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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/wordpress.com

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.


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

Kristi Branham is director and associate professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at WKU. She received her PhD in literature from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Branham’s teaching and research expertise include women’s studies, feminist theory, social theory, and U.S. women’s popular culture. She has over twenty years of college teaching experience and has received several awards for teaching excellence. She has published articles in Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, Journal of American Studies, Literature and Film Quarterly, and contributed to the edited collection Home Sweat Home.


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: http://www.facebook.com/#!/molly.kerby



 Image of Cheryl Hopson

Dr. Cheryl Hopson

Assistant Professor

Dr. Cheryl R. Hopson is an assistant professor of African American Studies and Gender & Women's Studies. She specializes in 20th century African-American and American literature and culture, Third Wave feminism, and generational Black feminisms. Her teaching and scholarship are interdisciplinary in scope, and highlight the interconnections between literature, culture and society, drawing on the disciplines of literary studies, race and gender studies, Black feminist theory, sociology, history, anthropology, and family studies.

Dr. Hopson’s scholarship examines dramatizations of Black mother/daughter relationships, Black women’s’ mothering experiences, African American family dynamics, and the establishment of Black and Black-identified feminist subjectivities. She is currently engaged in a long-term book project on Pulitzer prize-winning novelist, Alice Walker, and Walker’s daughter, Third Wave feminist writer and intellectual, Rebecca (nee Leventhal) Walker.

Dr. Hopson’s publications include: “Zora Neale Hurston as Womanist” in Critical Insights: Zora Neale Hurston, “The U.S. Women’s Liberation Movement and Black Feminist ‘Sisterhood’” in Provocations: A Transnational Reader in the History of Feminist Thought; “Alice Walker’s Womanist Maternal” in Women’s Studies, and “The Shifting Selves and Realities of Rebecca (nee Leventhal) Walker in Watchung Review.

She is a regular presenter at regional, national and international academic conferences on literature, race, gender, and popular culture, such as the College Language Association, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the Society for the Study of American Women Writers, the Popular Culture Association, and the National Women’s Studies Association.

 A poet as well, Finishing Line Press published her chapbooks Black Notes (2013) and Fragile (2017). She has also published poems in the Toronto Quarterly, Border Crossings, DoveTales: Refugees and the Displaced, Wraith Infirmity Muses, Ounwapi Literary Journal. You can find her poetry reviews at TheThePoetry.Com and Horseless Press.


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 Last Modified 2/28/19