At Mount Holyoke, Professor of Geography Girma Kebbede brings an interdisciplinary perspective on ecological problems to his classroom.
He is known for classes introducing students to the human dimensions of global environmental changes, as well as classes focusing on how ecological problems relate to social, economic, and political development issues in the Horn of Africa. Now, as the recipient of a 2014-2015 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant, he is bringing his expertise to Debre Berhan University (DBU) in central Ethiopia.
Kebbede is one of approximately 1,100 U.S. faculty and professionals who will travel abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program in 2014-2015. Fulbright Scholar recipients are selected by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars, which administers the program for the U.S. Department of State.
At DBU, Kebbede will teach a course on urbanization and the environment, as well as one on natural resources management. He’ll also assist with curriculum development and editorial activities, lead faculty workshops on research methods, fieldwork, and pedagogy, and give public lectures at other universities in the country.
“Ethiopia is in a phase of rapid transformation. In the past two decades, the country has established no less than 20 new higher educational institutions. Debre Berhan University is one of the newest additions, and I want to help with its continuing efforts to develop curricula for its expanding social science faculty,” says Kebbede.
For more than a decade, Kebbede has been researching and writing on the human impacts of environmental change in Ethiopia. In 2004, he published Living With Urban Environmental Risks: The Case of Ethiopia (School of Oriental and African Studies and King’s College). The book stemmed from his 2001-2002 Fulbright Teaching/Research Award at Haramaya University in Eastern Oromiya, Ethiopia.
“My research this time is intended for a college textbook on conservation of natural resources in Ethiopia. It will shed light on the impact and significance of human activity on lowland and highland ecosystems and explore debates about deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, water pollution, biodiversity and depletion, and conservation and development.”
Kebbede, who has taught at Mount Holyoke since 1982, was born and raised in Ethiopia. He is the author of The State and Development in Ethiopia (Humanities Press, 1992) and Sudan’s Predicaments: Civil War, Displacement and Ecological Degradation (Ashgate, 1999). In addition, Kebbede is a member of the International Geographical Union’s Commission on Hazards and Risks.