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International development studies faculty


IDS Program Advisors

Roland HoksbergenRoland Hoksbergen
IDS Program Director, Professor of Economics
Phone: 616-526-6369 | Office: North Hall 164

Courses taught: IDS 201, 351, 395, ECON 237
Background: Professor Hoksbergen graduated from Calvin with a degree in Economics and went on to study at Notre Dame where he received a Ph.D. in Economic Development. He started teaching at Calvin in the Economics department following graduate school, but spent various periods working in development globally. He has worked with World Renew in both Guatemala and Nicaragua, and he has led the Latin American Studies program in Costa Rica for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. At Calvin, Professor Hoksbergen helped start the Third World Development Studies program and became the director of the program, which today is the International Development Studies program. Throughout his career, Professor Hoksbergen has done research in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. He is very interested in studying the role of faith in development work and in how development assistance can be effective. Right now, his areas of research include collective action surrounding environmental issues and issues surrounding immigration. He has led Calvin’s Honduras and Ghana semesters, and he is the author of Serving God Globally: Finding Your Place in International Development.


Tracy KuperusTracy Kuperus
Associate Professor of International Development Studies
Phone: 616-526-8848 | Office: North Hall 181

Courses taught: IDS 201, 351, 395, POLS 272
: Before coming to Calvin, Professor Kuperus taught in the political science departments at Westmont College (1995-96) and Gordon College (1997-2002). She has co-led Calvin's off-campus interim to South Africa. Her research has focused on church-state relations in South Africa and the interaction between civil society and democratization in southern Africa. Professor Kuperus is currently leading Calvin's off-campus semester in Ghana.


Johnathan BascomJohnathan Bascom
Professor of Geography, Chair of Geo Department
Phone: 616-526-7053 | Office: North Hall 085

Courses taught: IDS 201, GEO 230, 242
Background: Professor Bascom received both his bachelor’s and master’s degree in Geography from Kansas State University, and he received his Ph.D. in Geography from University of Iowa. He spent 10 years teaching at East Carolina University at both the undergraduate and graduate level before coming to teach at Calvin in 2000. He has also taught at the University of Asmara in Eritrea on two occasions and at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia on two occasions. One of Professor Bascom’s main academic interests is the refugee experience, including refugee flight, resettlement, repatriation, and internally displaced persons. He has also studied the development of rural economies in both the United States and the developing world. His research abroad has mainly be based in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan, and he has received 5 Fulbrights and a NSF grant for research. Professor Bascom has also led a total of 5 Calvin interims to East Africa, in Kenya and Ethiopia specifically, which have focused on geography and the search for clean water.


Joe KuilemaJoe Kuilema
Assistant Professor of Social Work
Phone: 616-526-6489 | Office: Spoelhof Center 225

Courses taught: IDS 355
Background: Professor Kuilema graduated from Calvin College, majoring in Social Work and minoring in Religion and Psychology. He received a master’s in Social Work from University of Michigan and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. from Michigan State in Social Work. Before coming to Calvin, Professor Kuilema worked at Camp Tall Turf (a Christian camp that focuses on racial reconciliation), at Wedgwood Christian Services (where he worked with juvenile offenders), and at Michigan Peaceworks (an anti-war community organization). He also did a year-long internship with World Renew in Nigeria working in community development and doing evaluation work. Focusing on the macro level of social work, Professor Kuilema’s academic interests include international social work, restorative justice, community organizing, and community social systems. Kuilema has led 3 interim trips to Liberia, where he has been working with Mother Patern College since 2009 to develop a social work program. In 2018, he will be leading Calvin’s semester to Ghana.

Todd Vanden BergTodd Vanden Berg
Professor of Sociology
Phone: 616-526-6705 | Office: Spoelhof Center 227

Courses taught: IDS 201, SOC 253
Background: Professor Vanden Berg has been teaching at Calvin for 20 years and is Calvin’s only cultural anthropologist. He graduated from Calvin with a major in Sociology and later went to State University of New York at Buffalo for a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology. Professor Vanden Berg did his fieldwork in Nigeria, studying involuntary resettlement. From his studies, he became interested in traditional religious beliefs, looking at their connection to global Christianity in West Africa. Now, Professor Vanden Berg’s fieldwork focuses on development issues in Jamaica. He studies culture, host communities, tourism, and their connections to development. He has also done research looking specifically at host perceptions of tourism. Every other year, Professor Vanden Berg leads an interim trip to Jamaica which studies sustainable development, ecotourism, the history of the slave trade, and its impact on development today. He is also working on a project to study the impact of off-campus interims on students long-term.


Other Professors Teaching IDS Courses

Kurt Ver BeekKurt Ver Beek
Professor of Sociology, Director of Honduras Justice Studies Program
Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Courses taught: STHO 210, 211, 212
Background: Professor Ver Beek graduated from Calvin with a B.A. in Sociology, and later went on to get an M.A. in Human Resource Development from Azusa Pacific University and a Ph.D. from Cornell University in Development Sociology. Dr. Ver Beek and his wife Jo Ann started out working in Central America with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (now called World Renew). Kurt and Jo Ann, who have lived in Honduras since 1988, now direct Calvin’s Justice Studies semester in Honduras, which focuses on studying issues of injustice throughout different sectors of the country. Additionally, Dr. Ver Beek is one of the founding members of the Association for a More Just Society, a Christian justice organization focusing on issues of injustice in Honduras. Their organization fights for the rights of victims of violence, land and labor abuse, and government corruption, and they are devoted to pursuing justice for the poor. Dr. Ver Beek’s academic interests include the long-term effect of short-term missions, the impact of the maquila industry, and the role of faith in development.


