Meet your professor: Ezra Zeitler


Elizabeth Jackson: How’d did you get interested in geography?


Ezra Zeitler: I was on a family field trip when I was eleven out to Montana (and) Wyoming and to see the changes in the physical and cultural landscape
really got me interested in learning more about places that were different from places where I was living
Wisconsin in general. I just wanted to see different places.


EJ: At what point did you realize you wanted to become a professor? Why?


EZ: I had an epiphany moment after I graduated from college. I was driving out to North Dakota to intern for Ducks Unlimited. I took two days to drive out there from Wisconsin. To go out and see places I’d never seen before and developing questions about those places in my mind inspired me to pursue becoming a professor. And that’s when I decided to go to grad school with that in mind.


EJ: What is your favorite class to teach and why?


EZ: That’s a difficult question, because I honestly love teaching all of the classes that I teach, and I teach a pretty wide variety of classes. I love the 100 level human geography because there are all kinds of topics in there from demography to politics to culture to urban geography. That’s fun to talk about and it’s kind of a pew pew pew, just really fast snippets. I try to make it as interesting as possible in two to three class periods just to introduce students to that way of applying geography to different themes and areas.


I also like the upper level. The geography 368, those are our field seminar classes. Those are offered every semester and we (the faculty) rotate through. I do enjoy teaching that too, because I pick a place like the Mississippi Delta and I talk about race and landscape and we go down there for 10 days and we get outside of the classroom, and that’s great.


The Central European Travel Seminar has been very fun to teach too, because it’s interdisciplinary. I’m with two other faculty
members from outside of my department and we spend hours planning in the fall for the spring and summer. That kind of interaction I find very


EJ: What has been the strangest or most memorable thing a student has done in class? What was your reaction to it?


EZ: I have an informal policy that if your cellphone goes off and it’s loud, I don’t get mad, they have to dance in front of the class. I think it was last spring there was a student whose phone went off twice during the semester. He was embarrassed, like “I don’t mind doing it.” So he did the macarena once, and I think the other time he just shook his booty a little bit.


EJ: What are your hobbies?


EZ: Riding bike. I like running. If there’s a band that I like playing in town or in the cities I’ll go see them. Other than that I don’t have a lot of spare time. Gardening. I have a garden.