East Carolina University's 2009 nominee for the Excellence in Teaching Award is Dr. Derek Alderman, cultural/historical geographer in the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Alderman earned a B.A. in history with a minor in geography from Georgia Southern College followed by an M.A. and Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Georgia. He joined the ECU faculty in 1998. His interests include cultural geography, historical geography, the American South, geographies of public memory, cultural and heritage tourism, race relations and social justice, and place images in the media. He brings to his teaching outstanding research skills and a strong belief in service. Dr. Ken Foote, Professor of Geography and Chair at the University of Colorado notes, "Dr. Alderman is a remarkable young scholar who has already established an international reputation for his work in social and cultural geography... I can count only a handful of career scholars whose work matches Professor Alderman's in its creative blend of theory and practice."
Dr. Alderman brings his enthusiasm for his subject to his undergraduate and graduate classrooms. He is a committed teacher whose goal is to develop his students' abilities to think analytically and critically. He seeks to make his classroom "a place of critical dialogue and investigation," and his "driving desire is to convince students of the important role that geography plays in shaping the activities and issues of daily life. Essential to this task is encouraging students to think analytically about their place and impact on the world while also asking them to transcend their own culture-specific worldviews." He asks them to stretch and grow. To support understanding, he uses technology. Ina lesson on democracy and mobility, for example, he incorporates an audiotaped interview about African American travel during the Jim Crow era to help students understand how mobility is not simply about getting from point A to point B. Rather, people's movements take on social meaning (positive and negative).
His chair says, "Derek is arguably the most talented and devoted educator I have served with over 33 years in higher education." He "has had remarkable effects upon the quality of our instructional and research programs and the lives of his colleagues and our undergraduate and graduate students. He models the intersection between teaching and research as well as any professor I have ever known... Derek is a very demanding professor... Students are expected to perform at a very high level while under his leadership. Their resulting level of achievement is quite remarkable ranging from research presentations at regional and national levels to publications in some of our premiere journals. He gets substantially more out of students than typical professors would ever consider possible."
Dr. Alderman's previous teaching awards include the Distinguished University Teaching Award, National Council for Geographic Education; the Robert L. Jones Award for Outstanding Teaching, ECU; the Scholar-Teacher Award, Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, ECU; and the Board of Governors Distinguished Professor of Teaching Award, ECU.