Professor of geography Hilda Kurtz has a strong belief in educational equity and diversity, as well as a great ability to tap into students’ curiosity in the classroom:
My responsibilities include research, teaching and service. My research concerns alternative food politics, and more recently, organic certification. I currently teach courses in human geography at the introductory, upper-division and graduate levels. In addition to introductory human geography, I teach urban geography and critical geographies of food, as well as seminars in qualitative research methods and race and racialization. My service at the university centers on issues of diversity and inclusion. With Franklin College Senior Associate Dean Kecia Thomas, I co-founded the Diversity and Inclusion Graduate Fellows (DIG) Program, which brings together graduate students from across the Franklin College to help develop multicultural competencies for diverse and inclusive classrooms.
How do you describe the scope and impact of your research or scholarship to people outside of your field?
I study alternative food politics, focusing on how people carve out spaces of practice in critique of the industrial food system. This research focus offers insight into how ethically informed economic networks are fostered, challenged and transformed at the edges of an industrial food economy. It also highlights the pervasive power of the forces of a globalized agrifood system to shape national and regional economies and cultural practices. My current research exploring organic honey certification in Cuba seeks to shed light on how intricate and changeable networks of trust and expertise can be, in relation to economic forces.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
Tapping into and channeling students’ curiosity in the classroom (and beyond) energizes my approach to research; it reminds me that unanswered questions abound. I am fortunate to be able to teach multiple courses that synergize directly with my research interests in the critical geographies of food. Teaching these and other courses has shaped my role in several projects and resulting papers. Most recently, I am using photo-elicitation interviews (interviews guided by conversation about photographs) as a crossover data collection method. I have assigned students to use them in class-based research projects, and am collaborating with UGA colleagues on a project with the Atlanta Community Food Bank that incorporates photo-elicitation interviews among a mix of methods.
Another one of our best. Kurtz has led workshops based on the SEED project, which provides access to leadership training on campus and in the classroom. Alongside her inspiring instruction, Dr. Kurtz has created important UGA resources for graduate students planning to become teachers at any level.