Dr. Hirsch received his BA in Social Thought and Political Economy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and his MA and Ph.D. in Politics and History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research interests include political theory, ethics, public memory, transitional justice, indigenous cultural politics, and ancient thought and literature. His courses range across the history of political thought, both in the West and beyond. They include Ethics & Society, Political Freedom, Classical Political Thought, Art & Politics, and After Evil.
In the Honors College, Dr. Hirsch teaches several courses, including Methods of Inquiry, which explores interdisciplinary theories of knowledge, belief, and disbelief.
Born and raised in Fairbanks, Kate has deep affection and connection for Alaska and the people who chose to make it their home. After earning her Bachelors of Arts in Community Development and Graphic Design from Portland State Unversity she decided to return home and began working for the University of Alaska in 2009. Currently, she works for the Honors College as an advisor, coordinator, and all-around supporter of student success. She is also nearing the end of her graduate work and hopes to earn her Master's in Communication in 2022.
Climate Scholar Program Staff
Dr. Katie Villano Spellman was born and raised in Alaska. She has dedicated her career to the interface of social justice and science and has found the overlap for her passion in both areas through climate change education and research. Katie received her bachelor's in Biology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. She worked in homeless services and co-founded a street newspaper with members of the homeless community in Tacoma, Washington before returning home to Fairbanks to pursue a Masters and Ph.D. in Biological Sciences at UAF. In between the two graduate degrees, she worked as the ecological education program director at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, in Homer, Alaska. Her research is split evenly between plant ecology and education research, with public engagement in and access to the scientific process as a unifying theme in both areas. Her ecological research focuses on how a warming climate influences boreal and tundra plant communities through non-native species introductions, changes in phenology, and wildfire. Her education research investigates the effectiveness of different climate change learning strategies and science engagement models. She collaborates regularly with students, teachers, and community members across Alaska (currently in more than 35 communities) and in 122 countries around the globe to address climate change issues and increase access to science at local and global scales.
Kristin Timm studies and teaches communication to help people work together to solve complex environmental problems. Drawing from theories in organizational communication, science and technology studies, and science and environmental communication, her research primarily focuses on interactions amongst people, teams, organizations, and the processes that enable or constrain the movement of information across different contexts and settings. Most of her work has been in the context of climate change science, ans as a social scientist, she uses qualitative, quantitative, and computational methods in her work.
Kristin is currently a postdoctoral researcher with the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center at the International Arctic Research Center at UAF. She has a PhD in communication from George Mason University where she worked with the Center for Climate Change Communication. Kristin studied rural development and natural resource management for her Bachelor’s degree and science communication for her Master’s degree — both at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In addition to her formal education, she has over a decade of experience working as a science and environmental communication practitioner and has also been engaged in several advocacy organizations and civic efforts related to action on climate change.
Climate Scholar Program Coordinator
Dr. Alexander counts herself very fortunate to be joining the Climate Scholars program as its first coordinator. Her role will accelerate the Honors College initiative to equip outstanding undergraduate students from all disciplines with experience, knowledge and skills to lead and to act on the challenges presented by climate change that manifest on so many dimensions. As well as supporting the overall program, she will contribute through her own research agendas in maritime geographies and the role of place in the production of scientific knowledge.
Alexander earned dual undergraduate degrees from UAF in Political Science and Journalism followed by an MSc in Industrial Relations from the London School of Economics. She worked first in the non-profit sector followed by a fifteen-year stint at Microsoft in business software development while raising two children, Celia, and Everett Jackson. She left the company in 2014 and returned to the U.K. to earn both an MSc (Distinction) in Geopolitics and Security and a Ph.D. in Political Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London.
She is Anchorage-born and grew up in Fairbanks. Her mother (Dr. Vera Alexander) was the first woman to graduate from UAF with a Ph.D. (in Marine Science) and stayed at UAF where she served as Dean of College of Fisheries and Ocean Science. After many years away, the younger Dr. Alexander returned to Fairbanks to edit her thesis in relative peace (a biography of the Bering Sea Patrol Ship Northland), spend valuable time with her mother, become reacquainted with old friends and experience Alaska in ways both familiar and new. One can go home again, but it will be a different place! Her two Spinoni Italiano bird dogs Guido Gelato Cioccolato and Tobi Moray accompany her on many adventures, she cares for two Icelandic horses, plays the banjo sufficiently to clear a room, and dabbles in various creative pursuits.
She says it is ultimately always a pleasure, even when it is momentarily not, to work with students and colleagues to advance our knowledge and skills and gain intellectual and pragmatic progress on a variety of research subjects. She loves teaching, and in particular encouraging the development of independent critical thinking and an awareness of the role of geography in historical and contemporary inquiry, a virtually unlimited and perpetually fascinating work surface.