Session 1: The Roles of Disciplines in Interdisciplinary Curricula
Plenary Speaker: Marci Sortor, St. Olaf College
Marci Sortor joined St. Olaf College in 2011 to serve as its Provost and Dean of the College, and is a member of St. Olaf's department of history. She received a PhD from the University of California, San Diego in 1988, and held a teaching and research fellowship at Stanford University before moving to the Midwest to join the history faculty at Grinnell College in 1989. Dr. Sortor served Grinnell College for twenty-one years in various capacities, including as Professor of History, Chair of the Department of History, Associate Dean of the College, Vice President of Institutional Planning, and interim Vice President for College and Alumni Relations. During her time as department chair, she was program director for a National Endowment for the Humanities Focus Grant for the development of a new, cross-cultural introduction to the study of history. While serving at Grinnell College, Dr. Sortor implemented an interdisciplinary curricular initiative that was part of Grinnell College's strategic plan. This work entailed identifying new areas for curricular growth and developing new faculty lines to bring new knowledge and perspectives to the college.
Other interdisciplinary work includes library planning and developing new kinds of teaching spaces for the Humanities and Social Studies. She has taught interdisciplinary courses on disease and societies and on the Renaissance, and team-taught interdisciplinary courses on "Renaissance and Medieval Culture" and "Conceptions of Space and Place in the Ancient Mediterranean and Medieval Europe." Dr. Sortor has given presentations and published on the economic history of northern European cities, medieval market systems, and immigrants in fifteenth-century cities. Her current research project, "Work, Business, and Investments: Economic Networks in a Fifteenth-century City," entails exploring the intersection of social networks and profitable connections for medieval city dwellers.
Expert Panelist: Barbara Bekken, Virginia Tech University
Barbara M. Bekken is a faculty member in the Department of Geosciences at Virginia Tech and a former director of the Earth Sustainability liberal education program. This interdisciplinary and problem-focused four-semester series was designed to foster student intellectual development within a learning community while meeting all of Virginia Tech's general education requirements. Dr. Bekken's research focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of course design and faculty development on both student learning and cognitive and social development. She holds a PhD from Stanford University in geology and has spent the better part of the last decade immersed in the literature on college student development and learning. Her interest in interdisciplinary teaching grew out of her experience; today's complex world necessitates that students must be able to integrate their diverse course experiences in general education with their educational and life's goals.
Through her work in resources geology, Dr. Bekken recognized an opportunity to capture students' interest in broad issues of sustainable use of natural resources and to channel this curiosity and energy into a thematic general education programming opportunity. Realizing this vision necessitated developing a team of faculty and other professionals to integrate the goals of general education with sustainability issues in an interdisciplinary two-year program predicated on developing increasingly sophisticated learners and knowers. Virginia Tech's Earth Sustainability liberal education program was born of this vision. Since inception in 2004, more than 200 students have completed the program, many of whom regard their experience in Earth Sustainability as their most valuable undertaking in college.
Expert Panelist: Jeanne L. Narum, Learning Spaces Collaboratory
Jeanne L. Narum is the founding principal of the Learning Spaces Collaboratory (LSC), director emeritus of Project Kaleidoscope (PKAL), and director of the Independent Colleges Office (ICO), all located in Washington, D.C. A nationally recognized advocate for undergraduate education, her activities collectively reflect a commitment to ensure today's undergraduatesâ€”no matter their background or career aspirationâ€”have access to learning environments that prepare them for leadership in the world beyond the campus. Over two decades, her PKAL STEM-related activities have embraced the notion that it requires a kaleidoscopic perspective for a campus team to tackle the work of institutional transformation, understanding how it takes a collaborative (interdisciplinary) effort to pursue and realize systemic and lasting cultural change. She has facilitated opportunities for informed conversations among early-career STEM faculty, within and between STEM disciplinary societies, engaging leaders and leadership teams from campuses and organizations across the country. She has been primary author/editor for PKAL publications since 1991. As LSC founding principal, her current efforts are directed more intentionally on physical environments with and beyond STEM that support interdisciplinary learning. This builds on and advances best practices and lessons learned from the national PKAL community since 1991. Narum received the 2010 Founder's Award from the Society of College and University Planners (SCUP) and was made a 2010 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She has been awarded several honorary degrees, including from Hope College and the George Washington University. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from St. Olaf College and is a Distinguished Alumna.
