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Western Kentucky University

Graduate Faculty

Graduate Faculty

A picture of Jane Olmsted, the director of Gender and Women's Studies Dr. Jane Olmsted

I'm the coordinator and advisor of the Social Responsibility & Sustainable Communities Master's program, and department head of Diversity & Community Studies, which houses those programs, along with African American Studies and Gerontology/Aging Studies.

The SRSC is a cohort program, which means that our students move through the degree requirements together. The core courses emphasize "learning in action" and the electives allow students to emphasize areas of interest—gender, aging, community planning, environment, and (crucially) sustainability as it relates to social networks and long-range, ethically sound thinking.

It's conventional wisdom that "online courses can't replace f2f courses." Maybe, but online courses offer many benefits—if they're done right, and for many people. I enjoy the range of students we get in our online courses—from all over the country and with widely divergent backgrounds and interests. Our discussions are challenging and stimulating. As someone trained in literary studies, I've also been impressed with how well our written discussions proceed—reflection, response, questioning, disagreeing, changing—it's very rewarding.

I earned a Ph.D. in English, with a minor in feminist studies, at the University of Minnesota, in 1996. My scholarly work has focused on American, African American, and Native American literature, with an emphasis on race and gender, and I have articles in Contemporary Literature and African American Review, and another about Langston Hughes' fiction that originally appeared in Black Orpheus and was reprinted in Short Story Criticism. My colleague Elizabeth Oakes and I founded and edited the Kentucky Feminist Writers Series, which led to three volumes, of poetry, fiction, and life writing: Writing Who We Are, Telling Stories and I to I.

I love my profession and believe strongly that social change is best served by people with a sound education, with a keen understanding of how gender, race, class, and other elements of difference shape us as individuals and the worlds in which we live. My chapbook, Tree Forms, was published in 2011 by Finishing Line Press. I keep a blog at http:www.janeolmsted/

I'm married to a professor of philosophy and religion at a community college about an hour from Bowling Green. We have three sons, the youngest of whom was killed in October, 2009. This makes my work on family all the more precious to me. Our oldest son recently completed his MFA in ceramics at the University of Florida, and our middle son is enjoying his work in mortgage banking in California. We have two beautiful granddaughters and one grandson.


 Dr. Molly Kerby Dr. Molly Kerby

I am an associate professor in the Department of Diversity & Community Studies at Western Kentucky University. I teach primarily in the Diversity and Community Studies undergraduate major and the Masters of Arts in Social Responsibility and Sustainable Communities (SRSC) graduate program. I also teach courses in the Gender & Women’s Studies minor and the Global Pathways to Sustainability and Gender & Women’s Studies graduate certificate programs.

I completed my undergraduate degree in sociology and environmental science in 1994 and my master’s degree in public health/environmental health in 1999 at Western Kentucky University. In 2007, I completed my PhD program in educational leadership at the University of Louisville. My current research focuses on issues pertaining to sense of place, food justice & politics, social policy, community-based research, and sustainability/resilience. My most recent research and publication projects include the following:

Kerby, M.B. (2015). Toward a new predictive model of student retention in higher education: An application of classical sociological theory. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 17(1).

Kerby, M.B., Branham, K.B., & Mallinger, G.M. (2014). Consumer-based higher education: The uncaring of learning. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 14(5).

Kerby, M.B., & Mallinger, G.M. (2014). Beyond sustainability: A new conceptual model, eJournal of Public Affairs, 3(2).

Main, M. E., Wright, D. G., Kerby, M. B. (2013). Nursing student voices: Reflections on an international service learning experience. Kentucky Nurse, 61(1), 10-11.

Kerby, M. B., Adams, C. J. (2011). In Dr. Alice E. Ginsberg and Dr. Karen Bojar (Ed.), The Unmeating of Like Minds: The Process IS Political. Towson University Press: And Finally We Meet.

In addition to my interests in teaching and research, I am the principle investigator of an interdisciplinary community/school gardening project in an at-risk neighborhood in Bowling Green, KY.  I am also continuing work in Belize with a student-led craft cooperative and sales agreement between the village council of Gales Point and Western Kentucky University's Department of Diversity and Community Studies. The goal is to sell crafts produced by the villagers in the United States with all proceeds going to support the community of Gales Point.

Aside from scholarly interests and activities, I also enjoy music (my first love), cooking, kayaking, and gardening. I am a member of a folk group called, “Just Us” – check us out!

Visit my sites:

Follow me on Twitter:  drmollykerby

Facebook site:!/molly.kerby


A picture of Kristi Branham, assistant professor of Gender & Women's Studies Dr. Kristi Branham

I'm the director of the Gender & Women's Studies Program.   My academic background is in literature and cultural studies with specialization in late nineteenth and early twentieth century American women’s popular culture. I earned my PhD from the University of Kentucky with an emphasis in feminist and social theory. This background has helped me to develop an interdisciplinary approach to both my research and teaching, calling on discourse analyses primarily from disciplines in the humanities. My research centers on the social and cultural meanings surrounding the concept of work in the United States and the ways certain kinds of labor become associated with women, in particular the type of labor we refer to as “women’s work.” This work includes the gamut of responsibilities required to maintain domestic space and to nurture its inhabitants from cleaning bathrooms and picking up dirty socks to comforting a sick child. I am particularly interested in the way this work is represented in popular culture as an expression of women’s love and care. I am also interested in the ways women’s caring labor is expressed in areas outside the domestic space.

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 Last Modified 8/17/15