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Distinguished UGA Alumnus, Dr. Derek Alderman named to US Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names

Headshot of Dr. Alderman

Tuesday, August 9th, a day when much of the world was observing The International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Holland formally announced the members of the newly conceived Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names. Among those selected for the esteemed committee included one of UGA Geography’s very own, alumnus Derek Alderman. Since receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia Department of Geography in 1998, Dr. Alderman has become a prolific contributor towards the burgeoning research and literature surrounding “critical place name studies,” and memory studies. The focal point of Dr. Alderman’s work has been the critical analysis of place names and their relationship to the identity and heritage of marginalized groups, particularly African Americans in the American South.

Dr. Alderman’s work has earned him several awards, including a Distinguished Professor of Teaching Award from East Carolina University as well as a UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award. Currently, Dr. Alderman is the Head of the Department of Geography and Professor at the University of Tennessee.

Dr. Alderman’s research and teaching background makes him an unsurprising pick for an advisory committee at one of the highest levels of federal government. Dr. Alderman will work in conjunction with 16 other members of the advisory committee comprised of Tribal leaders, Tribe members, and other academics whose research focuses on geography, anthropology, and civil rights. According to the US Department of the Interior press release, the stated goal of the committee “will includedeveloping a process to solicit and assist with proposals to the Secretary to identify and change derogatory names and will engage with Tribes, the Native Hawaiian Community, state and local governments, and the public."

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