Expert Panelist: Karri Holley, University of Alabama
Karri Holley is assistant professor of higher education at the University of Alabama. She received her PhD and MEd in higher education from the University of Southern California, and her BA in English and communication studies from the University of Alabama. She taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine and also worked as an admissions counselor for the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University. Dr. Holley's research interests include interdisciplinarity, organizational change, graduate education, and qualitative inquiry. Her dissertation, which examined the socialization experiences of doctoral students in an interdisciplinary neuroscience program, was named a finalist for Dissertation of the Year from the American Educational Research Association (Division J). She has published on interdisciplinary curricula, planning, structure, and processes in such journals as Higher Education, Studies in Higher Education, Innovative Higher Education, and the International Journal of Doctoral Studies. Dr. Holley is currently working on two research projects related to interdisciplinarity. The first considers how faculty participate in interdisciplinary research groups (IRG), and the influences that disciplinary norms have on the experience. The second focuses on how disciplinary expertise is related to interdisciplinary outcomes. This project considers the inclusion of disciplinary threshold concepts in interdisciplinary curricula for graduate students. How much disciplinary knowledge must students master in order to meet interdisciplinary goals?
Session 2: The Contributions of Specific Pedagogies to Interdisciplinary Learning
Plenary Speaker: Doug Luckie, Michigan State University
Douglas B. Luckie is an Associate Professor jointly appointed in the Lyman Briggs College of Science (a residential program) and in the Department of Physiology at Michigan State University. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Virginia in Molecular Physiology and completed his postdoctoral studies at Stanford University in Human Biology. He is director of the CF Research Lab and STEM Learning Lab (http://www.msu.edu/~luckie). He and his research groups pursue both discipline-based physiology research into pH abnormalities and invasive pathogens in the disease, cystic fibrosis, as well as scholarship into the use of visual models, interdisciplinary discourse, and inquiry laboratories to increase student higher-level learning in the sciences.
D.B. Luckie, R. Bellon, and R. Sweeder (2011) The "BRAID": Experiments in Stitching Together Disciplines at a Big 10 University, Journal of STEM Education (accepted September, 2011, in press).
D.B. Luckie, S.H. Harrison and D. Ebert-May (2011) Model Based Reasoning: Creating Visual Tools to Reveal Student Learning, 35(1): 59-67 Advances in Physiology Education.
M.D. Haenisch, T.A. Ciche and D.B. Luckie (2010) Pseudomonas or LPS exposure alters CFTR iodide efflux in 2WT2 epithelial cells with time and dose dependence. Biochem Biophys Res Commun., 394: 4, 1087-1092.
Expert Panelist: William H. Newell, Miami University
William H. Newell is professor of interdisciplinary studies at Miami University, where he has taught interdisciplinary courses full-time since 1974, when he was a founding faculty member of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies (aka Western College Program). He received his AB in philosophy from Amherst College and his PhD in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and taught interdisciplinary as well as economics courses at Temple University and in the Paracollege at St. Olaf College prior to teaching at Miami University. In 1979 he hosted a conference on the teaching of interdisciplinary social science at which the Association for Integrative Studies was founded, and served as its first president. Since 1983 he has served AIS first as newsletter editor and then the executive director as well, positions he holds to this day. Over the last quarter century he has worked as a consultant or external evaluator on interdisciplinary studies on well over a hundred occasions, often returning to campuses for repeat visits and giving numerous public addresses.
In the early 1990s he was awarded a three-year FIPSE grant to set up the Institute in Integrative Studies, which over that decade brought around a hundred faculty members from over forty institutions to Oxford, Ohio to observe the Western Program, participate in a pro-seminar on interdisciplinarity, and design an interdisciplinary course. Newell has edited three books and guest-edited three journals, and published over forty articles and chapters on interdisciplinary studies, many examining its connections with higher education, complex systems theory, public administration, integrative learning, liberal arts, experimental colleges, critical thinking, citizenship, and even web design. For the last half dozen years he has been mentoring scholars writing on interdisciplinary studies and reviewing manuscripts on interdisciplinary studies for a wide array of professional journals and edited books.
