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January 24, 2018

Mapathon Fri Jan 26th

Join the newly renamed MapxNW (formerly known as Geography Club) as they do another USAID Youthmappers event to map flood infrastructure for flood mitigation efforts in Mozambique! Several MapxNWstudents will be on hand to train anyone who shows up, so no mapping experience required! Join us in Knight Library 144 anytime from 2pm – 4pm.

This mapping is easy and relaxing, but to spice things up, MapxNW is designing some activities and will be giving away prizes! Please join us!

November 9, 2017

Geography Awareness Week 2018: Civil Rights

Geography Awareness Week 2018 is upon us, and the theme from National Geographic this year is Civil Rights, a timely topic, to be sure. We have a slew of events going on to celebrate all things geography. Check it out!

All week long we’re hosting a photo contest. With the theme of civil rights in mind, we ask:

What does civil rights at the UofO look like to you?

Take the photo and post it to Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #uogaw2017

If you prefer to post anonymously, please email the photo to Leslie McLees, the geography undergraduate coordinator at with #uogaw2017 in the subject line. Your photo will remain anonymous.

Winners will be announced By Wednesday, Nov 22nd.

Tuesday, Nov 14th, 5pm, Knight Library Browsing Room: Dr. Imraan Buccus, a scholar and political commentator from South Africa, will be giving a talk entitled: The State of the Nation in South Africa: Lessons on the rise of populismDr. Baccus will draw connections between the backlash of populism in South Africa and the United States.
This week’s Tea will be an event Geography is helping sponsor for Carnegie Global Oregon Ethics Program.

Tuesday, Nov 14th, 12pm, Condon 108 (the Tea Room), The Geography will hosting a pizza lunch with Dr Buccus and 2017 alumnus Rachel Anderson. Along with his political writing, he also organizes study abroad programs in South Africa, though which 2017 alumni Rachel Anderson studied. Rachel and Dr Buccus will be on hand to chat about whatever you like, including potential for study abroad (anywhere, not just South Africa).

Thursday, Nov 16th, Geography Club will be hosting a MapTime event at 3:30 in Knight Library 144. MapTime is a national organization that seeks to being together people interested in mapping an visualization and learn some fun and innovative techniques for mapping. Joanna Merson, our new InfoGraphics researcher, will be presenting on using Google Mash-ups. Bring your laptops or use a computer in the room. You’ll learn something new!

Friday, Nov 17th, YouthMappers will be hosting another Mapathon in Knight Library 144 from 2-4pm. This time, focus on on maternal and infant health in Tanzania, Zambia, and Nigeria. No mapping experience needed! Engage in some digital humanitarianism!

We hope to see you at our exciting events!

November 4, 2017

Geographers and the Career Fair Week at UO!

It’s common for students to feel overwhelmed and uncertain at career fairs. What kinds of jobs can I do? What skills do I even have that they want? Do they hire geographers? Will they look at me blankly when I tell them I’m a geography major? What if I don’t like GIS and mapmaking? Will they ask me the capital of Burkina Faso? Aauuugh! (the capital is Ouagadougou, in case it comes up).

In reality, our students are very well-prepared, at least academically, for a career fair. The big trick is learning how to articulate all of the things you CAN ACTUALLY DO to an employer. If you’ve taken the Professional Geographer (GEOG 419), you’re on your way to doing this. If you haven’t (yet), there is still hope (email Dr. Leslie McLees, your advisor at

The Career Center is holding a week of activities designed to help prepare you for the Career Fair (See here for an even more in-depth list, which highlights certain employers holding extra workshops). This is brilliant. I particularly want to draw attention to the workshop on Tuesday about how to attend a career fair.
Here is an overview of the schedule:

  • Mon, Tues and Wed, Nov 6-8th
    Drop-In Career Advising Hours
    2 pm – 4pm          Career Center (in Hendricks Hall)
  • Mon, Nov 6th
    Workshop – Make the Most of the Fair
    11am                    Hendricks Hall
  • Tues, Nov 7th
    Workshop – What to Expect and How to Present Oneself
    11am                    Hendricks Hall
  • Wed, Nov 8th
    Pre-Fair Resume Check
    10am-2pm           Rec Center
  • Wed, Nov 8th
    Fall Networking Night
    5pm-7pm             EMU Ballroom
  • Th, Nov 9th
    Fall Career Fair
    12pm-4pm           EMU Ballroom
  • Fri, Nov 10th
    Fall Fair Interviews
    9am-4pm             EMU Ballroom

