Kerr brings gender curriculum knowledge to UWP

October 10, 2003

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2003_10_10.jpgPLATTEVILLE -Robert Kerr has joined the team at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville as an assistant professor of geography.

Kerr teaches political geography, geography in Europe and world regional geography this semester. In spring, 2004, Kerr will bring a new class called gender in geography into the curriculum.

The topic of gender as it relates to geography is being pushed to the forefront of an emerging field. The course gender in geography will look at masculinity as well as feminism.

"The course will be valuable as gender is something that influences our daily lives -- especially at UWP where there are more males than females," said Kerr. "This course will hopefully bring a greater awareness of one other as well as oneself."

For his doctorate, Kerr researched Xenophobia, which is simply defined as the fear or hatred of outsiders or foreigners. For his dissertation, titled "The Territorial Imperative of Xenophobia - Putting the Extreme - Right in its Place," Kerr researched the experiences of an immigrant communities within a larger host society.

His research took him to southern Spain and northern Belgium. His project focused on Muslim immigrants. Northern Belgium fostered an active anti-immigrant political movement while southern Spain did not. Kerr's research was based off of group adjustments to the respective societies. Gender can be an added layer that an immigrant has to overcome, in addition to their cultural differences, such as language or religion differences.

"Geography matters. The places where things happen are more than places where things happen. Factors such as the history of a country or societal impressions are clues as to why things happen in certain areas," said Kerr.

Kerr is involved in the Dubuque Riverfront Redevelopment Project. He wants to focus on the effect of how people perceive Dubuque. Kerr plans to conduct surveys to measure perception of residents of Dubuque and people located in the direct region around the city. Kerr hopes to get the students involved in this project.

"Our department tries to focus on field experiences," said Kerr. "The only way to experience geography is exploring the world you can kick."

Kerr has previous experience in the classroom as he taught part-time at the University of Oregon and part-time for two years at Dartmouth College, N.H.

"It is exciting to have a classroom connection with a student. If I help a student to look at something differently, or the world differently, that is so much more rewarding to me than research," said Kerr. "In no other setting does one have an excuse to share something that they are passionate about for an uninterrupted 52 minutes."

Kerr received his bachelor's degree in history from Grand Valley State University, located in Michigan in 1996. He received his master's degree from the University of South Carolina in geography in 1998, and in 2002, he received a Ph. D. in geography at the University of Oregon.

Kerr is married to his wife Lisa and has a son, Payton. He enjoys swimming and spending time with his family. His most recent pastime is flying kites with his son Payton.

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