Fall 2022 Programming

Due to a change in our speaker’s schedules, Dr. Erik Nordman will now be presenting on Thursday, September 29 and Sr. Damien Marie Savino will be presenting on Thursday, October 6. Time and location for their presentations have not changed.

Communities by Design
a series in partnership with 


Well-designed metros and public spaces enhance the community, creating opportunities for connection, economic prosperity, and environmental justice. Yet, designing a community is often fraught, as competing interests intersect in ways that can’t always be planned. How do we thoughtfully plan and implement civic design so that cities are more equitable, just, sustainable, and ultimately, good places to call home? This series examines the question of civic design, looking at global models to challenge our ideas of what works locally.

This 3-part series will be held at Kent District Library’s new Ada Branch

Amy Van Andel Library

7215 Headley St. SE

Ada, MI 49301


6:30-7:30 PM

Thursdays: September 29; October 6; October 13


Free and open to the public. No RSVP’s required. Free parking at the branch.

Image of Dr. Erik Nordman

New date: September 29 

Commons, Collaboration, and Civic Design

Dr. Erik Nordman, professor of Natural Resource Management and adjunct professor of Economics at Grand Valley State University and author of The Uncommon Knowledge of Elinor Ostrom, will discuss shared resources, often called “commons,” which have a tendency to be overused. For decades, policy makers believed that such shared resources must either be privatized or regulated by government. However, Elinor Ostrom, a political scientist who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics, studied resource using communities around the world. In many cases, these communities were able to govern their own shared resources, such as fisheries, forests, and irrigation systems, without resorting to privatization or top-down government regulations. Ostrom identified a set of “design principles” for sustaining a shared resource. This talk will show how Ostrom arrived at her groundbreaking ideas and how these ideas are being implemented to create vibrant urban communities.

Image of Sr. Damien Marie Savino

New date: October 6

Civic Ecology and the Laudato Si' Action Platform

Sister Damien Marie Savino, F.S.E., Ph.D., and dean of Science and Sustainability at Aquinas College, will discuss the Laudato Si' Action Platform, and how it relates to civic ecology and engagement. It will address that question in light of the notion of integral ecology, which is at the core of Laudato Si', Pope Francis' document on creation care. Integral ecology refers to the mutual relationship between natural and human ecology. The Laudato Si' Action Platform highlights seven goals for implementing integral ecology in a way that is a win-win for both natural and human ecology. This talk will explore how working toward these mutual goals could be an effective way of promoting civic ecology in our local organizations and communities.

Image of Dr. Ken Yocom

October 13

At the Water's Edge: Reconnecting Cities to their Waterfronts

Dr. Ken Yocom, department chair and associate professor of Landscape Architecture at University of Washington’s College of Built Environments and author of NOW Urbanism: The Future City is Here will give national and international examples of urban waterfront revitalization to offer insights and opportunities for understanding some of the successful strategies for enhancing waterfront conditions while prioritizing public access.

Urban waterfronts are complex. They represent areas of transition ecologically and economically with impacts that reach far beyond the water's edge. Historically these locations have served as a core reason for the siting and subsequent development of urban areas supporting regional economies as points of intersection between the flow of money, production, and transformation. As these locations developed the ecology of the waterfront was commonly degraded and the lands and water privatized. However, in recent decades, cities around the world have begun to reevaluate their priorities with their waterfronts and have sought ways to revitalize their conditions ecologically and economically and in doing so have forefronted equitable public access as a primary indicator of success.

Community Partners

GVSU logo.png

Past Event

Wednesday, September 21

The Prospects for Peace in Ukraine

 with Christian Peterson

Presentation from 6-7 PM (EDT)

Social hour beginning at 5:15 PM


University Club

111 Lyon St NW # 1025, Grand Rapids, MI 49503



Image of Dr. Christian Peterson

In honor of the United Nations  International Day of Peace, this program will focus on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Six months after Russia's attack on the country, where do things stand? How do we put the largest conflict in Europe since World War II in historical, political, and diplomatic context? Looking forward, what are the prospects for peace, and what might a peaceful Ukraine look like?

Dr. Christian Peterson received his Ph.D. in history from Ohio University and teaches at Ferris State University. Along with winning several teaching awards, he has published numerous scholarly articles and books, including Globalizing Human Rights: Private Citizens, the Soviet Union, and the West (2012). He has also co-edited The Routledge History of World Peace Since 1750 (2018) and the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Peace History. In July 2016, he co-directed a National Endowment for the Humanities summer institute for high school teachers that explored the history of U.S.-Russian/Ukrainian/Soviet relations. He currently serves on the Peace History Board and recently completed a Visegrad research fellowship at the Open Society Archives in Budapest, Hungary.