April 2023 Newsletter
April 2023 Newsletter
Grand Valley State University
Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies Newsletter Header April 2023
Headshot of Mark Schaub, Dean of Brooks College

Dean's Message

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed, but when we are silent we are still afraid, so it is better to speak.
                                                                                                   -Audre Lorde

It’s not just Florida. Several state legislatures across the nation are well into the space of discussing potential laws that would prohibit specific topics, support offices, and courses at public universities in those states. But Florida’s current House Bill 999 is getting attention because of the potential scope of its impact, the great number of academic programs it would restrict, and the likelihood that it will actually become law. Students, faculty, and staff at GVSU and here in Michigan are understandably asking, “could this happen here?”

If it happened in Michigan, Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies would be directly targeted, by prohibiting a handful of our majors and minors. Further, the intention to eliminate academic coursework in “Critical Race Theory, Gender Studies, or Intersectionality, or any derivative major or minor of these belief systems” would gut several other foundational courses. The concepts of systemic racism in U.S. history, or the notion that most citizens with marginalized identities carry multiple concurrent identities, would render so much of our collective work, our mission, our service to students, impossible. So, yes, we are paying attention.

We are proud of our curriculum. We’re proud of our academic programs, taught by committed colleagues. Honest reflection on the history of our nation is critical to healing our divides and moving forward. An understanding of the human history of gender subordination is essential to creating equitable workplaces in the future. We believe we do not enable student learning if we ignore these realities. We are unified in these beliefs, and unified in our pride in what we do. As one colleague put it recently: “If they are coming for one of us or one of our programs, they’re coming for all of us.” 

That unity of purpose is what we must maintain…for our students. These students are not necessarily coming from the same unity as I described above. Some of them may have found themselves in an INT 201 classroom and are confronted with some harsh truths that have eluded them through their K-12 education, family lives, and experiences. As educators, we need to meet them where they are and help guide them towards richer understandings.

As part of this semester’s event celebrating the induction of new members of the WGS honors society, Iota Iota Iota, one of the members of the alumni panel told students that their lot in life, as graduates of WGS and Brooks College would not always be easy, particularly with sectors of hate across society, and toxic workplaces all around. “You can’t do this alone,” she said.

Mark Schaub signature

Mark Schaub
Dean of Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies

DEI-AB Task Force

The Brooks College Faculty Council, in partnership with the Dean's Office, has selected three faculty colleagues to serve on a newly established DEI-AB (Diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging) task force from April through September 2023.  We are happy to announce that Denise Goerisch will be serving as the Chair of this task force.  She will be joined by Becky Williams and Ta'les Love.
This task force is being established to create, administer, and analyze a survey which will gather information on how our colleagues see the climate for DEI-AB (Diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and belonging) at GVSU in general and Brooks College in particular.   
They will create and submit a summary of what was learned, along with specific recommendations to the Brooks College Faculty Council and Dean.  They will develop a plan for identifying a member of each of the three standing committees of Brooks College (Personnel, Curriculum, and Faculty Council) to serve in the role of Inclusion Champion, as well as establishing the role description.
Thank you to all the applicants, and we look forward to continuing our mission to live the values of GVSU and Brooks College by always seeking to improve DEI-AB.

Sustainability Champion Awards

On Friday, March 24, the 2023 Sustainability Champion Awards were held at the Kirkhof Center's Grand River Room. The 2023 Sustainability Champion Awards recognized students, faculty, staff, community members and organizations for their outstanding contributions to sustainability efforts on and around campus. The awards were to “celebrate the people who are doing sustainability day-in and day-out,” said Yumiko Jakobcic, director of the Office of Sustainability Practices.

GVSU has always had roots in sustainability, pointed out Provost Fatma Mili. James H. Zumberge, Grand Valley’s first president, was a geologist, who promoted environmental education throughout his career. The individuals and organizations honored help carry on his legacy of environmental education and day-to-day sustainability methods.
To see the full list of 2023 award recipients, visit the Office of Sustainability Practices website.  
To read more, check out the full article on GVNext.
Student Awards Convocation 

On Monday, April 10, several Brooks College students were among those selected to receive the Excellence-in-a-Discipline Award.  Autumn Chorney (Honors), Claire Ureste (Environmental and Sustainability Studies), John Wen (Integrative Studies/LEADS), Malia Kah (Global Studies and Social Impact), and Stephanie Warren (Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies). 
John Wen was also selected to received the inaugural Provost's Student Academic Achievement Award, in addition to his recognition for Integrative Studies.  This award is presented to a student who has attained an outstanding record of academic excellence and has demonstrated exemplary character and leadership in the classroom.
Congratulations to these outstanding students, and thank you for being such a positive example for others in Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies.  
Sustainable Agriculture Project Update
The Sustainable Agriculture Project growing season is underway! The farm now has volunteer hours on Wednesdays from 9:00 am - 12:00 pm and Fridays from 12:00 - 3:00 pm, weather permitting.  To volunteer, just complete this form from their website. 
Also consider making a group volunteer trip to the SAP!  They are able to accommodate groups of 10 people or less.  Make sure to complete the form at least 1 week in advance of your group visit.
Farm shares are available for purchase now.  A farm share is a weekly box of produce grown by students working at the Sustainable Agriculture Project, and funds from the farm share utilized for student experiences at the farm. Support local regenerative practices and student growth by purchasing a farm share on their website!
Volunteer harvesting farm produce at the SAP
Brooks College Photo Montage  

