Meet Robert Ross, Assistant Professor of Global Cultural Studies
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Robert Ross, Ph.D., is a geographer whose teaching and research interests center on the geographies of capitalism. His areas of specialty include the Middle East and North America. Ross earned his bachelor’s degree in anthropology/sociology from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and his master’s degree and doctorate degree in geography from University College London and Syracuse University, respectively.
How did you become interested in geography and global issues?
I first became interested in geography during an undergraduate urban anthropology course taught by Dr. Paul Stoller at West Chester University. Dr. Stoller’s work really crosses disciplinary boundaries and his course introduced me to a lot of work in geography. One of the pieces that I read for my research paper for his course was by a guy named Don Mitchell, a distinguished professor of geography at Syracuse University who ended up being my Ph.D. advisor. I’ve been very fortunate to have such extraordinarily brilliant and generous mentors.
Most of my work centered on the United States until I moved to Beirut the year after I finished my Ph.D. While working as a visiting professor of American studies at the American University of Beirut, I started new research on gentrification and geopolitics in contemporary Beirut. I also spent a lot of time in the Palestinian camps in Lebanon, where I began learning about the Israel-Palestine conflict.
In any case, it’s impossible (or inadvisable) now to ignore global processes, wherever your teaching and research might be centered.
Why did you decide to teach at Point Park University?
Point Park is exactly the kind of university in which I had long wanted to work. The class sizes are small, the students are eager to learn and there is a lot of room for creative teaching, scholarship and curriculum development. Plus, it’s in a great city, which has become my adopted home.
Describe your teaching style.
It depends on the class but, in general, I try to get students interested in learning the course material and to recognize how the course material is reflected in the world outside. Above all, I strive to treat my students as adults, with respect, and, on a very human level, as equals.
Overall, what would you like students to gain from your classes?
I want to help students see things from new perspectives; I want them to love to learn; I want them to learn how to think, speak, and write critically, analytically and polemically; and most importantly, I want them to want to do something about social injustice. I hope that students who take my courses recognize the systemic problems of the world and work toward fixing them. More concretely, I try to give my students the tools they need to go to and succeed in graduate school and/or the professional world.