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PFAS discussion kicks off Democracy 101 series 

  • A picture of the carillon tower on the Allendale Campus.

Posted on September 13, 2019

The Freedom of Information Act, PFAS and media literacy are some of the topics that will be discussed during a series of lectures and workshops this fall. 

The series, "Democracy 101: A Series of Critical Conversations," organized by the Community Service Learning Center in the Office of Student Life, serves as a platform for the campus community to discuss public issues, social change and more. 

The first lecture, "PFAS in Michigan - Making Waves Initiative Collaborative Event," takes place Wednesday, September 18. Panelists will discuss the emergence of PFAS and the dangers it poses to Michigan water, as well as legislative action being used to combat contamination across West Michigan. 

Some of the events, including PFAS in Michigan, support the Making Waves Initiative at Grand Valley; an opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration to explore and investigate the many ways that water touches lives, from being a life-force to defining GVSU in relation to the Grand River and Lake Michigan.

Melissa Baker-Boosamra, associate director for Student Life, said a broader goal of the lecture series is to provide a space for people to come together and explore theory and the practice of democracy.

All events will take place in the Mary Idema Pew Library Multipurpose Room on the Allendale Campus; details are highlighted below. The events are approved for LIB 100/201 classes. 

PFAS in Michigan; September 18, 6-8 p.m. Presenters: State Sen. Winnie Brinks, State Rep. Rachel Hood, Rick Rediske, AWRI professor of water resources 

GVSU Student Senate Panel; September 25, noon-1 p.m.

Media Literacy and You; October 2, 6-8 p.m. Presenters: Jane Johnston, GVSU democracy fellow; Elizabeth Psyck, librarian; Mindy Holohan, media literacy expert

Youth Political Engagement: A Panel Discussion; October 9, noon-1 p.m. Presenters: Sumaiya Ahmed Sheikh, Campus Vote Project; Eric-John Szczepaniak, Student Senate president; Talyce Murray, Associated Students of Michigan State University 

Student Media and Democratic Engagement; October 16, 6-8 p.m.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as a Tool for Democratic Accountability - A Student's Perspective; October 23, noon-1 p.m.

Why Democracy Needs the News; October 30, 6-8 p.m. Presenter: Jesse Holcomb, assistant professor of journalism and communication at Calvin College

Water Around the Globe; November 6, noon-1 p.m. Presenter: Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, assistant professor of multimedia journalism at GVSU

Democracy in Classical Athens: An Organizer's Guide; November 13, 6-8 p.m. Presenters: Charles Pazdernik, professor of classics at GVSU, and David Crane, assistant professor of classics at GVSU

Free Speech and Inclusion: Holding the Tension on Campus; November 20, noon-1 p.m. Presenters: Relando Thompkins-Jones, director of social justice education; Deandreah Hollowell, social justice educator; Marlene Kowalski-Braun, associate vice president for Inclusion and Student Support; Lisa Perhamus, director of the Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Program; Darren Walhof, professor of political science; and Anne Jbara, assistant general counsel and Freedom of Information Act coordinator 

iCivics Lunch; December 4, noon-1 p.m.

For more information about Democracy 101, visit