentor Program Continues, Supports Retention

The Brooks College Office of Integrative Learning and Advising is continuing its Peer Mentor Program for the second year. The program is designed to support student persistence and retention by strengthening the co-curricular component of LIB 100 and increasing student and faculty knowledge of campus resources. A team of student employee peer mentors host short discussions following LIB 100/201 campus events, lead service-learning events, and host tours of campus resources, such as the Knowledge Market and University Counseling Center. LIB 100 instructors can request:
  • Class visits: mentors will highlight co-curricular event opportunities and introduce campus resources.
  • Resource tours: mentors will conduct a 45-minute tour visiting various sites on campus.
To request a class visit or tour, call the Brooks Advising Office at 331-8200.

New Faculty Introduction: Amanda Buday, Assistant Professor of Environmental & Sustainability Studies

Amanda Buday, assistant professor of sociology and environmental and sustainability studies, completed her Ph.D. in sociology at Southern Illinois University in 2016, where she studied community-based environmental and anti-fracking activism in southern Illinois. Amanda taught at Fort Hays State University in western Kansas for three years, leading undergraduate research teams studying municipal water conservation and regional variation in wind energy development in Kansas. She currently chairs the Natural Resources Research Interest Group of the Rural Sociological Society and is a member of the International Association of Society and Natural Resources. Amanda lives in Ravenna with her husband, Luke, and their rowdy redheaded horses, Jerry and Van. 

Faculty, Staff & Student Recognition

Jeremiah Cataldo, associate professor of history, Honors College, edited a book, Imagined Worlds and Constructed Identities in the Hebrew Bible, published by T&T Clark/Bloomsbury. Cataldo also wrote a chapter, "Biblical Strategies for Reinterpreting Crises with Outsiders," published in the book Imagined Worlds and Constructed Identities in the Hebrew Bible and three online articles, "Religion in Israel and Religion in the Bible," "Prejudice in the Bible," and "Reading Haggai-Zechariah as a Political Text," published by Pointofview.
The Grand Rapids Business Journal featured Semester in Grand Rapids in an article highlighting the student showcase event on August 6.

Upcoming Events & Important Dates

September 1: Labor Day Recess
September 15-21: Making Waves Initiative: Big Splash Week of Events
September 18: The World's Greatest Minstrel Show Under the Stars
September 20: Peace Pole Rededication Ceremony
September 27: Gen Z Faculty Workshop*
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 15: Study Abroad Fair
October 15: 4th Annual Lunch with the Kutsche Office*
October 20-22: Fall Break
October 30: Frederik Meijer Lecture Series: A Conversation with Mayor Rosalynn Bliss
November 1: Global Laker Celebration*
November 6-7: Teach-In: Power, Privilege, and Difficult Conversations
November 13-15: Inauguration Events & Investiture of Philomena V. Mantella
November 19: Civil Discourse Symposium*
November 22: Sustainability Showcase
November 27 - December 1: Thanksgiving Recess
December 9-14: Examination Week
December 14: Semester Ends
December 17: Grades Due from Faculty
*RSVP Required
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