Four faculty members — experts, authors and researchers in their respective fields — received promotions at Hobart and William Smith Colleges this summer. President Mark D. Gearan announced that the Board of Trustees named Jodi Dean, an author and expert in contemporary political theory, as a full professor. Three other faculty members have been advanced to associate professors: Kevin Dunn and Cedric Johnson, also of the Political Science Department; and Erin Pelkey of the Chemistry Department.
Dean is the author of a wide-ranging body of work including “Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace,” “Publicity’s Secret: How Technoculture Capitalizes on Democracy” and “Žižek’s Politics.” Her most recent work, “Reformatting Politics: Information Technology and Global Civil Society,” co-edited with Jon Anderson and Geert Lovink, deals with the way advances in global communication and technology are shaping the global political sphere and defining a new role for Non-Governmental Organizations.
Over nearly a decade and a half at the Colleges, Dean has seen her research and writing style evolve to meet the demands of the classroom and her own rigorous scholarship. “My work has become more approachable to non-expert readers and more empirical since I started at HWS,” she said. “This may be because of the challenge of undergraduate teaching — trying to make complex ideas comprehensible without losing nuance.”
“I spend my time worrying about the fundamental questions facing all of us,” said Dean, “the meaning of justice, the hope for equality, the lure of freedom, the challenge of incommensurability, the unavoidability of power.”
As a teacher, she hopes to ignite a similar passion in her students. “If these kinds of questions don’t already keep my students awake at night, then political theory isn’t for them,” she said. “My favorite part of classroom experience is when the students start arguing with each other over a theoretical point—When they forget I am there and are so caught up in interpreting a text, in demonstrating the validity of their reading, that hands are waving and people are interrupting and arguing and everyone is caught up in trying to figure out the best answer.”
Dean, who joined the Colleges in 1993, received the B.A. from Princeton University and the M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University and has previously been the recipient of the Faculty Award for Scholarship. She has been invited to speak around the globe, in front of audiences in Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, and the United Kingdom.
The three faculty members receiving promotions to associate professor have been with the Colleges since 2001.
Dunn, an expert on international relations and politics and development in Africa, holds a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College, a master’s degree from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia; and a doctorate from Boston University. His book “Imagining the Congo: The International Relations of Identity” was published in 2003.
Dunn’s published works also include three co-edited books: “Africa’s Challenge to International Relations Theory” (with Timothy M. Shaw; 2001), “Identity and Global Politics” (with Patricia Goff; 2004) and most recently “African Guerrillas” (with Morten Boas; 2007). He has also been published in the journals Millennium: Journal of International Studies, Third World Quarterly, Geopolitics, Journal of Third World Studies, African Studies Review, Current History, and International Insights. Dunn is a member of the Editorial Boards of the journals African Security, Journal of Small States, and International Studies Quarterly. He also serves as a visiting professor for the Faculty of Development Studies at Mbarara University in Uganda.
Since Johnson arrived on campus six years ago, he has been working on a book “Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics,” which will be published by the University of Minnesota Press in November. While this first book critically examines the Black Power movement and post-segregation African American politics, his current research project will situate the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster within a broader critique of neoliberal governance. A civic-minded and committed teacher, Johnson incorporates community service projects into his classes and leads students on out-of-classroom excursions touring local factories or working on clean up projects in the Gulf Coast region.
Johnson’s articles and book reviews have appeared in New Political Science, Monthly Review, and In These Times. He is a member of the American Political Science Association, the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society. In Rochester, N.Y., he is involved with local labor activities and has served on the Rochester Labor Lyceum. Johnson received his B.A. at Southern University, his first M.A. at Ohio State University, and both his second M.A. and his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Pelkey, an organic chemist, is a leader in developing new methods for synthesizing heterocyclic compounds including molecules with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activity. He has contributed to a number of scientific books and journals, including Journal of Organic Chemistry, Tetrahedron Letters and Synthesis and for the past several years he has written a review chapter on pyrrole chemistry in the annual series “Progress in Heterocyclic Chemistry,” published by Elsevier.
Pelkey earned his B.A. from Carleton College, his Ph.D. from Dartmouth, and was a National Institute of Health postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, the International Society of Heterocyclic Chemistry and Sigma Xi.
Photos can be found at http://dev.hws.edu/g/main.php?g2_view=core.ShowItem&g2_itemId=35632