Expert Panelist: Tobin Craig, Michigan State University
Tobin Craig is an Assistant Professor of Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy in James Madison College and Acting Director of the Science, Technology, Environment, and Public Policy Specialization at Michigan State University. Dr. Craig's teaching and research focus on the intersection of modern technological natural science and modern political thought. Trained as a political theorist, with a focus on early modern political philosophy and the thought of Francis Bacon in particular, his scholarly work explores the arguments for the encouragement and institutionalization of scientific and technological innovation, and the political challenges posed by the institutionalization of a methodical, progressive, and technologically oriented science of nature. He has written on the relationship of modern natural science and utopianism, both in the work of Francis Bacon as well as more generally, and is currently at work on an edited volume on the relevance of science fiction to science policy. He is currently Acting Director of MSU's pioneering interdisciplinary specialization in Science, Technology, Environment and Public Policy, and regularly teaches the introductory and capstone courses in the specialization to students from all across the university. Largely as the result of this experience, Dr. Craig recently has begun researching and writing about the challenge of bringing science and scientific expertise into policy-making in a democracy. Both his research and his teaching are emphatically interdisciplinary, drawing upon materials from literary works to scientific papers. He was recently awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the development of a pre-disciplinary seminar course on the enduring question, "what is the good of science?"
Session 3: Global Engagement in Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning
Plenary Speaker: Richard Vaz, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Richard Vaz received a PhD in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), specializing in signal analysis and machine vision. He held systems and design engineering positions with the Raytheon Company, GenRad Inc., and the MITRE Corporation before joining the WPI Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty in 1987. Rick is currently Dean of Interdisciplinary and Global Studies at WPI, with oversight of WPI's Interactive Qualifying Project requirement and a worldwide network of 26 Project Centers through which over 600 students per year complete academic research projects.
His teaching and research interests include interdisciplinary, service, and experiential learning, local and regional sustainability, engineering design and appropriate technology, and internationalizing engineering education. He has developed and directed hundreds of student research projects in the Americas, Africa, Australia, and Asia. Rick has published over 40 papers in peer-reviewed forums and is the recipient of numerous teaching and advising awards including the WPI Trustees' Awards for Outstanding Teaching and for Outstanding Advising. Rick is a Senior Member of IEEE and from 2004 to 2010 served as a Senior Science Fellow of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. He lives in Worcester, and his interests outside academia include golf, food, wine, and the Boston Red Sox.
Expert Panelist: Kevin Hovland, Association of American Colleges and Universities
Kevin Hovland is Senior Director of Global Learning and Curricular Change at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, working in the office of Diversity, Equity, and Global Initiatives. He is responsible for the multi-project initiative, Shared Futures: Global Learning and Social Responsibility. The most recent Shared Futures project, General Education for a Global Century, is working with 32 colleges and universities to use global learning outcomes as an organizing principle for creating coherent and comprehensive general education curricular designs. That project is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.
Hovland is the author of the AAC&U monograph, Shared Futures: Global Learning and Liberal Education as well as several articles further articulating global learning as an essential outcome of liberal education. He is also program director for AAC&U's annual meeting, project director for The Educated Citizen and Public Health, and executive editor of Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures, an AAC&U periodical designed to provide campus practitioners with readily available information about successful diversity initiatives around the country and to support academic leaders and educators as they design and reshape their diversity programs, civic engagement initiatives, and global learning opportunities to better prepare students for principled action in today's complex world. He earned a BA in Russian Regional Studies from Columbia University and is ABD in History at Georgetown University.
Expert Panelist: Bruce Magnusson, Whitman College
Bruce Magnusson is Director of the Global Studies Initiative and an Associate Professor of Politics at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. He received his BA in French from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1979, and his PhD in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1997. At Whitman College, he teaches International Politics, Politics in Africa, the Politics of Race and Ethnicity, as well as upper-division seminars in North-South Relations; Transnationalism; African Political Thought. Dr. Magnusson has written on democracy and legitimacy in Benin and in Africa for the journals Comparative Politics, l'Afrique Politique, and Comparative Studies in Society and History, and for edited volumes in African and Comparative Politics. His research agenda addresses questions at the intersections of ethnicity, security, violence, and justice in Africa, including (1) the intellectual and institutional history of ethnic and religious ascription in population censuses in Africa; (2) the relationship of census categories to administration and electoral competition along ethnic and religious lines; and (3) censuses and elections as vectors of violence. As Director of Global Studies, Dr. Magnusson coordinates a Mellon Foundation grant that is financing faculty development seminars, cross-disciplinary course development such as the course, Violent Subjects, that he co-taught this spring, and annual cross-disciplinary symposia on global issues. He is co-editing two volumes of the new cross-disciplinary Global Re-Visions book series to be published by the University of Washington Press with Whitman College. Contagion: Health, Fear, Sovereignty will appear in 2012.
