Housing Banner Frederik Meijer Honors College

Karen Zivi, Ph.D.

Educational Background:
B.A. in Political and Social Thought, University of Virginia; M.A. in Political Science, Rutgers University; Ph.D. in Political Science, Rutgers University

What do you like most about teaching at Grand Valley?
One of the things that I really appreciate about teaching at Grand Valley is the enthusiasm, encouragement, and support that exists for teaching across disciplines and across traditional boundaries. I like the interdisciplinary conversations that go on at GVSU, and the efforts the school makes to get students involved in extra curricular activities both in Grand Rapids and here on campus. I am pleased that the educational experience extends beyond the classroom walls and considers students and Grand Valley in the context of the global community.

What is your favorite class to teach?
One of my favorite classes is certainly my yearlong sequence called The Theory and Practice of Rights. The course builds on and expands my research interests, and it's a privilege to have the same group of students over a whole year and to watch their development, especially since they are first-year students. Since I have them for a year, I get to build strong relationships with them. Also, there is a little bit of something in the class structure for everybody - social justice, gender issues, history, social media, and human rights. I try to incorporate issues of relevance to students' lives and interests and make connections between readings and what is going on in contemporary politics.

What do students like best about your class?
They like having the opportunity to share their perspectives and have their voices be heard in class. I also think they like the connections made to what is going on in the contemporary world, such as in pop culture or politics.

How do you contribute to the success of your students?
One thing I try to do, especially since I teach a lot of first-year students, is push them out of their comfort zone in a way that provides intellectual and emotional support. I encourage them to take some intellectual risks while giving them the tools they need to succeed. I hope the combination of challenging students and supporting them gets them to see that they are capable of even more than they thought they were.

What advice would you give to prospective students?
Take advantage of all the opportunities that GVSU has to offer: do research with professors, take classes that expand your mind, get involved in campus life, get involved with the Grand Rapids community, go abroad, and more. Find out what is going on at GVSU and get involved.

What is the most rewarding aspect about teaching at Grand Valley?
One of the most rewarding things has to be watching people expand their minds and their interests, watching people mature as students and as members of the community. I love watching the growth that happens here at GVSU. I think the students' abilities to step up and take on leadership roles is great to watch. It happens both inside and outside of the classroom.

Glenn A. Niemeyer Learning and Living Center • Allendale MI 49401
Phone 616-331-3219 • honors@gvsu.edu