Prof. Bill Moseley

St. Paul, Minn. – DeWitt Wallace Professor of Geography Bill Moseley is the recipient of the 2022 Thomas Jefferson Award. The award was established in 1961 by the Robert Earll McConnell Foundation to honor members of the Macalester community who exemplify the principles and ideals of the third President of the United States. Dr. Moseley was selected by a committee of past Jefferson Award winners.

“Bill is a caring and creative teacher and a prodigious international scholar,” said Dr. Tom Halverson, Dean of the Faculty and recipient of the 2020 Jefferson Award. “One thing that really stands out about Bill is the way that he integrates teaching and scholarship. He brings real examples from his field research in Africa South of the Sahara into the classroom, and he brings students into partnership with him in his research.”

Dr. Moseley is a highly published scholar working in the areas of environment and development policy, livelihood security, and political ecology. Most of his research has taken place in Africa with extended work in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi, and Lesotho. Professor Moseley’s published work includes nine books (either co-authored or co-edited), 58 refereed journal articles in English and French, 40 book chapters and encyclopedia articles, and scores of book reviews. His research has been supported by major grants from the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright Program, and the American Geographical Society. Most recently, Professor Moseley received a grant to serve as visiting scientist at the Montpellier Advanced Knowledge Institute on Transitions at the University of Montpellier, France.

“I’m most proud of trying to connect my academic work and scholarship to civil society and the policymaking community, because I think good policy and good programs are based on thoughtful research,” said Dr. Moseley.  

Professor Moseley joined the Macalester faculty in 2002 as an assistant professor of geography. In 2020, he was named DeWitt Wallace Professor of Geography. During his tenure, he has served as department chair, the director of the African Studies Program and, for the past five years, as director of Mac’s program in Food, Agriculture, and Society. He has also served several college-wide committees including the Strategic Planning and Analysis Committee as a member and a chair; the Faculty Advisory Council; director and dean of the Alumni College on Food and Agriculture; co-chair of the organizing committee for 2012 International Roundtable; and as part of the Faculty Personnel Committee, along with dozens of search committees and faculty development projects.

Dr. Moseley has also shown incredible dedication to his students. The courses he teaches include Introductory Human Geography; People, Agriculture, and the Environment; the Geography of Africa; Development and Underdevelopment; and a senior seminar on environment and development studies. He has been a strong advocate of student research at Macalester, serving as an advisor for 23 honors projects and as a committee member for an additional 25 projects. Whenever possible, Dr. Moseley has also included students as research assistants in his research projects in Africa. Macalester recognized his teaching with the 2014 Trustee’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship, Teaching, and Service, and he was named the 2010-2011 Educator of the Year. 

“I’ve been blessed to have had exceptionally strong students,” said Professor Moseley, adding that they take different paths. Sometimes students join him on a deep dive, conducting research and writing an honors thesis or publishing a paper together. Others may have struggled in their first class with him, but they come back and keep pushing. No matter the path, however, Mac students have been a source of inspiration.

“I can’t count the number of times where something was said in the classroom that got me thinking and led to a new research project or a new approach to teaching a certain topic,” he said. 

Off campus, Professor Moseley’s leadership and scholarship has garnered international recognition. In 2019, he received the honor of being named to the United Nations High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition. Dr. Moseley served a term as a panel member of the National Academy of Sciences and is actively engaged in the African Studies Association and the president-elect of the Mande Studies Association. In addition, he has served as an external committee member for 19 PhD candidates at universities in Canada, France, and South Africa, and has  served as an editor or editorial board member for eight academic journals. The rigor and significance of his work has most recently been recognized by Phi Beta Kappa, which named him a 2022-2023 Phi Beta Kappa Speaker.

Previous recipients of the Jefferson Award include Professors Duchess Harris (2021), Galo González (2018) and James Laine (2017), former Registrar Jayne Niemi (2019), and Laurie Hamre (2015), former Vice President of Student Affairs. Prof. Moseley said it was humbling to be added to such an esteemed list of awardees. 

I am just totally floored that I received this award,” said Professor Moseley. “I never expected it in a million years, mostly because my colleagues are of such high quality. So it’s an honor to be in the company of these people, and the recognition means the world.” 



April 12 2022

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