I have always been internationally-minded, plagued with wanderlust, adventurous- whatever you want to call it. But coming to University of Oregon and finding the Carnegie Global Oregon (CGO), one of the best cohorts of influential and inspiring students at UO, showed me that I was also connected. Shaul Cohen, CGO leader and Geography Professor, and so many famous and influential guest speakers showed me that my actions, my thoughts, my choices and my life path, mattered. Not just is a feel-good sort of way, but in a way that opened my eyes to my own citizenship in an increasingly global community.
Geography examines this connectivity. It is one of the most interdisciplinary, complicated, wholistic fields that exists. Once I realized that Geography was not “Geology” and that it certainly was not just about maps, quite literally, the entire world seemed to open up to me.
By studying Geography, I knew I wouldn’t have to decide on one topic of study for 4 years. I could be inspired by and passionate about EVERY class I took and I could embrace technology, culture, history, and politics simultaneously. It turned out that Geography also challenged me the most of any discipline; I’ve never had to so carefully examine so many different historical, spacial, and cultural factors of a single issue before.
Once you begin looking at the world that way, you wonder how you ever formed opinions without examining all those factors…
One of my most memorable Geography classed at the University of Oregon was “Geography of Inequality” with Professor Cohen. I was only a freshman and the youngest of twelve UO students in the class. Each week, we drove to the Maximum Security Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, Oregon to learn alongside twelve OSP inmates. I’m convinced, this “Inside-Out” class is one of the flagship classes we offer at the University of Oregon. I can say wholeheartedly this class changed my life. I walked out of OSP on that last day understanding our Criminal Justice System and the human spirit in a way that would have otherwise taken me a lifetime. I declared Geography as a major a month later.
Since then, I’ve backpacked Western and Central Europe, taught English in Slovakia and here at home in Oregon, studied in South Africa (Mozambique and Swaziland too), conducted my own research on Islamic Feminism, and interned with the Digital Team at National Geographic for 15 weeks in the summer of 2016.
Personal relationships have even further illuminated my understanding of identity and interconnectivity. Tutoring a Saudi Arabian mother over dinners of kabsah has given me a counter-narrative to Western media’s portrayal of Islamic women. Hessah taught me that identity is not defined by other’s misunderstanding. Living with a Zulu-speaking Mama and family in a township outside of Durban, South Africa has given me one of the most meaningful relationships of my life. Mourning with Mama the death of her son to police brutality has taught me that identity can sometimes be used against us.
Living for 4 months in a township just outside of Durban, identity was strikingly at the forefront of my everyday experience. I learned from South African political leaders who encouraged me in my own research surrounding feminine identity and Islamic feminism in South Africa. Interviewing such influential women in the Muslim community here provided me with new insight into the power of place, culture and identity.
It still amazes me that all of these experiences led me to interning with National Geographic. Working on the Digital Team at National Geographic gave me the opportunity to live out my passions, to surround myself with talent, to obtain geographic mentoring, and to live my childhood dream. In short, I was be honored and ecstatic to receive that position. It still feels surreal that I was able to live out one of my biggest dreams at only 21 years old.
I will never forget my time at National Geographic, the people I was able to meet and the inspiration that I obtained that profoundly changed my research and personal aspirations. If my time at University of Oregon has taught me anything, it’s that dreams are not just for extraordinary people, we all have within us an ability to contribute to the global community. As Ducks, we are lucky to be in of one of the most inspiring and influential communities I’ve ever experienced- a model we will certainly carry with us into the real world and beyond.
The field of Geography is for the student who is okay with the complicated answers. If you are willing to listen, to understand opinions different than your own, to take into account language barriers and historical context than this is the major for you. Being a geographer has made me a global citizen, not a savior, just an observer and an ally who feels comfortable with people from all walks of life. Because of Geography, I feel at home all around the world.
Read some more of her reflections here!
