Dr. Roberta Barker

Associate Professor, Dalhousie University

Bachelor of Arts, English and Classics, 1996

There's an everyday courage we all have to find.

In her final year of high school, Roberta Barker saw the reading list for King’s Foundation Year Program (FYP) and knew she had found the right program.

As a teenager, Barker had trained in classical music and opera. While the FYP lecture hall offered a place for her to explore her love of literature, the King’s Theatre Society was the ideal outlet for her theatrical impulses. “One of the things I’ve always loved about KTS is that it’s a place where you can fail as well as succeed. You figure things out by yourself, and if they don’t work out perfectly, that’s fine – your friends are there to support you, and you learn from your mistakes as well as your triumphs.”

After graduation, Barker worked on her MA in English at Dalhousie University, before receiving the prestigious Commonwealth Scholarship and finishing her PhD at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-Upon-Avon – the perfect place to study Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

But even with a world of experience under her belt, Halifax kept calling Barker to return. When a former professor at Dalhousie retired, one of Barker’s mentors pointed her towards the coming vacancy. In addition to teaching in the Dalhousie Theatre Department, she now lectures in the same Foundation Year Program that changed her life.

It hasn’t always been easy. Barker describes the first few months in front of her class as terrifying. “The path that we choose for ourselves is often much more complicated,” she says. “There’s an everyday courage we all have to find.”

Barker finds courage and is inspired by the daily exchange with her students – and the feeling is mutual. Halifax students – and The Coast – call her one of the best professors in the city.

Posted: Apr. 2016