As an Assistant Professor in Ethnic Studies and Women and Gender Studies, Dr. Jenne Schmidt’s (they/them) research is situated at the intersections of critical disability theory, queer politics, and environmental studies. Specifically, their research interrogates the ways that environmental futures are positioned as incommensurable with crip, trans, and queer existence and futurity. They refuse the notion that to secure a sustainable ecological future for humans, we must eradicate (via a logic of environmental management that draws on eugenics-adjacent frameworks) corporeal differences including disability and queerness.

Some of Dr. Schmidt’s current projects include juxtaposing histories of freak shows in the US alongside conservation and environmental constructions of “freaknature,” (more-than-human beings with corporeal differences) as evidence of environmental destruction and impending doom. They are also working on a project that critiques the ways that environmental education has been premised upon nondisabled bodies at best, and reinforced disability as the cause of environmental destruction at worst. In this project, they examine ways that education and recreation organizations can create more inclusive and accessible experiences for all bodies, including disabled, fat, queer, trans*, and BIPOC bodies. They have enjoyed working with critical and inquisitive students in considering how we might move away from the current framing of disability as destructive or evidence of contamination, and towards “desiring disability” within environmentally sustainable futures.

Dr. Schmidt teaches some of the core required courses for majors and minors, including ETST 100 Intro to Ethnic Studies, WGS 200: Intro to Women and Gender Studies, and ETST 305 Race, Class, Gender in the U.S. This year, they have also developed and taught a few new courses on disability, including ETST 270: Intro to Critical Disability Studies and ETST 420: Disability, Race, Gender in the Environment. They are excited to continue to build up the queer, trans*, and disability studies offerings in the department in the future.