Cal Poly Names 2019 Susan Currier Visiting Professor for Teaching Excellence

SAN LUIS OBISPO — For its 2019 Susan Currier Visiting Professorship for Teaching Excellence, Cal Poly has selected a Colgate University associate professor who teaches educational and women’s studies.

Anna Ríos-Rojas, who grew up, she said, “in the diasporic space between San Francisco and Costa Rica,” describes herself as an anthropologist of education. She will teach at Cal Poly over the fall and winter quarters.

The Susan Currier Visiting Professorship for Teaching Excellence brings to the university a faculty member with a distinguished record of teaching excellence in a field related to one of 10 departments in the College of Liberal Arts. The professorship, which started in 2009 as a legacy from former Associate Dean Susan Currier, entails teaching courses, giving a keynote Susan Currier Memorial Lecture, and planning or hosting additional activities that promote teaching excellence.

Ríos-Rojas, who teaches in the Educational Studies and Women’s Studies Departments at the Hamilton, New York-based Colgate University, looks forward to her time at Cal Poly. 

“I am humbled to have been granted this opportunity. It is never lost on me how fundamental our work as educators is to supporting students in seeing how they are and can be differently in the world,” she said. “Learning alongside new students, new colleagues and new communities is a daunting, humbling task that never ceases to surprise me for all that it teaches me and how it stretches me. 

“While here, I am committed to stretching in every way possible in order to work with as many different communities in our collective goal for co-creating liberating, anti-oppressive education and futures. It is a task that I take to heart, both in the classroom and beyond.”

Ríos-Rojas is teaching two courses this fall in the Women’s and Gender Studies Department; they are Feminist Methodologies and Women, Gender; and Sexuality in Global Perspective, which she has alternatively titled, “Decolonizing Development?” In the winter quarter starting Jan. 6, she will teach Queer Ethnic Studies (with a focus on migrations) and an advanced topics seminar tentatively focused on dreams, the radical imagination and love, and the implications those have for how people enact different kinds of education and decolonial futures.

Ríos-Rojas’ ethnographic research takes up questions related to the (bio)politics of belonging, citizenship and nationalisms encountered by transnational youth in Spain, Costa Rica and the U.S. A central aspect of her work looks at how immigrant youths’ experiences are entangled and shaped by race, gender and citizenship. Her research addresses the ways in which nationalist desires and anxieties inform and shape policies and practices “targeting” immigrant bodies. 

In the classroom she takes up these concerns while engaging her students with the hopefulness and transformative power of love that inform youth struggles for more expanded forms of belonging. 

The scholar and educator focuses on the ways a particular kind of love-ethic, culled from the experiences of those who are “heartbroken” by systems of oppression, might offer new ways of being and feeling towards other kinds of (and kinder) worlds.

Her work has appeared in Harvard Educational Review, Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Equity & Excellence in Education and Curriculum Inquiry.

- Women’s and Gender Studies Department:
- College of Liberal Arts:

About the Susan Currier Visiting Professorship
The Susan Currier Visiting Professorship for Teaching Excellence honors and sustains the commitment to education of the late Susan Currier, who served as associate dean of Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts and professor of English. The Currier professorship is housed in one of 10 departments selected by Currier. The professorship is made possible through contributions from Currier’s family and private donors. For more information, visit

Contact: Rachel Schultz

October 1, 2019

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