Roger Adkins


Director of International and Cultural Education in International and Cultural Education

Dr. Roger Adkins is a scholar-administrator with a complex profile that includes extensive administrative work and expertise in intercultural education, ongoing interdisciplinary research and scholarship, and teaching in both domestic and international settings. He is a passionate interculturalist who strives to make intercultural learning accessible for every student, both in on-campus and off-campus settings. He is also a scholar of queer studies, folklore, and literature, with a recent emphasis on the queer potential of narratives of the fantastic.

Roger grew up in Ohio and spent his childhood traveling with his family throughout the eastern U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Although his family had limited means, they saved and set aside funds for modest family vacations that inspired in Roger a love of travel, exploration, the outdoors (it was often camping), and thinking about the differences between peoples, places, and cultures. As an undergraduate, he studied literature and creative writing at Hiram College (Ohio), where his interests evolved to include gender studies, folklore, and diversity-related activism. He also decided to pursue graduate studies and to become a scholar whose work would question fundamental assumptions about difference and identity. During his graduate studies, he studied abroad in Iceland and became an avid proponent of intercultural education.

Prior to joining the Gustavus community as director of the Center for International and Cultural Education, Roger worked in similar centers at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and at the University of Oregon (UO). In fact, he started working in the field of intercultural education as a graduate student at the UO – much to his own surprise. He had intended to take a more 'traditional' route through graduate school and into work as a professor of literature, folklore, or gender studies, but he found that his work in intercultural education allowed him to combine his interests in cross-cultural learning and the scholarship of identity.

Over the years, his work has included everything from cultivating new international partnerships to internationalizing the on-campus curriculum and developing innovative and unusual faculty-led study abroad programs. His particular expertise in faculty-led programming has led him to serve as a consultant for other institutions seeking to professionalize and streamline their own programming. He is currently working on a number of research, writing, and programmatic projects.

He has also been increasingly involved in discussions and movements for alternative approaches in intercultural education, including infusing intercultural learning into the on-campus curriculum, developing more and better domestic off-campus intercultural experiences, using new media and online platforms to foster intercultural interactions and dialogue without requiring physical travel, developing joint and dual degree programs, and developing new synergies between and among existing intercultural programs and experiences.

Roger's teaching follows closely the contours of his administrative and scholarly interests. He has recently taught courses in comparative literature, gender studies, and folklore, including:

  • Epic Masculinities: a course on the epic narrative (in many genres and cultural contexts) and its many strange alliances with cultural constructions of masculinity – often a nationalistic, heteropatriarchal, racialized, and militant masculinity
  • Women Behaving Badly: a course on 'evil' women characters (villains, murderesses, dark goddesses, wicked stepmothers, femmes fatales, etc.) in diverse texts, folktales, and popular culture, with careful analysis of what constitutes the 'feminine excess'
  • Talking to Monsters: a course on transformations in the notion of 'the moster' in postmodern texts and contexts, with extensive theoretical investigation of 'the Other'
  • Fantasy on the Fringe (study abroad course/program): a course based in London and Edinburgh that examines how fantasy literature, the fantastic modality, and folklore provide unique venues for reimagining a more socially just reality

Recent and forthcoming professional activities:

  • "Immediacy, Engagement, and Immersion: Critical Pedagogy and the Study Abroad Mission," co-presented with Cari Vanderkar Moore (Cal Poly), Josh Machamer (Cal Poly), and Leslie Steeves (UO), CIEE Berlin Conference, "The Reinvention of Study Abroad," November 2015
  • "Floating Cities in the Sky: Applying Queer Theory in the Field of Intercultural Education," Somewhere Over the Rainbow webinar series, April 2016
  • Participant in the 2016 CAPA symposium on Civil Rights and Inequalities, May 2016
  • Participant in the 2016 NAFSA Moffat Seminar, "The Challenges of Student Identity and Peacebuilding," May 2016
  • Opening dialogue speaker at the 2016 IFSA-Butler conference, "What Is 'Success' in Education Abroad?" (July 2016)
  • 2016-17 AIEA Presidential Fellowship
  • "The New SIO and Institutional Change: During and After the 'Honeymoon Period'," co-facilitated conference roundtable session, AIEA Washington DC conference "Transcending Boundaries," February 2017
  • Co-facilitator for the Institute at the Institute 2017, "Inclusive Excellence in Education Abroad," Indianapolis, July 2017
  • Co-facilitator of a Think Tank session for International Education Leaders on "Decolonizing Study Abroad," Washington DC, October 2017
  • "Bed, Bath and Beyond, or: What Is to Be Done About Gender-Binary Accommodations in Study Abroad Programs?" NAFSA Rainbow SIG Newsletter, Fall 2017 issue.
  • Member, Editorial Committee for the Association of International Education Administrators, 2018-2020.
  • [Forthcoming] "We're So Vain, We Probably Think This Program's About Us: Decolonizing Study Abroad," co-presented with Elizabeth Brewer (Beloit) and Julie Ficarra (SUNY Cortland), Forum on Education Abroad Conference, "Building on Strong Foundations: Best Practices for an Evolving Field," Boston, (March 2018)
  • [Forthcoming] "Decolonizing Education Abroad," co-authored with Bryan Messerly, in Critical Perspectives on Education Abroad: Leveraging the Educational Continuum, ed. Elizabeth Brewer and Anthony C. Ogden, Stylus, (September/October 2018).

Dr. Adkins also serves the CISabroad advisory board. He has prior service on other boards, including the Northwest Council on Study Abroad (NCSA, now defunct), the HECUA board, the ISLE board, and the Upper Midwest Association for International Education (UMAIE) board.

Roger identifies as queer, lives with a disability (not visible), and comes from a working-class background. He was a first-generation college student in his family. He is passionate about inclusiveness and is very happy to serve as a mentor or advocate for students from diverse backgrounds. His pronouns are he/him/his (though he identifies as gender variant and is also fine with she/her/hers or they/them/theirs and uses the latter set in social media).

Roger joined the Gustavus community in summer 2015 and has been and remains excited to build on and expand the already strong base of intercultural programming at the college.


B.A., English and Creative Writing, Hiram College; M.A., Gender Studies, and M.A., Ph.D., Comparative Literature, University of Oregon

Course Taught

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
IDS-219Fantasy & Folklore UK12017/JN