It’s difficult to just show up to a career fair without doing any preparation. First, you’ll get nervous and lose your motivation to go. Second, you won’t be prepared to think creatively about both the types of jobs you CAN do, and the types of jobs that these companies might have! Sometimes, even the recruiters don’t fully understand the breadth of what their companies do. It’s true, many get stuck in a business mindset, and don’t realize that Target will hire GIS Analysts and social science researchers. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Service will hire Data analysts AND biogeographers. Business, non-profits AND government want people who can think creatively across disciplinary divides (wait… economic development thinking might benefit from an environmental perspective? Where are the geographers!).

Do some RESEARCH on the employers you are interested in. There are 104 employers attending this event. Check them out here (upper left hand box). Get creative and think about what you can offer. They likely have a job for that!

Think about what you have learned. The top 10 skills that companies are interested in aren’t GIS or accounting. They are:
Ability to work as a team
Written communication
Oral communication
Strong work ethic
Analytical/ quantitative skills

There’s more, including detail-oriented, organization, friendly, interpersonal skills, etc.

Notice something? These are predominantly soft-skills. You can be trained how to push buttons. What employers want are people who can think critically to solve problems and effectively communicate! That’s what a degree in the liberal arts gets you. And since you’re studying what you really like (because who doesn’t like geography?!), you’re effectively learning those skills. Think about course projects (story maps? research paper?), clubs, volunteering, jobs, anything!

Don’t get caught up in job titles. Most of them are vague and don’t reflect what the entirety of the position. Keep an open mind. There’s won’t be a job title called Political Geographer or Person interested in the interactions between the Environment and Development. Instead, think about what you’re interested in (migration, refugees, resource use, climate change, spatial analysis, social justice, tree pollen) and find a way to talk about it. When you talk about what you’re passionate about, you will come across in a much more positive light and stick in the mind of that recruiter.

By the way, I can always help you learn to articulate these things in a career advising session ( or, our regular academic advising, or in GEOG 419 in Winter 2018! Or, while many of the jobs adds are slightly out of date (i’ll update it soon!), look at all the resources on this page.

Take resumes! You just never know…
But make sure it’s a well-formatted one. There are a million templates online. Do not be fancy, just get your info across to the reader.

Finally, think about the open ended yet answerable like…
-What kind of entry-level positions exist within your company?
-What does your company consider the 5 most important qualities in an employee?
-What courses do you suggest in order to be a successful candidate?
-What is the typical career path of an entry level employee?

Good luck! And let me know if you have any questions!
– Dr. Leslie McLees

October 30, 2017

Geography Tea Series: Dr Anne Nolin, Nov 2nd

Please join the Department of Geography in welcoming Dr. Ann Nolin a professor in Geography, Environmental Sciences, and Marine Resource Management at Oregon State University. Her talk is entitled Snow- forest interactions in a changing world. The talk will begin at 4:00pm in Condon 106.

Please join the department at 3:30 in Condon 108 for snacks and socializing before the talk.

October 10, 2017

On campus recruiting and interviews with ESIR Oct 16th!

On Monday, October 16th, Nick Kelch from ESRI will be holding an informational recruiting session at 5pm in Lillis 162. This is a great opportunity to learn more about all the opportunities available through ESRI (hint: it’s not just for software developers!). The following morning, Tuesday October 17th, Nick will be holding on-campus interviews in Room 208. You will need to sign up the evening before. Polish your resumes now! Geography and SDST students who want some feedback on their resume (though please, not at the last minute!) contact the Geography Academic and Career Advisor, Dr. Leslie McLees at We hope you can take advantage of this awesome opportunity!

October 6, 2017

Mapathon today!

Join the UO Geography Youth Mappers and the Library for an event to help map for disaster relief in Puerto Rico! No mapping experience required, and free pizza and drinks! Bring your own laptop, or use one of those that the library provides. We’ll teach you what to do!

