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Dr. Josh Brown receives UW System’s Poorman Award for LGBTQ+ advocacy

| Gary Johnson

Photo caption: Dr. Josh Brown co-funds a first-year, first-generation LGBTQ+ scholarship at UW-Eau Claire. (Photo by Shane Opatz)

Dr. Josh Brown, a professor of German and linguistics, and an affiliate faculty member in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, is the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s recipient of the 2021 Dr. P.B. Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ+ People.

The annual award is presented to one individual on each UW System campus who has helped to create a safer and more inclusive climate for LGBTQ+ people. The award celebrates the memory and legacy of Paula B. Poorman, a faculty member at UW-Whitewater who was dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ people.

“As a closeted, first-generation undergraduate student, I was surrounded often by fear and shame at college,” says Brown, who is in his 11th year at UW-Eau Claire. “So, my goal as an educator is to celebrate who my students are and make them all feel welcome in my classroom. Receiving this award makes me reflect on the work that I’ve done toward that goal, and serves as a reminder of the work that I want to keep doing.”

The 11 recipients were honored on Nov. 4 during a ceremony hosted by Dr. Warren Anderson, UW System senior equity, diversity and inclusion officer. Sixty LGBTQ+ people and their allies have received the award since it was established in 2008.

"This year’s award recipients are doing important and significant work to enhance equity and opportunity for our students, faculty and staff," Anderson said. "The UW System is honored to recognize their dedication to making our campuses and broader communities more welcoming places to live, work and learn.”

Brown co-funds a first-year, first-generation LGBTQ+ scholarship at UW-Eau Claire.

He formerly served as a member of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Liaison Committee, co-organizing an annual recognition program for UW-Eau Claire and the Eau Claire community, and working to share the mission of the program outside the campus community. He has served on the university’s LGBTQ Advisory Board and cooperated with the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center through several of its programs, including Q’Nect which brought together faculty, staff and first-year LGBTQ+ students.

Trained as a linguistic anthropologist, Brown’s interests are found in the interaction of language and culture. He has published on music and sexuality, as well as gender in Amish society. As part of faculty-student collaborative projects, Brown has analyzed narratives and writings from LGBTQ+ ex-Amish individuals — voices often overlooked in mainstream Amish and religious studies.

Additional faculty-student collaborative work on culturally relevant pedagogy examined diverse identities in second language classrooms. The resulting publication — with curricular ideas for enhancing EDI initiatives in the second language classroom — will appear later in November.

Brown’s academic work can be found on his website.