Critical Issues Symposium #HopeCIS






7:00 PM

Opening Keynote Address

Location: Dimnent Chapel

Chuck Collins - Senior Scholar and Program Director on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy. Co-editor of

Inequality Matters: How America’s Extreme Wealth Gap Undermines Democracy and What We Can Do About It

We are living through a period of extreme inequality, where the gap between rich and poor is at its greatest level since the Gilded Age a century ago.  But our national conversation about how to address this challenge is equally polarized.  Why is inequality growing? Why does it matter? What is the impact on our democracy and economy? What can we do about it?  Chuck Collins will discuss the impact of inequality on all that we cherish –and the path forward to economy that works for everyone. 

(There will be a book signing with Chuck Collins after the keynote address. Book signing will take place in the Schaap Atrium, A. Paul Schaap Science Center)


9:00 AM

Keynote Address

Location: Concert Hall, Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts

David Phillips - Research Assistant Professor of Economics at Notre Dame

Following Our Hearts or Our Brains in an Age of Inequality

Income inequality has increased dramatically in the United States.  Should people respond with actions based on heartfelt alarm and anger at growing gaps between the rich and poor?  Or will people moved to action by emotion unintentionally make the situations worse by failing to think through the consequences of particular actions?  Vibrant Christian faith, close attention to personal experience, and the best economic research point to an answer: rising inequality demands a response of both heart and mind.


10:15 AM

Economic Inequality and Holland

Location: Knickerbocker Theatre

Community organizations take us from the theoretical to the practical in sharing how they address economic inequality in our community and how we can all help.

Lotefa Bartlett de Villarreal -- Good Samaritan Ministries

Steve Grose -- Jubilee Ministries

Darryl Bartlett -- Holland Rescue Mission

David Lee and Felicia Thompson -- Community Action House

Jon Myers and Hal Alsum -- 3sixty


11:30 AM

Lunch Break

CIS attendees from the local community are invited to have lunch on campus at Phelps Dining Hall for $7:50.


Brown Bag Lunch Session with Nick Galasso

Location: Maas Conference Room, Maas Center

Is Inequality Inherently 'Bad'?

Engage in a discussion with Nick Galasso on whether inequality is inherently ‘bad,’ how much inequality societies should allow; and whether the government should intervene to stem rising/extreme inequality.

(If you would like to attend this session, ask for a to-go box/drink container at Phelps Dining Hall, get your food and bring it to Maas Conference Room which is located by the south entrance of Phelps Dining Hall)

1:00 PM

Focus Sessions - concurrent, various locations


Chad Carlson, Llena Chavis, Kyle Morrison (Sponsored by Depts of Social Work/Sociology and Kinesiology)

Location: Fried-Hemenway Auditorium, 135 Martha Miller Center for Global Communication

Youth Health Disparities: Implications of Economic Inequality

Each speaker will focus on addressing the following issues related to their topic: Stats on marginalized populations vs privilege- access vs. financial; case studies/examples/stories; examples of overcoming access barriers

Chad- Youth Sports/Physical Activity

Kyle- Nutrition/Health care access

Llena- Mental Health/Implications of lack of access


Chuck Collins

Location: Winants Auditorium, 112 Graves Hall

Strategies for Reversing Inequality


Nick Galasso

Location: Maas Auditorium, Maas Center

Inequality beyond and within Our Borders: Thinking about Inequality Globally and at Home

This session will assess how inequality has evolved across rich and developing countries over the past three decades. We’ll look at the trends, as well as the role of economic growth, poverty reduction and the growing concentration of wealth


David Phillips

Location: Concert Hall, Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts

How Do I Respond Effectively to Inequality?

For those who decide that inequality requires a response, many questions immediately arise about how to do so.  This session will be pragmatic, outlining some ways to respond through democratic participation, charitable giving, and individual choices about work, home, and faith.


Stephen L.S. Smith (Sponsored by Department of Economics and Business and Markets & Morality)

Location: 102 Vanderwerf Hall

Growth, Demography, and the Recent Convergence of Global Incomes

Income inequality is a particularly slippery aspect of economic life to measure. Demographic changes in the United States, including marriage and divorce rates, appear to have accentuated the current widening of the income distribution regardless of other economic factors. Further, seemingly paradoxically, the global income distribution has been converging for (roughly) the past half-century, despite widening income distributions in many countries. Understanding these and other aspects of the US national and the global income distribution is essential for thinking clearly about policy options.


Shirley Stancato

Location: John and Dede Howard Recital Hall, Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts

Dealing with Race: Examining Economic Inequity

Through the lens of racial equity, we will look at Southeast Michigan’s demographics and factors that impact economic inequity. Using the changing face of America as a framework, why it is imperative to take action today.


2:30 PM

Department Sponsored Sessions - concurrent, various locations

Art - Temporary Services (Brett Bloom and Marc Fischer)

Location: Cook Auditorium, 141 De Pree Art Center

Temporary Services

Temporary Services is the Midwest-based collaborative duo, Brett Bloom and Marc Fischer. Since 1998, the artist pair has initiated social actions, DIY projects, publications and public interventions that raise awareness and create dialogue about social, economic, environmental, and political inequalities.Their projects often take forms that are temporary, ephemeral, and that operate outside of conventional or officially sanctioned categories of public expression.

