Cultural Geographer, University of Kentucky
Carolyn Finney, PhD is a writer, performer, and cultural geographer. As a Professor of Geography at the University of Kentucky, she is deeply interested in issues related to identity, difference, creativity, and resilience. In particular, she explores how issues of difference impact participation in decision-making processes designed to address environmental issues. More broadly, she likes to trouble theoretical and methodological edges that shape knowledge production and determine whose knowledge counts. Carolyn is grounded in both artistic and intellectual ways of knowing - she pursed an acting career for eleven years, but a backpacking trip around the world and living in Nepal changed the course of her life. Motivated by these experiences, she returned to school after a 15-year absence to complete a BA, MA, and PhD. The aim of her work is to develop greater cultural competency within environmental organizations and institutions, challenge media outlets on their representation of difference, and increase awareness of how privilege shapes who gets to speak to environmental issues and determine policy and action. Carolyn has appeared on the Tavis Smiley show, MSNBC, and NPR and has been interviewed for numerous newspapers and magazines. Most recently, an interview with Carolyn in the Boston Globe was cited as one of the top ten ideas/stories of 2014. Along with public speaking, writing, and consulting, she serves on the US National Parks Advisory Board that is working to assist the National Park Service in engaging in relations of reciprocity with diverse communities. Her first book, Black Faces, White Spaces: Reimagining the Relationship of African Americans to the Great Outdoors, was released in 2014 (UNC Press).