The Grassroots floor is an intentional living-learning community. As a community, students engage topics of racial awareness and identity, reconciliation and racism as played out in North America. Through shared experiences and shared meals, Grassroots offers students an opportunity to step toward challenging topics in a supportive environment. Developing cultural and racial awareness as well as Christian responses to racial and cultural injustices are essential elements of being an emerging leader in a global world.

This floor is rooted in the mission of Calvin residence life in that it is a place where we offer students the opportunity for intellectual, spiritual, emotional and relational growth.

Grassroots floor desert   Banquet and bowling


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  • Goals
    1. To foster genuine community, where Christ’s love and compassion is shown toward one another in all aspects of life, whether in the classroom or in everyday living on the floor.
    2. To develop awareness of issues related to race and racism in the North American context, in particular in the areas of history, culture, economics and politics.
    3. To develop awareness and maturity in regards to our own racial identity and cultural awareness.
    4. To improve our communication skills and intercultural skills to build relation bridges and resolve conflict.
  • Outcomes

    Students will be able to

    • Think, work and move across boundaries in diverse environments with a range of people.
    • Use skills and techniques learned on the floor in conflict resolution.
    • Improve anti-racism and anti-bias practices.
    • Develop and use communication skills AND intercultural communication skills.
    • Link theory and practice through their own experience both as citizens and in professions.
    • Seek out multiple perspectives—inside perspectives as well as outside ones.
  • Expectations
    • Enroll in the floor class: IDIS 190—Contextual Diversity Studies (students are automatically enrolled in the course in August)
    • Participate in floor retreat in September
    • Participate in at least 10 hours of service-learning coordinated by the Community Partnership Coordinator
    • Attend and participate in weekly floor meetings
    • Attend and participate in monthly floor events focused on the theme of the floor
    • Actively participate in the housekeeping of the floor
    • Be present within the community (e.g. attend floor dinners, etc.).
  • The Class

    Meets every other week and is only open to residents of the floor.

    IDIS 190—Contextual Diversity Studies

    Course Description:
    The Grassroots Living-Learning Community is intended to deal specifically with the issue of race, racism and reconciliation in the United States. In order to do so, the course will also include an examination of the cultural and ethnic identities of the participants and what it means for life in the Grassroots Community, Calvin College and beyond. Although students living in the Grassroots Community represent a variety of cultural backgrounds, IDIS 190 is not intended to simply be a celebration of cultures but a time to engage the difficult questions of race, racism, reconciliation and biblical justice.

    Participation in the Grassroots Community has both an experiential and academic component. IDIS 190 is the academic component and is intended to enhance the experience in the living community. Students living in the Grassroots Community will participate in seminars, learning events and a variety of assignments to supplement and enrich the experience of living and learning in this community. Students will develop a common language to enlighten their study of historic and current racism in the United States, and will begin to apply this to their experiences and learning within the Calvin College community and beyond. This course satisfies the Cross-Cultural core requirement.

    Course Learning Outcomes:
    Over the course of a year, students—with respect to the goals of living and learning within the Grassroots Community—should develop a deeper understanding of the learning outcomes listed below:

    Knowledge/content oriented (Think Deeply)

    • Understand the historical, cultural, economic and political forces that shape society and explain their own situation in this context.
    • Understand the relationship of power and language, and how language interacts with culture. Understand how language frames thinking and perspectives; “the language you speak creates the box in which you think.”
    • Understand the connections between power, knowledge, privilege, race/ethnicity, gender and class (locally and globally).
    • Recognize how stereotypes develop and where they come from.

    Skills (Act Justly)

    • Think, work and move across boundaries in diverse environments with a range of people.
    • Develop and use skills in conflict resolution.
    • Improve anti-racism and anti-bias practices.
    • Develop and use communication skills AND intercultural communication skills.
    • Link theory and practice through their own experience both as citizens and in professions.
    • Seek out multiple perspectives—inside perspectives as well as outside ones.

    Attitudinal/mode of being (Live Wholeheartedly)

    • Develop a sense of perspective and social responsibility (Agents of Renewal).
    • Appreciate difference; value and acknowledge other cultures as legitimate.
    • Improve cultural self-awareness and understanding of one’s self in the global context (one’s own place and connections). And recognize, explore and articulate one’s own racial/ ethnic identity.
    • Develop a biblical understanding of kingdom values, of difference, unity and Shalom.

  • Confession

    As a community of students, We confess the brokenness of our world and the sin of racism which has infected our world on a personal, institutional and cultural level. We confess that cultural superiority and internalized victimization have damaged our relationships with one another, creating social tensions. We confess that we often submit to the world's definition of who we are while failing to "ungrasp" those identities in exchange for one rooted in the image of God.

    Illuminated by God's grace and wisdom, we commit to: Reflecting the kingdom of God in how we interact with one another; restoring and redefining our ethnic identities by exploring race relations in the context of the United States and IDIS 190; and sharing our living and learning together through communal meals and activities.