Eliot Circular

Two Professors Earn Tenure

By Randall S. Barton

The trustees have granted tenure to two professors who teach in theatre, political science, and environmental studies.


Prof. Chris Koski [political science and environmental studies 2011–]

Prof. Chris Koski [political science and environmental studies 2011–] came to Reed from James Madison University in Virginia where he was an assistant professor in 2007–11.

“Chris is an exciting teacher with a long and impressively varied list of scholarly achievements,” says Prof. Nigel Nicholson, dean of the faculty. “With particular interests in environmental politics, local policy making, and homeland security, his work binds him into the numerous current hot-button issues, and his students love how he immerses them in ongoing policy debates.”

In addition to his environmental studies classes, Prof. Koski taught a popular new class on food politics spring semester. But his intro class in public policy seems to spur the biggest evolution in student understanding.

“Each person enters the class with an idea of something they find very important about the world,” he says. “They’re interested in education policy or environmental policy, what have you. But they emerge with an understanding of the substantive areas that are important and also the theories of how we get from an idea to a policy.”

Koski’s research is multifaceted, but his current focus is on the role local governments have to play in addressing climate change—and specifically how to integrate policy with science.

“How are we going to adapt to climate change?” he asks. “It’s clear we’re not moving fast enough to stop it from happening, so we’ve got to figure out what the world is going to look like.”

The environmental studies program has become a potent part of Reed’s academic arsenal, he says, because the faculty has been methodical about building the program.

“As a joint appointment in political science and environmental studies, Chris brings distinction to both programs,” Dean Nicholson says.

Koski earned a BA in political science from Carroll College in Montana, and an MA and PhD at the University of Washington.



Prof. Kate Bredeson [theatre 2009–]
Photo by Leah Nash.

Prof. Kate Bredeson [theatre 2009–] was also granted tenure.

“Kate is a passionate advocate of theatre at Reed and beyond, and her students respond to her teaching, directing and mentoring with equal enthusiasm and commitment,” says Dean Nicholson. “As a scholar of French avant-garde theatre, she is especially drawn to the events and ramifications of the student revolution of 1968, and shares her love of French theatre with her students, in class, in her writing and on the stage.”

A theatre historian, director, and dramaturg, Prof. Bredeson says that Reed’s theatre department allows her to be both scholar and artist—to teach theory and history, but also to use that information “to make things with our bodies in space.”

Bredeson researches and writes about experimental French theatre in the ’60s; particularly how theatre innovations in this period reflect politics, culture, and society. She teaches classes in theatre history, playwriting, dramaturgy, translation, and adaptation. But Gender and Theatre is by far her most popular class.

“That class has become a great way to foster interdisciplinary conversation,” Bredeson says. “It’s a rigorous investigation of gender performance in historical context, allowing students to explore gender theory through the lens of performance. We also have a week where we investigate drag and do a drag performance.”

In 2014 she directed a production of the Thornton Wilder play Our Town, casting a female student in a male role and two men as female characters.

“I try to find ways for whatever I’m doing on my stages to be in dialogue with larger investigations on campus,” Bredeson says. “I directed Glass Menagerie when Prof. Pancho Savery [English 1995–] was teaching a class on Tennessee Williams. Now I’m directing The Bald Soprano by Ionesco, which is read in French classes here.”

As a professional dramaturg, Bredeson has worked with theatres such as the Guthrie, Yale Repertory Theatre, the Portland Playhouse, and Hand2Mouth. She currently chairs the theatre department, and holds an MFA and a doctorate in dramaturgy and dramatic criticism from the Yale School of Drama.

She previously taught at Dalhousie University, Yale University, and was a visiting associate professor of playwriting in the Hollins University MFA Playwriting program.