Spotlight on new faculty: A Q&A with Dr. Richard Nisa

Interview by Catherine Krawiec
Photo by Dan Landau

FDU welcomes Dr. Richard Nisa, the new geographer for Becton College’s Department of Social Sciences and History. His hire represents a new direction for and a recognition of the importance of geography in the education of our history, political science, and QUEST students, as well as those in other liberal arts areas. 

FDU: Tell us about your new position…
RN: I’m an Assistant Professor of Geography in the Department of Social Science and History at Becton College at the College at Florham. I’m currently the only geographer at FDU, so my position adds a specific focus on space and place to the department’s already robust specializations. I’ll be teaching an introductory course called “Geography and World Issues” each semester. 
FDU: What sparked your passion in this field?
RN: I had been working as an architect for a number of years, but as time went on my interest in understanding the political organization of spaces began to trump my interest in designing them. I had read some geographers as an undergrad and the more I read, the more I thought that geography offered a broad and useful way to think about the world and the ways people make, take, use, and fight for access to space. 

FDU: What is something that you would like to contribute to FDU?
RN: Despite the impacts that American culture and politics have on different places, most people I encounter think of geography (when they don’t confuse it with geology) as simply the study of place names and locations on a map. At a minimum, I hope to change that by enabling students to bring a more detailed geographic framework to their discussions of issues like economic globalization, migration, conflict, and environmental governance. 

What is something that you hope your students will take away from your class?
RN: I hope that when students leave my classes they are better equipped to think about the connections between their daily lives and the uneven political, economic, and environmental issues that underpin them. I want them to be able to ask difficult questions about the places, people, and struggles that shape our global landscape. I also hope they know the difference between geography and geology!
FDU: What is something that most people wouldn’t know about you?
RN: When I was an undergraduate at Syracuse, I was a goalie for my university’s ice hockey team.

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