Expert Panelist: Laurie Thorp, Michigan State University
Laurie Thorp is the Director of the Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment (RISE), an interdisciplinary living/learning program at Michigan State University (MSU). Students from seven colleges and over 45 majors earn an academic specialization in environmental studies. Dr. Thorp is also the co-director of the newly launched sustainability specialization at MSU. This interdisciplinary program is co-sponsored by five colleges and offers students a competency-based approach to learning. She has served on the MSU Environmental Stewardship Systems Team as technical team leader for behavioral research associated with various strategic change initiatives advancing natural resource conservation on MSU's campus. Dr. Thorp also holds an adjunct appointment in the Department of Community Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies. Her research interests are focused on participatory methodologies for food systems change. She is one of the founders of the MSU Student Organic Farm and most recently is collaborating with faculty in Animal Science and Philosophy to study sustainable agriculture as a "wicked problem." Dr. Thorp's work has been published in Qualitative Inquiry, Agriculture and Human Values, The International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Resources, Conservationand Recycling , and The Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research. She is the author of The Pull of the Earth: Participatory Ethnography in the School Garden, 2005 Altamira Press.
Session 4: Assessing Interdisciplinary Curricular/Learning Outcomes
Plenary Speaker: Bernie Madison, University of Arkansas
Bernard L. Madison was Mathematical Sciences Department Chair for 10 years and Dean of the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences for 10 years at the University of Arkansas, where he has been since 1979. At Louisiana State University from 1966 to 1979, he was principally engaged in research in topology and algebra in addition to serving as Director of Basic and Applied Mathematics for three years. He has served in many national roles including chairing the MAA's committees on Placement Examinations, Status of the Profession, Articulation and Placement, and Assessment.
During the period 1986-1989, he structured and directed the Mathematical Sciences in the Year 2000 at the National Research Council, which included the 1987 National Forum, Calculus for a New Century. Dr. Madison served in multiple roles with the College Board including Chief Reader for AP Calculus. He has directed several NSF-funded national dissemination and research projects. For the past ten years he has spent much of his time promoting qunatitative literacy, including serving as the founding president of the interdisciplinary National Numeracy Network. At present his work on quantitative literacy, teacher education, and placement testing is supported by NSF grants. Dr. Madison has a BS in mathematics and physics from Western Kentucky University and MS and PhD degrees in mathematics from the University of Kentucky.
Expert Panelist: Tanya Augsburg, San Francisco State University
Tanya Augsburg is Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies in the areas of the Creative Arts and Humanities at San Francisco State University, where she is Chair of the University Interdisciplinary Council. She is author of Becoming Interdisciplinary: An Introduction to Interdisciplinary Studies, 2nd Ed. (Kendall/Hunt, 2006) and editor with Stuart Henry of The Politics of Interdisciplinary Studies: Essays on Transformations in American Undergraduate Programs (McFarland, 2009). She has published two articles in Issues in Integrative Studies and three reviews in the Association for Integrative Studies Newsletter. She has also published in other interdisciplinary academic journals such as The Drama Review and Critical Matrix. Dr. Augsburg was the Co-Principal Investigator for a 2008 AAC&U's VALUE Initiative grant, which involved the testing of the effectiveness of the VALUE integrative learning and written communication rubrics. She is juror and co-curator of the Women's Caucus for Art's (WCA) art exhibition Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze, which takes place at San Francisco's SOMArts in 2011 and at the Kinsey Institute Gallery in 2012.
She is also editor of the exhibition's accompanying catalogue. Her most recent teaching and research examine interdisciplinary studies pedagogy as well as multiple modes of self-presentation, which includes student portfolios. She has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Association for Integrative Studies (AIS) since 2006, and is an avid tracker of interdisciplinary education trends in higher education.