Dr. Leigh Johnson, who joined the UO Geography faculty in Spring 2016, has had her research on risk transfer in markets in the context of climate change featured in a video released by the University of Zurich, where she completed her post-doc. It’s one of those cool whiteboard drawing videos! It looks at a product called index insurance, which was offered to farmers in rural Kenya to help them cope with losses of crops and other disasters potentially associated with climate change. This development project failed, however, and Dr Johnson’s research examines how various actors in the process acted, their motivations, and the future potential of this type of insurance. Watch it! It’s a fantastic five minute overview of an important issue!
And if you want to read an article in German on the research, click here.
On Tuesday, November 15th, about sixteen undergraduate and graduate geography students crammed into the front of the InfoGraphics Lab to learn about humanitarian mapping. The event began with some socializing over pizza, and then people settled down to their stations on their laptops, crammed around tables with the pizza. Dr. Chris Bone, who organized the session, gave an entertaining overview of YouthMappers.org, a national organization that provides special projects for students groups to work on. He then guided everyone through the basics of how to essentially digitize structures and how they would be used for projects.
The project assigned to us via YouthMappers was for a malaria spraying project in rural Kenya. Students were tasked with focusing on drawing points, lines, and shapes to designate roads, rivers, houses, and more, over aerial imagery brought into YouthMappers.org via Open Street Map. The data will eventually be used to guide spraying efforts by NGOs in Kenya.
Students were excited to begin the project and they learned quickly how to digitize and interpret basic information on the ground. By the time we wrapped up, however, students were beginning to realize that digitizing can be pretty mundane. However, given that it’s week 8, that there has been a lot of anxiety around national events, and that this is all for a good cause, students were eager to say that while it seems boring, the zen of settling in to the digitizing process was actually relaxing and fulfilling.
The only real anxiety of the evening was music choice. At last someone mentioned Kenny G. Once we turned that on, we were quickly able to decide on an alternative (The Black Keys).
So! As a result, we intend to offer this activity at least once a term, maybe week 7 or 8, to give students a chance to zen-out and make the world even a slightly better place! If you’re interested, stay tuned for announcements in your classes, the department Facebook page, and the GeoDigest emails that area sent to geography majors.
Christina Shintani, who graduated with her Masters of Science in geography this past June, has won the top Research Map Gallery Award at the North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) conference in Colorado Springs. We already knew that her map entitled Restoring Fish Habitat in the Sandy River Basin rocked because she also wont the Bill Loy Award for Excellence in Cartography last May! Christina submitted her map in absentia, but as you can see from the photograph above, Jim Meacham, Director of the InfoGraphics Lab, and Joe Bard, MS ’16, were on hand to celebrate for Christina!
Congratulations and thanks for representing Oregon Geography, Christina!
The Association of Pacific Coast Geographers conference was in Portland Oct 5th-8th. Several UO Faculty and graduate students were in attendance. These events are always a wonderful chance to see what other geographers in the region are up to and to catch up with colleagues and former UO Geography students. The weather was overcast, the food was delicious, and the conference was a lot of fun!
And three UO Geography graduate students received awards!
Yi Yu received the APCG President’s Award for an Outstanding Paper by a Ph.D. Student for her paper entitled: Institutional mother, Professional Caregiver: The biopolitics of affective labor in state-owned welfare institutions in China.
Denielle Perry won the Christopherson Geosystems Award for Excellence in Applied Geography for her paper entitled: A political ecology of federal river conservation: 50 years of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act
Dongmei Chen won two travel awards, one from the APCG Women’s Network and the other was the APCG Student Travel Grant. This allowed her to present her poster entitled: Mapping fires regimes in China using MODIS active fire and burned area data
There were several other excellent presentations, including;
Dylan Brady: Rail culture in the Amtrak Cascades: Ethnographic notes.
Christine Carolan: The limits of environmental justice in the context of peace process: Examining environmental discourses related to natural resource management in post-conflict Northern Ireland.
Oiliva Molden and Katie Meehan: Moving beyond water insecurity in the Kathmandu Valley: Springs, spouts and nagas.
Dongmei Chen: Mapping fires regimes in China using MODIS active fire and burned area data
Alec Murphy and Anna Moore: Repositioning Central Asia: Moving beyond the Western geopolitical imagination
Katie Meehan and former Undergrad Coordinator (now at University of Nevada-Reno) Jessie Clark organized a panel discussion called Gender equity and diversity in higher education: Mentorship and strategies for action. One of the eloquent panelists was our own Amy Lobben.