Past Projects include:

Prisoners’ Inventions, a collaboration between incarcerated artist Angelo that documents inventions created by prisoners in the United States. This collaboration resulted in a book and a full-size recreation of Angelo’s cell that was created from blueprints sent through the mail.

Art Work, a newspaper and accompanying website that consists of writings and images from artists, activists, writers, critics, and others on the topic of working within depressed economies and how that impacts artistic process, compensation and artistic property.


Communication - Lotefa Bartlett de Villarreal

Location: 1008 A. Paul Schaap Science Center

The Truth about Local Poverty: Barriers, Bridges, and Empowering Communication

This session will introduce you to the surprising face of poverty in Ottawa County, with a focus on Holland, Mich. We will be discussing not only the 'what' and 'who' of local poverty but also the way that communication can function as either a bridge or a barrier to connecting with communities and individuals in need. Leaders of the local non-profit program Circles Ottawa County (of Good Samaritan Ministries) will be sharing their experiences of using communication to empower individuals seeking to leave poverty.


Computer Science - Evan Altman, John Dood, Aaron Green, Akio Kist-Okazaki, Gustavo Moura, Justin Scott, Elizabeth Sumner, Nathan Vance, Cole Watson

Location: 1118 A. Paul Schaap Science Center

Examining the Role of Computing and Information Technology on the Problem of Economic Inequality

Students in CSCI 481, Senior Project Seminar, were assigned the task of examining the role computing and information technology has played in regard to the issue of economic inequality. They performed substantial research investigating the impacts that computer and information technology has had on both contributing to and reducing the level of economic inequality. They were also asked to examine whether the degree to which economic inequality exists should be considered to be a negative. Each student wrote a position paper based on his/her research,and the class voted on the best papers. The authors of these papers will lead a panel discussion about the topic, with audience participation desired and expected!


History - Anna-Lisa Cox

Location: Fried-Hemenway Auditorium, 135 Martha Miller Center for Global Communication

The Roots of Economic Inequality: Race, Class and the Denial of the Past

In August of 1883, Eugene Hardy, an African American Civil Rights leader, spoke to a gathered crowd in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The occasion was an Emancipation Celebration, and as part of his speech that day he argued that: “Black is not a color despised by God or man.  Four-fifths of the human race are black.  Black appears to be the favorite color with the Lord for humanity, and is a favorite color with man everywhere else except in the human face . . . . But it is not the color that is despised, but it is despised in this country because it has become a badge of poverty and ignorance.  If it were a badge of wealth and knowledge how different would be our standing in the North . . . . What we want is not another color but power.”                                          

What Eugene Hardy did not know was that people of African descent in America had already proved that “Blackness” was synonymous with success on a scale that can hardly be imagined even today. That people of African descent had taken part in a pioneering movement made of tens of thousands of free African Americans coming to the nation’s first free frontier - the Northwest Territory. There they founded schools, churches, and human rights campaigns that forever changed the face of America, resulting in a backlash so intense that their history has been denied until today.

This session will explore how economic inequality became racialized, tracing the tangled roots of class and color in this nation through the extraordinary lives of these pioneers who believed in the words, “all men are created equal,” fighting alongside civil rights leaders of all backgrounds, not just for freedom but for equality.


Political Science - Matt Grossmann

Location: 1000 A. Paul Schaap Science Center

How Do the Rich Rule? Public Opinion and Interest Groups in Unequal Policy Influence

Economic inequalities are reflected in public policy: the American government’s policy output is more consistent with the opinions of its richest citizens than with those of its poorest. In "Affluence and Influence," Martin Gilens finds that the levels of support from interest groups and citizens from the top decile of the income distribution predict policy adoption, but—after taking rich citizens’ views into account—the opinions of median-income citizens have no effect. I argue that the strength of these relationships depend on the kinds of policy issues under debate and the conservative or liberal direction of proposed policy changes. High-income citizens mostly succeed in blocking liberal economic policy changes. Interest groups usually have more influence than individual citizens of any income level.


Religion - Kent Van Til

Location: Herrick Room, 244 DeWitt Student and Cultural Center

Does Equality Equal Justice?

The session addresses the question of Distributive Justice. That is, how ought goods and ills be distributed within a society. Sources for this will be the Christian ethical tradition, especially Catholic Social Teaching. 


Sociology & Social Work - Jody Immink, Michelle Brothers, Val Petre

Location: 104 Vanderwerf Hall

Economic Inequality in Holland: Responses from the Community

This session is a panel discussion by representatives from local agencies that address issues such as housing/homelessness, access to supports in the face of economic barriers, and health care options for underserved populations. The panel will discuss the context of economic disparities in our community, covering both past initiatives and current programs.


4:00 PM

Community Conversations: The Economics of Jim Crow

Location: Maas Conference Room, Maas Center

Community Conversations is sponsored by GROW Initiative for Diversity and Inclusion