Adel AbadeerAdel Abadeer
Professor of Economics
Phone: 616-526-6199 | Office: North Hall 178

Courses taught: Econ 222, 337, 338
Background: Prof. Abadeer has a Ph.D. in Economics from Boston University (1992). His research interests include new institutional economics, cultural economics, development economics, and economics of discrimination. Prior to coming to Calvin, Dr. Abadeer taught at Boston University and Tufts University, and did research at the Boston Institute for Developing Economies. Prof. Abadeer’s publications includes “Culture and Gender Discrimination in the Arab World” (forthcoming, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), “The Entrapment of the Poor into Involuntary Labor: Understanding the Worldwide Practice of Modern-Day Slavery” (Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 2008), and “Seeking Redemptive Diversity in Christian Institutions of Higher Education: Challenges and Hopes from Within,” Journal of Christian Higher Education, 2009. He also has recently published a book on modern-day slavery.


David DornbosDavid Dornbos
Professor of Biology
Phone: 616-526-8578 | Office: Devries Hall 205

Courses taught: BIO 364
Background: Dr. Dornbos has a B.S. in Biology from Calvin College, an M.S. in Crop Production and Physiology from The Ohio State University and a Ph.D. in Crop Production in Physiology from Iowa State University. He has taught at the Au Sable Institute Great Lakes and Iowa State University. He has been a member of the research management team at Sygenta Seeds, Inc. as the Global Head of Seed Production Research, the North American Director of Product Development, and a Field Agronomist. He has been on the advisory boards of the Pierce Cedar Creek Institute (Hastings, MI), the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, the Genesis Community of Transformation (Phnom Penh, Cambodia), the Integrated Solutions Asia Cooperative (Phnom Penh, Cambodia), and the Integrated Science Research Institute. Dr. Dornbos has a strong interest in agricultural issues.


Evert Van Der HeideEvert Van Der Heide
Professor of Economics
Phone: 616-526-6099 | Office: North Hall 182

Courses taught: ECON 221, 237, 337
Background: Evert Van Der Heide joined the Calvin faculty in 1982 after teaching at several state universities and at Dordt College. His primary fields of interest include the economics of developing countries (primarily at the broader, macro level), business cycles and forecasting, and the structure of the West Michigan economy. Professor Van Der Heide worked with government officials in Indonesia on several occasions and continues a strong interest in Asian economies. He teaches the course on Asian economies at Calvin. Professor Van Der Heide participates in forecasting conferences at the University of Michigan and at the Chicago Federal Reserve each year, submitting macroeconomic forecasts for the latter, which become part of a consensus forecast developed at the conference. Professor Van Der Heide has led about nine classes to Europe during past interims and served in Budapest as Director for the Study in Hungary Program for one year. He coordinates the Economics Department's link with Michigan State University's graduate program in the Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Economics.

Joel WestraJoel Westra
Associate Professor of Political Science
Phone: 616-526-6727 | Office: DeVos Center 261H

Courses taught: POLS 309, 207, 304, 319
Background: Joel H. Westra is a summa cum laude graduate of the Honors College at the University of Houston, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in May 1998. He went on to The University of Chicago, where he completed his M.A. in social sciences in 2000 and his Ph.D. in political science in 2004. He served as Visiting Lecturer in The Committee on International Relations at The University of Chicago and as post-doctoral Fellow in the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University. Professor Westra joined the faculty at Calvin College in the fall of 2007. He teaches courses in the international relations curriculum and is also a Pre-law advisor. Professor Westra recently published an article entitled "Cumulative Legitimation, Prudential Restraint, and the Maintenance of International Order: A Re-examination of the UN Charter System" and a book chapter entitled "International Order the American Way: Selective Multilateralism and European Consternation." He is currently working on a book examining efforts to reform the post-World War II global security order.

Becca McBrideBecca McBride
Assistant Professor of Political Science
Phone: 616-526-7023 | Office: DeVos Center 261G

Courses taught: POLS 322, 207, 214, 228
Background: Becca McBride earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Belmont University in Political Science in 2002. She then earned a Master of Arts degree from Georgetown University in Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies in 2004. At Georgetown she specialized in Chechnya, violent ethnic conflict, and terrorism. While at Georgetown she started working for the US Government as a Russian analyst; she continued as an analyst after graduation. When she relocated back to Nashville, TN with her family, she started as an instructor at Belmont University. After teaching at Belmont for four years, she decided to return to graduate school and pursue a PhD. In 2013, she graduated from Vanderbilt University with a PhD in political science. At Vanderbilt she focused on International Relations and Political Theory. She joined the Political Science faculty at Calvin College in fall 2013. Dr. McBride’s academic interests include intercountry adoption, international diffusion processes, ethnic conflict, Russia and the former Soviet Union, comparative social welfare, non-state agents in the international system, intelligence and foreign policy, and network analysis.

James SkillenJames Skillen
Assistant Professor of Geology, Geography & Environmental Studies
Phone: 616-526-7546 | Office: North Hall 077

Courses taught: ENST 210
Background: Professor Skillen graduated from Wheaton College with a B.S. in Environmental Science. After working for the US Forest Service for a few years, he attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for a M.A. in Theology, and later went on to get a Ph.D. from Cornell University in Natural Resource Policy. Professor Skillen taught at Valparaiso University for two years as part of a teaching fellowship before coming to teach at Calvin. He has published two books: The Nation’s Largest Landlord, which is about the Bureau of Land Management in the American west, and Federal Ecosystem Management, which connects ecology and law by looking at the political and intellectual history of ecosystem management. He is currently working on a book about violence against federal land managers in the west. Most of his work focuses on the intersection of theology, ethics, and environmental policy, as well as how political systems shape the environment. Professor Skillen has also spent the past two years teaching at the Oregon Extension.