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Athabasca University

Barbara Roberts Memorial Award

Biography of Barbara Roberts

Barbara Ann Roberts (1942-1998)

Barbara Roberts came to Athabasca University in September 1988 as an Associate Professor and Coordinator of Women's Studies and was promoted to full professor in 1995. She arrived at Athabasca with a wealth of experience in the Canadian and international women's movements and in peace activism. Born in Eureka, California to an American air force surgeon and a Canadian mother, Barbara left the US to become a Canadian citizen in opposition to the Vietnam War. Her academic career began at Simon Fraser University, where she earned both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in Women's Studies. She completed her PhD in Canadian History at the University of Ottawa in 1980. Her academic career took her to a variety of Canadian educational institutions including the University of Winnipeg, the University of Manitoba, the University of Saskatchewan, and the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University. She retired from her duties at Athabasca shortly before her death in June 1998.

Barbara was coordinator of the Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) Forum Peace Centre at the United Nations “Decade of Women” conference in Nairobi in July 1985. She was also a prolific writer who published many articles, some of which Athabasca students will read in their Women's Studies courses, Barbara seemed most proud of her book, A Reconstructed World: A Feminist Biography, published in 1996, which documented the life of Gertrude Richardson, a Manitoba homesteader, feminist, and pacifist.

Barbara's community was wide and deep, embracing friends and colleagues from many backgrounds and numerous countries. She was a mother to two sons, a wife, a grandmother, and a member of the Quaker community in Edmonton. For those of us who were fortunate enough to know Barbara as a mentor and friend, she is best remembered for her generous heart, her playful irreverence, her incessant knitting, and her beautiful laugh.

Updated February 25 2015 by Student & Academic Services

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