Grand Valley State University, Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies Department

About the Department

What We Do

The programs that make up IRIS: The Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies Department share a commitment to offering flexible degree pathways to support students of all backgrounds, identities, and walks of life. Our award-winning faculty put students first. With six academic programs that can be tailored to meet individual needs and interests, we help students to maximize their tuition investment by learning specific, transferrable skills that are in demand by employers today.

Rooted in the values of liberal learning, those skills include an emphasis on critical thinking, development of strong written and oral communication abilities, complex reasoning, creativity, and interdisciplinary inquiry that is rooted in the humanities and social sciences while also drawing upon STEM. All of our programs emphasize the value of ethical reasoning, intercultural competence, and global mindedness.

Courses offered by the department are rigorous. We set a high bar for academic standards, including research and professional integrity. We also appreciate that people learn differently. Our faculty and support staff provide direct, hands-on support to ensure that our students thrive. 

Our Students Succeed
Our Students Succeed

95% of students successfully complete their degrees.

77.4% graduate in 6 years or less.

Nearly 100% report finding jobs that directly use skills from their majors within 3 years of graduation.


Who We Are

Our faculty support students on Grand Valley's Allendale, Grand Rapids, Holland, Traverse City, and Detroit campuses. The department is made up of 20 full-time faculty members and 35-40 dedicated adjunct faculty. One full-time office coordinator, Lynnette Keen, serves all of the department's programs. We work closely with the Center for Adult and Continuing Studies as well as the Brooks College Office of Integrative Learning and Advising.

Professional advisors who serve our students include: Jennifer Jameslyn (Director, Office of Integrative Learning and Advising), Kate VanderKolk (Center for Adult and Continuing Studies), and Jackie Abeyta (Traverse City Campus). 

Faculty teaching in IRIS represent the values of diversity, interdisciplinarity, and excellence that we teach our students:

  • More than 3/4 of our faculty were first-generation-to-college students themselves, including faculty who studied as undergraduates at GVSU.
  • 35.4% of our full-time faculty are people of color.
  • 47% of our full-time faculty are members of marginalized or under-represented groups, including LGBTQ+, non-US citizens, among others.
  • Members of our faculty also include veterans, individuals who are multi-lingual, and immigrants.
  • For the past 8 years, our faculty have won at least 1 (and often more than 1) prestigious university award every year in addition to national and international awards.
  • We rank among the top department's university-wide for scholarly productivity.
  • Quality of faculty teaching, measured by student feedback, peer observation, and external recognition/awards, is among the absolute highest of any department across the university.
  • 100% of our faculty say their favorite part of working at GVSU is teaching.