Check out these fun events that have been happening around Brooks College since the last newsletter!
WGS celebration
The Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS) program held a combined event on Monday, March 20 at the alumni house, celebrating 50 years of courses at GVSU.
Dr Julia Mason addressed the attendees with a welcome and history of WGS at GVSU.  
WGS celebration alumni panelists
The WGS combined event featured an alumni panel moderated by Dr. Ayana Weekley.  Alumni Terria Crank, Ricky Benavidez  and Margi Munoz answered questions and shared their personal stories about how they have successfully transitioned from graduate to a professional using their WGS degree to make a positive impact in the world.  
WGS celebration favors
Favors for the WGS event were supporting women in business with Chica Bean and Soap from Gentle Daisy Soap Company, along with sustainable centerpiece succulents from GVSU Biology Department and Biology Club. 
WGS celebration inductees
The new inductees to Triota Honor Society received their purple cords during the combined WGS event.
For The Culture Quiz Bowl
On Friday, March 17, GVSU's African & African American Studies program hosted the premiere “For The Culture” Quiz Bowl!

The quiz bowl focused on Africa, African Americans, and the African Diaspora. Topics included history, language, geography, culture, music, and more. Participants were given study guides to help them prep.  The participants had a blast and there were smiles all around as the friendly competition went on.  GVSU swag, gifts, and a cash prize were given away during the event.  
FTC Quiz bowl food
The For The Culture Quiz Bowl featured catered foods that represented the Black diaspora.
Everyone had an excellent time and students are already excited to have the quiz bowl again next year!  
Mary Williford and Nora Salas
The Kutsche Office of Local History held the 14th Annual Local History Roundtable on March 22 at the Richard M. DeVos Center (GVSU Pew Grand Rapids campus).  Director Nora Salas and coordinator Mary Williford greeted guests from near and far enthusiastically as the day's events began.
The roundtable had an excellent turnout, and there was consistent engagement between the attendees and the local history panelists.  
Local history panelists took the stage in Loosemoore Auditorium where they shared stories, photographs, and answered questions from attendees.  Panel discussions included West Michigan's county poor houses and documenting local civil rights stories.
The keynote address "Making the MexiRican City" was given by Dr. Delia Fernandez-Jones, of the Michigan State University Department of History.  
To see more photos from the event, visit the website for the Kutsche Office of Local History.
The Environmental and Sustainability Studies (ENS) program hosted the Winter 2023 Sustainability Showcase interactive presentations on Friday, March 24.  Virtual presentations were available from March 19 - 25.   To view the virtual presentations and further information on the Winter 2023 showcase, visit the showcase website.
During the Sustainability Showcase interactive presentations, attendees were able to view the projects and have active dialogue with the students.  
The Sustainability Showcase also featured active table discussions, which allowed deeper engagement on the topics that the students covered.
Mayor Bliss with her alumni
Current and former Honors College students recently turned out to honor Professor Rosalynn Bliss and wish her farewell as she ends her four year run as the Meijer Endowed Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. They turned out in impressive numbers, with at least 14 GVSU alumni among them—traveling from as far away as Detroit and Lansing for the evening reception on April 4.   
Rosalynn Bliss
Bliss, in her second term as Mayor of Grand Rapids, could be forgiven for not having agreat deal of time to devote to the Leadership course she has taught, or the Fireside Chat series she’s produced since 2019. But she makes is a point to meet with each of her students one-on-one to talk over their individual leadership and life goals. And the students love her for it. Mayor Bliss: we will miss having you as a colleague! 

Course Updates

University Approved Curricular Actions for Brooks College (3/1/2023-4/25/2023)
12604-2023 Intercultural Communication Certificate.  Change Program Electives.


Joseph DeLeon portrait
Joseph DeLeon, assistant professor of Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies (IRIS), has been awarded a Catalyst Grant of $8,000 from the Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence, for his proposal entitled "Always Low Standards: Atlanta's Public Access Television in the Age of ACT-UP."  Congratulations!
Joseph DeLeon portrait
Jakia Marie, assistant professor of IRIS and African and African American Studies, has been awarded a Catalyst Grant of $8,000 from the Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence, for her proposal entitled "Funtumfunefu Denkyemfunefu: Exploring the African American Experience in Ghana."  Congratulations!
Joseph DeLeon portrait
Kimberly McKee, assistant professor and Chair of IRIS, was selected as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar for 2023-2024 for South Korea.  Kim will be staying in Seoul during her time in South Korea.  We wish Kim an enjoyable and educational year abroad! Congratulations!
Joseph DeLeon portrait
Jack Mangala, professor and Chair of Area and Global Studies and professor of Political Science, joined the Executive Committee of the Observatory on International Migration, Refugees, Stateless persons and Asylum based at the University of Quebec at Montreal. Jack provided online training (April 14) to the participants in the Belgian interuniversity certificate in transitional justice. Jack was awarded a PEW FTLC Teaching Innovation Grant to support capacity building in social impact assessment. Jack will attend the annual conference of the International Association for Impact Assessment in Kuching, Malaysia, in May.  Congratulations and well done!


April 28-29: Commencement (Brooks College April 28 at 7:00 pm) 
April 26: Wings Wednesday with AAAS 11:30 am -1:30 pm

Faculty Calendar

April 22- 29: Exam Week 
April 28-29: Commencement (Brooks College April 28 at 7:00 pm)
April 29: Semester Ends
May 2: Grades Due from Faculty by 12:00 pm
May 8: First Day of Spring and Spring/Summer Classes  
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