Dr. Eric Spears is the Mildred Miller Fort Foundation Eminent Scholar and Chair of International Education at Columbus State University (CSU), Georgia (USA). He serves as the executive director of the Center for Global Engagement and is Professor of Geography in the university's Department of History, Geography, and Philosophy. He coordinates and teaches in Columbus State's International Studies Certificate Program. Dr. Spears is also the Head of the Spencer House in Oxford, England, which is the CSU study abroad program center that partners with The University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University in the UK.
In 2023, Dr. Spears was elected the chair of the System Council of International Education at the University System of Georgia (USG), which serves 26 public university and colleges campuses through shared governance and the system's central international education office. Dr. Spears also serves on the USG's general education committee for geology and geography.
He studied in the United States, England, and Brazil throughout his graduate programs. While in Brazil, Dr. Spears conducted 15 months of field data collection in Brazilian favelas and studied democratic participation and the political economy of urban development. Dr. Spears was a recipient of a Fulbright grant to South Korea and an East-West Center in Hawai'i for an Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP) grant to develop a course on China and an Asian studies minor. He was also part of a research program with João dos Reis Silva Jr at the Federal University of São Carlos (Brazil), which examined the impact of neoliberalism and the production of scientific knowledge in the Brazilian public university system.
Service is central to Dr. Spears' professional mission. He works with the Georgia Student Rotary Program (GRSP), which brings international students to Georgia for a year of international exchange. He is the vice-president of the Asian Studies Development Program Alumni Organization at the East-West Center in Hawai'i. Dr. Spears is a CSU faculty representative to the Georgia Climate Project, which is a non-profit that integrates research and pragmatic solutions to climate change. He also served on the Lam East-West Institute Executive Board at Hong Kong Baptist University from 2006-2010. Professor Spears is an active member on the CEPA Foundation academic advisory board in Strasbourg, France. He is on the West Virginia University Geology and Geography Visiting Committee (alumni advisory group). Furthermore, his professional service is anchored locally in Columbus, GA, where he serves on the mayor's Commission on International Relations and Cultural Liaison Encounters (CIRCLE) (sister-city relationships).
Dr. Spears is a development geographer. His research is concentrated on Latin American/Brazilian political economy, East Asian political economy, and coastal political ecology in Georgia. He is presently researching China's FDI in Brazil (and Latin America) and its influence on geopolitical relationships. In addition, he is co-authoring a book called Cartographic America (CSU Press) with David Owings on the historic Spencer Map Collection at Columbus State University, which is a $1.2 million set of antique maps from the 1500s through the late 1800s that focus on North America's early explorers, colonial conquests, and other noteworthy aspects of the Southeast's history. This is Dr. Spears' first entrée with historical geography. Proceeds from the book will support CSU's Foundation, Archives, and the Spencer House.
Ph.D. in Geography (West Virginia University, 2004)
M.A. in International Political Economy (University of Warwick, 1995)
M.A. courses taken in Geography and Political Science at Marshall University (Spring 1993)
B.A. in Geography (Marshall University, 1992)
Minors in Spanish and Marketing