Leslie McLees was on a panel examining Faculty perspectives on assessment.
Geography Professor Peter Walker spent much of last Winter in Harney County, Oregon, as the Malhuer Wildlife Refuge Occupation unfolded and developed. He attended community meetings, was able to gain access to the refuge while under occupation, and talked with people to understand the issues that were playing out. Professor Walker’s is currently writing a book on the effect of the occupation in Burns and teaching a course called Oregon Environmental Politics that focuses on the issues raised through this event. He continues to follow this as the Bundy trial plays out in Portland. Read more of the story here.
Word of mouth from nomadic herders led Lucas Silva into Tibetan forests and grasslands. What his team found was startling: Rapid forest growth in tune with what scientists had been expecting — but not yet seeing — from climatic changes triggered by rising levels of carbon dioxide.
Actual scientific findings to date have turned up declining growths in many forests in the face of a warming climate. Such had also been the case for Silva, who joined the UO’s Environmental Studies Program and Department of Geography in August.
Read the rest of the story here! And please welcome Dr Silva!
The InfoGraphics Lab is hiring a Non-Tenure-Track Research Assistant Cartographic Web/ Mobile Applications Developer beginning January 17th.
The Department of Geography’s InfoGraphics Lab is searching for a developer in the area of Geospatial Technologies focused on Cartographic Web/Mobile applications. The successful candidate of this position will primarily be responsible for designing and building web/mobile mapping and other spatial data applications to support academic activities. The InfoGraphics Lab is a mapping and geospatial technologies facility that engages in research, creative, and instructional activities. The Lab focuses on cartography, atlas design, data visualization, and Geographic Information Science. As a member of the InfoGraphics Lab the candidate will have the opportunity to collaborate with UO Geography faculty and other UO academic units to develop spatial applications that advance sponsored research projects and other creative efforts. The candidate will also have the opportunity to instruct a course related to their area of expertise within the Geography Department’s Spatial Data Science and Technologies curriculum.
See more at: UO Jobs Page http://jobs.uoregon.edu/unclassified.php?id=5638
The annual Bill Loy Award for Excellence in Cartography is given annually to a deserving graduate or undergraduate geography student at the University of Oregon for maps demonstrating a high proficiency if the application of the principles of cartographic design. Winners receive a $1000 scholarship.
A special thanks goes to Maude Caldwell for funding for this award.
Winners of the 2016 Bill Loy Award for Cartographic Excellence are:
Rudy Omri for his map Chasing Boralis
Christina Shintani for her map Restoring Fish Habitat in the Sandy River Basin
The 2016 Honorable Mention goes to:
Christina Appleby for her map Potential Stream Rehabilitation on the Lower Long Tom River, Oregon
(Christina asked that we not publish her map because of the nature of its content, but it’s spectacular)
And here are the recipients with Professor Amy Lobben, who announced the awards.
For a list of past recipients of the Low Award, click here.
The 2016 Trussell Family Foundation Scholarship is awarded annually to a Geography student ho has demonstrated high quality work on a project and a commitment to serving the community. The awardee receives a $2000 scholarship. The winner of this year’s Trussell Scholarship is Keene Corbin, for his online story-map entitled Mass incarceration: America’s big problem, and his commitment to issues of ethics and incarceration that have resulted in his engagement with the Inside-Out Program and the Carnegie Global Oregon Ethics Program. Keene also asked that his map not be published due to the sensitive nature of its content.
The 2016 Irwin and Renee Holzman Family Scholarship is given to geography majors who exhibit academic excellence and who provide outstanding contributions to the department community. Students are nominated on and voted upon by the faculty. Winners each receive a $400 scholarhsip.
This year’s winners are:
Congratulations to all of this year’s awardees!
Several of our PhD Students have won prestigious research awards this year. Jean Faye was awarded a Social Science Research Council Fellowship. Zack Thill was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship. Nick Perdue, Anna Moore, Megen Britell, Dylan Brady, and Zack Thill were all awarded National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grants. Congratulations all around!