Luckman Distinguished Teaching Awards
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3 | 4 | 5
Judith Carney, Geography
or research? Cultural geography professor Judith Carney doesn't
see it as an either/or choice. She's never so inspired -- or inspiring
-- as when she's sharing her current research with students. After
a recent lecture on how African slaves brought rice-cultivation
systems to colonial South Carolina - her current focus - Carney's
students actually clapped, she recalls with amazement.
been in a lot of really remote places in Latin America and West
Africa, and I draw on those experiences in my lectures. I think
that's very attractive to students," she says, explaining the enthusiastic
response. "I also try to teach appreciation for different cultural
experiences -- and students feel empowered by that."
own cultural experience is quite different from that of most academics.
She grew up fatherless, on welfare, in Detroit -- without a family
car, without books, and with no promise of higher education. She
became the first college student in her family to earn a liberal
arts degree, and then ventured out into the world. She worked as
a potter, a stewardess, a waitress -- and traveled as much as she
could. In Latin America, her attention was "riveted" by the rain
forest and by the peoples' poverty; eager to learn more, she applied
and was accepted to graduate school in geography at UC Berkeley.
briefly worked in international development, but "didn't find many
idealists there." So she brought her idealism to UCLA in 1989 and
a few years later became the first tenured female geography professor
tell me I help them think critically," she says with modesty. "I
don't know how -- I just do it. A little bit of magic happens. Plus,
I'm enthusiastic; I'm not cynical."
alone, is worthy of applause.