Expert Panelist: Carolyn Haynes, Miami University
Carolyn Haynes serves as Director of the University Honors Program and Professor of English at Miami University. She received her Ph.D. from University of California, San Diego in 1993 in Comparative Literature and is author and editor of Innovations in Interdisciplinary Teaching (2002) and over 25 articles on student learning, pedagogy and curricular issues. While at Miami University, Dr. Haynes has worked to expand the overall size and diversity of the students and faculty involved in the University Honors Program which advances an outcomes-based and individualized liberal education plan. From 2002-2006, she chaired the First in 2009 Coordinating Council which facilitated strategic planning in academic affairs. Currently, she is leading the University's application for re-accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. Dr. Haynes is also past president of the Association for Integrative Studies, the national professional organization for the advancement of interdisciplinary studies, and she currently serves on the Publications Board of the National Collegiate Honors Council and as a consultant-evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission. She has taught over 20 interdisciplinary courses, and consulted at over 20 higher education institutions on issues relating to interdisciplinary learning, student development, and student learning outcomes assessment.
Expert Panelist: Colleen Tremonte, Michigan State University
Colleen M. Tremonte is a Professor in James Madison College at Michigan State University, and the Director of the MSU Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Teaching Fellowship Program. She is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, and in 2000 was named a Carnegie Scholar. Her most recent article, "Window Shopping: Fashioning a Scholarship of Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning," appears in the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (2011). Dr. Tremonte's current research interests include the scholarship of interdisciplinary teaching (SOITL) and graduate education, national/transnational cinemas, and film, gender and rhetoric. Address: Colleen M. Tremonte, James Madison College, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48825-1205, USA. [email: firstname.lastname@example.org]
Session 5: Meeting Administrative and Institutional Challenges
Plenary Speaker: Julie Thompson Klein, Wayne State University
Julie Thompson Klein is Professor of Humanities in the English Department and Faculty Fellow in the Office for Teaching and Learning at Wayne State University. She also has held posts as Visiting Foreign Professor at Shimane University in Matsue, Japan; Fulbright Lecturer at Tribhuvan University in Nepal; Academic Specialist for the U.S. Information Agency in Kathmandu; and Foundation Visitor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She was a Senior Fellow at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), and in Fall 2011 a Visiting Professor and Mellon Fellow in Digital Humanities at the Institute. Holder of a Ph.D. in English from the University of Oregon, Dr. Klein is past president of the Association for Integrative Studies (AIS) and former editor of the AIS journal, Issues in Integrative Studies. Her books include Interdisciplinarity: History, Theory, and Practice (l990), Interdisciplinary Studies Today (co-edited, 1994), Crossing Boundaries: Knowledge, Disciplinarities, and Interdisciplinarities (1996), Transdisciplinarity: Joint Problem Solving among Science, Technology, and Society (co-edited, 2001), Interdisciplinary Education in K-12 and College (edited, 2002), the monograph Mapping Interdisciplinary Studies (1999), Humanities, Culture, and Interdisciplinarity: The Changing American Academy (2005), and Creating Interdisciplinary Campus Cultures (2010). She also was Associate Editor of the Oxford Handbook on Interdisciplinarity (2010), and is co-editor of the University of Michigan Press series Digital Humanities@digitalculturebooks.At present she is completing a new book on Mapping Digital Humanities.
Dr. Klein received the Kenneth Boulding Award for outstanding scholarship on interdisciplinarity, the Yamamoorthy & Yeh Distinguished Transdisciplinary Achievement Award, and the Joseph Katz Award for distinguished contributions to the scholarship of General and Liberal Education. She also was a member of numerous national task forces on interdisciplinary studies and research and has advised the U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Academies of Science, and National Science Foundation on interdisciplinary research and evaluation.
Expert Panelist: Paula J.S. Martin, Kenai Peninsula College
Paula J. S. Martin is Assistant Director for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor at Kenai Peninsula College in the University of Alaska Anchorage. She has over a decade of experience leading undergraduate interdisciplinary environmental programs paired with extensive experience in academic affairs at both private and public institutions of higher education. She has published structural descriptions of her interdisciplinary undergraduate programs to help address the confusion and settle the debate regarding the role of such interdisciplinary programs in undergraduate education.
