Friday, April 20, 2018 - 11:59am

Professor of Sociology and Women's Studies Patricia Richards is known as a demanding instructor who dares her students to accept challenges that make them want to think on a level beyond a single course or grade:

Fostering intellectual excitement in the classroom that inspires students, she helps build some of UGA’s most forward-thinking interdisciplinary programs.

In addition to her joint appointment in the sociology department and the Institute for Women’s Studies, Richards is a core faculty member in the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute as well as a faculty affiliate in the Institute of Native American Studies. Her special focus on global and transnational content has led her to introduce a series of courses focused on global issues, particularly those related to Latin America, where she conducts research.

“She has led us to increase the quality of our programs through re-evaluation of our policies and curriculum,” said LACSI director Richard Gordon. “We have been able to teach more students as well as improve the impact of our major, minor and graduate certificate.”

This global perspective translates to a passionate approach to critical thinking and research methods that pushes students to develop a broad understanding of the world. Many of her students have said they felt empowered by Richards to take responsibility for their own learning.

“She celebrated the power of my research while asking how and why it mattered,” said Stephanie Shelton, assistant professor at the University of Alabama College of Education.

“Dr. Richards’ teaching style inspired me to take charge of my own education,” said former student Abigail Kahn. “I was enthusiastic to engage with a leader and a teacher who has strong convictions yet can look at her students and allow them to form their own opinions.”

Richards has served on 30 dissertation or master’s committees and directed the work of eight graduate students. Her blend of interdisciplinary expertise has led her to serve on committees of students in numerous disciplines, including political science, journalism, geography, anthropology, public health, kinesiology and higher education. Richards has chaired the biennial Women and Girls in Georgia Conference, which brings scholars and activists from the local, state and national communities to UGA.

An active and engaged mentor, Richards empowers students across a range a disciplines as a positive force for change on our campus community and quite beyond. Congratulations to Dr. Richards, and to the many students who have emerged as teachers by the light of her lumnious example.