UWEC Professor receives award for LGBT Advocacy

Dr. Josh Brown receives 2021 P.B. Poorman Award

Lisa Snyder

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Recipients of the award are LGBTQ+ people or their allies whose contributions have advanced the work of equity, diversion, and inclusion.

Dr. Josh Brown, Professor of German and Linguistics, was the UW-Eau Claire recipient of the 2021 Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBT People. 

The award is presented annually to one individual in each of the UW system campuses who have worked to create and advocate for a safer and more inclusive climate for LGBT students. 

Thus far there have been 60 recipients of the award since its establishment in 2008 in memory of Paula B. Poorman. According to the University of Wisconsin System, Poorman was a faculty member at UW-Whitewater who “was dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ people.” 

Brown received the 2021 award for his LGBT advocacy efforts on campus over the years. He has taught and reconstructed the introduction to LGBT studies course on campus, led faculty-student collaborations, and funded a scholarship for LGBT students. 

Brown said his faculty-student collaborative research over the years has focused on LGBT issues, as well as social justice issues. He has done research with students on LGBT Amish individuals, as well as a project with two students focusing on how to incorporate EDI into the German curriculum. 

“That is one of the things I like about Eau Claire,” Brown said. “We encourage students to get involved with undergraduate research projects with faculty members.” 

Brown said he wants to continue with his collaborative research and looking at ways to make the language curriculum more socially engaged, since there are always new students interested in faculty-student collaborative work. 

Molly Larson, a student who has Brown as a professor for multiple German classes, said that Brown helped her with her geography capstone project. She said Brown is a great professor who is kind, helpful and encouraging. 

“He definitely deserves the award.” Larson said. “He has advertised the LGBTQ+ grant for the Fulbright program, amongst many other things.” 

Larson said she learns a lot from his classes and that he is knowledgeable in many areas including the Romantic Era and German folklore, which related to her capstone project. 

Brown is an affiliate faculty member in the Women’s and Gender Sexuality Studies department, and a former member of the WGSS liaison committee. He also served on the university’s LGBTQ advisory board, collaborating with the Gender and Sexuality Resource center through multiple programs. 

One of these programs includes “Q’nnect,” a mentoring program which helps connect faculty and first year LGBTQ students. 

Brown was born in Pennsylvania, where his family has resided since the late 17th century. He has been a Wisconsin resident since 2011 and has been teaching at UW-Eau Claire for 11 years. 

Brown got his undergraduate degree in German with a minor in Russian and Latin at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. He then got his Ph.D in German with a concentration in Applied Linguistics from Pennsylvania State University. 

He chose to teach at UW-Eau Claire because it reminded him of where he got his undergraduate degree and thought it would be a good fit. Brown said he likes the idea of regional public schools and that UW-Eau Claire had lots of first-generation college students. 

His teaching interests include linguistic anthropology, German civilization, Amish in North America and second language acquisition. He has done extensive scholarly research in which his main area of interest is addressing questions about language as it relates to social and cultural factors. 

Brown said he identifies as a Quaker, who are associated with being pacifists, social justice activists and avoid hierarchical structures. He also describes himself as a sociolinguist and a linguistic anthropologist, interested primarily in heritage languages and the interaction of language and identity.

Ever since graduate school, Brown has found himself interested in weaving, knitting, embroidery and wool spinning. Brown says he likes learning new techniques that are rooted in cultural tradition and that folk art inspires him. 

Brown said he wants to continue his LGBT advocacy on campus as there is always new stuff coming along. He can’t say exactly where his work will go because a lot of the time it is determined by the students that want to work with him. 

Snyder can be reached at [email protected]