2020 Keynote Speaker
Dr. Derek H. Alderman
Professor of Geography, University of Tennessee
Betty Lynn Hendrickson Professor of Social Science, University of Tennessee
Past President, American Association of Geographers (2017-18)
Dr. Alderman’s research and teaching specialties include race, public memory, heritage tourism, critical place name study--often within the context of the African American freedom struggle. He is founder and co-coordinator of Tourism RESET (tourismreset.com), a multidisciplinary research and public outreach with affiliated researchers and industry specialists from over 20 universities and organizations in the U.S. RESET is on the leading edge of analyzing the social and spatial injustices in tourism and advocating for travel reform as an arena for racial reconciliation and reparative memory-work at heritage destinations.Derek H. Alderman is a Professor of Geography and the Betty Lynn Hendrickson Professor of Social Science at the University of Tennessee, where he has also served as Head of the Department of Geography. He is a past President of the American Association of Geographers (AAG), which represents over 12,000 scholars and professionals in almost 100 countries. Dr. Alderman received his MA and PhD in Geography from the University of Georgia and a BA in History from Georgia Southern University.
Dr. Alderman is (co)author of over 140 publications, including the award-winning book Civil Rights Memorials and the Geography of Memory (with Owen Dwyer). His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation on two occasions and he is committed to conducting critical public scholarship that engages, informs, and assists journalists, government officials, community activists and organizations, and the broader citizenry. He has been have interviewed or quoted over 200 times in print, radio and television media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, CityLab, Washington Post, USA Today, The Guardian, National Geographic, and National Public Radio.
A devoted teacher and advocate for students and early career faculty and professionals,
Dr. Alderman is a recent recipient of the Distinguished Mentor Award from the National
Council for Geographic Education and the Distinguished Career Award from the Ethnic
Geography Specialty Group of the AAG. His other recognitions include a AAG Media Achievement
Award, a Research Honors Award from the Southeastern Division of the AAG, and a Diversity
Leadership Award from the UT College of Arts & Sciences. He can be followed on Twitter
"Research as Reparative Storytelling:
Pressing the RESET Button on Southern Hospitality and Tourism"
Dr. Derek Alderman argues for enhancing storytelling as a core professional skill and responsibility among researchers. He will ask attendees to view storytelling as more than entertainment, to consider its value as a tool of education, science advocacy, public outreach, community-building, and scholar-activism. Drawing from his own discipline of geography, Alderman highlights strides already being made in storytelling as he discusses opportunities, strategies, and challenges for communicating beyond the reach, pace, and style of traditional academic discourse and dissemination.
Importantly, he calls for the stories written, told, performed, and visualized by scholars to be reparative in nature. They should challenge and redress the fallacies and inequalities that have come to characterize our “post-truth” world. Reparative storytelling, according to Alderman, is about geographers translating their science, theory, methods, and technologies into clear, compelling accounts that make an intervention in how public groups and decision-makers think about, care for, and act on today’s pressing issues. Concerned with more than telling evocative and consequential stories within press, policy, and professional circles, reparative storytelling is also an ethical commitment to create spaces for elevating and listening and responding to the voices and perspectives of marginalized groups within our society and professional communities.
As way of illustration, Dr. Alderman introduces the Tourism RESET Initiative, which he helped found in 2010 and now co-directs. Tourism RESET is built upon a belief in creating reparative, publicly engaged stories of research that challenge the social inequalities that have traditionally defined tourism and travel. Tourism is more than simply leisure, but plays a major role in the uneven and unfair distribution of cultural and economic rights within society—particularly in the southeastern United States, where who is welcome and who can move freely remains racially charged. Dr. Alderman highlights some of RESET’s past and ongoing projects and the contribution they are making in addressing tourism injustice and expanding what counts as southern hospitality and belonging.