Dr. Martin was a founding member of the Pennsylvania Consortium on Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy (PCIEP) and was co-author on a number of interdisciplinary sustainability publications for PCIEP (e.g., Pointing Pennsylvania Toward a Sustainable Future and Sustainability Indicators as a Communicative Tool). She also has served on the Executive Board of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD) and was co-chair of the CEDD Interdisciplinary Scholars Committee. Dr. Martin was co-author on the original CEDD publication Interdisciplinary Hiring, Promotion, and Tenure: Guidance for Individuals and Institutions and updated its chapter on Structural Considerations in its second edition. She is the co-author (with Stephanie Pfirman) of a chapter (Facilitating Interdisciplinary Scholars) in the recent Oxford Handbook on Interdisciplinarity.
Expert Panelist: Phyllis Larson, St. Olaf College
Phyllis Larson, Professor of Japanese and Asian Studies, is the Assistant Provost and Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary and General Studies at St. Olaf College. In her role as Associate Dean, she oversees a mixture of administrative units: interdisciplinary departments (Environmental Studies, Russian Studies, and Asian Studies), a number of interdisciplinary programs (such as Media and Film, Linguistics, and Women's/Gender Studies), and other entities such as the International and Off-Campus Studies Office, the Center for Integrative Studies (an individualized major), the Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry program, and the Alternative Language Study Option. She has responsibility for two learning communities, American Conversations and Asian Conversations; these are sequences of three or more general education courses focused on a particular theme. In addition she oversees the college's writing program.
Phyllis graduated with an English major from St. Olaf College; she completed a Ph.D. in Japanese literature at the University of Minnesota (1985). She received a Fulbright Research Award to Japan in 1999. Most of her publications have been on Japanese literature or language pedagogy, but she co-authored "Asian Conversations: Establishing an Integrated, Interdisciplinary Approach to the Study of Asia" in the International Journal of the Humanities in 2006. She has served on the executive committees of the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages (ADFL), ASIANetwork, and the Association of Teachers of Japanese (ATJ). Her professional work has alternated between teaching courses in Japanese language, literature, film and Asian humanities and administrative work, chiefly building an integrated, interdisciplinary Asian Studies Department.
Expert Panelist: Wendy Wenner, Grand Valley State University
Wendy Wenner, Dean of the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary College, earned her B.A. in British and American Literature at Carleton College in Minnesota, her M.A.T. in English/Urban Education/Secondary Education from Northwestern University in Illinois, and her Ph.D. in Eighteenth Century British Literature from Marquette University in Wisconsin. She began teaching African-American children who lived in poverty at Lucy Flower High School on Chicago's west side in 1967. Changed by the lives of she touched and her students' hopes and dreams to change their lives, she continued with teaching and social justice work until 1984, when she moved to Wisconsin and began her Ph.D. In 1988, Wenner began her career at Grand Valley State University as a visiting instructor in the Department of English and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1995. Her scholarly work focused on the British Novel, Writing Theory and Practice, and Teacher Education. As an advocate for change, she rose to associate dean and then to associate vice president for academic affairs. In her role in the provost's office, she helped reduce pay disparity between men and women and establish a procedure for setting and reviewing salaries that ensures pay equitable, developed a full time adjunct position with benefits, and a phased retirement policy. In 2004, Wenner was charged with developing a new college within Grand Valley, the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies, which includes Women and Gender Studies, Area Studies, Liberal Studies, Environmental Studies, Religious Studies General Education. The college is also home to the Community Sustainable Development Initiative, Frederick Meijer Writing Center, Center for Excellence in Science and Math Education, the Barbara Padnos International Center, The Global Institute for Big History, Continuing Education, and the Fredrick Meijer Honors College. Under her leadership in sustainability, Grand Valley was named one of the top 25 "green" universities in the country. Wenner's current focus in her role as dean is to encourage commitment to interdisciplinary teaching and research and provide opportunities for students to engagement in high impact programs in the community. She is an active member of the American Association of Colleges and Universities and Board President of Heartside Ministries which serves homeless and low-income residents in the Heartside neighborhood of Grand Rapids, Michigan.