September 15, 2017

Fall 2017 Tea Talk: Sept 28th with Dr. John Agnew

Please join the Department of Geography as we kick off our Fall Tea Speaker Series on Thursday, September 28th with prominent political geographer Dr. John Agnew, from the Department of Geography at UCLA. Dr. Agnew will give us a talk entitled: Putting China in the World: From Universal Theory to Contextual Theorizing. 

This talk will be at 4pm in Condon 106. Please join the department community as we gather beforehand in Condon 108 for snacks and socializing.

Abstract: By considering the geography of international relations (IR) knowledge this article attempts to use the rise of China to geopolitical prominence to question the applicability of universal theory. What usually goes for universal theory is in fact a perspective based very much in the experience of the West in general and the United States in particular. In its place the paper argues for the importance of competing IR narratives within Chinese policymaking and the bureaucratic politics of narrative framing for putting China in the world. After showing why universal theory is so attractive because of its familiarity, the article provides a survey of IR knowledge production and circulation and then argues for the perspective on theorizing that rejects the conventional wisdom for contextualized understanding of China’s place in the world.

August 2, 2017

UO Geog alum Dr. Easther Chigamura to give talk on Thursday, Aug 4th

Easther Chigamura is back in town, visiting from the University of Zimbabwe. She will be giving a talk entitled Consuming Urban Poverty: Twists and Turns in Zimbabwe’s Urban Food System and Food Security: A case of Epworth, Thursday Aug. 3, 12:00-1:00PM, Condon Hall 260. Come join us in welcoming her back!

Easther is also available for individual appointments on Aug 3, from 9AM to noon. Contact for scheduling.


Africa is considered the fastest urbanising continent in the world, however, rapid urbanisation is not going hand-in-hand with economic growth and increased well-being (Van Vark, 2013). Policy-makers and international institutions, such as the United Nations and the World Bank, recognise the problems resulting from urbanisation in African mega-cities, and frame cities as overpopulated, chaotic and as representing a failed urbanism full of poverty, disease and slums (Auclair 2005, McLees 2012). Despite this recognition of ‘failed urbanism’ and that even more poor people are living in African cities, development intervention and government policies continue to be biased toward rural localities.

The ESRC/DFID –funded Governing Food Systems in African Secondary Cities project, commonly referred to as the Consuming Urban Poverty Project (CUPP) focuses on the dynamics of poverty in Africa’s secondary cities in order to provide information and insights which can address poverty reduction. The project argues that poverty cannot be understood or addressed by focusing on poor individuals or households alone. Rather it needs to be understood as having many intersecting drivers operating at a range of scales, from the individual, to the neighborhood, to the city and beyond. The project therefore sought to understand the dynamic connections between poverty, governance and urban poverty. It positioned food as a powerful lens to understand these connections, by embracing Carolyn Steel’s assertion that “in order to understand cities properly, we need to look at them through food”. Therefore the central question for the project was “what does the urban food system in three secondary cities in Africa (Kitwe, Zambia; Kisimu, Kenya; and Epworth, Zimbabwe) reveal about the dynamics of urban poverty and its governance?”

This seminar focuses on key empirical findings from the project, which include a reverse value chain analysis of five key food products, spatial mapping of the formal and informal food retail environment, and in-depth household interviews to determine food systems and experiences of food insecurity in Epworth, Zimbabwe.  This research coincided with the ‘twists and turns’ in economic policy instruments set by the government of Zimbabwe (GoZ), which led to food-related protests and civil unrest across most urban localities. Civil unrest primarily centred on food and access thereof and was mostly visible in secondary cities like Epworth that have high prevalence of poverty and food poverty. The ‘timely’ coincidence of collecting data during such a period in which the GoZ introduced economic instruments that adversely affected the urban food system and household food security, reinforced the positioning that food is a critical entry point for understanding urban poverty, particularly in secondary cities and in shaping a new urban agenda and policy for Zimbabwe.

June 28, 2017

Congratulations Class of 2017!

Another Geography commencement ceremony has come and gone and as we settle in for the summer, the Department of Geography just wants to recognize the fabulousness of our students! Summer seemed to arrive on the day of graduation, making the ceremony fairly warm! However the spirit of the day, as usual, overcomes.




Our ceremony began with opening remarks from Dr. Dan Gavin, Geography department head, about his own personal reflections on the importance of perspective and places.

Newly minted PhD Dr. M. Jackson, fresh from her week being honored in Washington DC as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, gave arousing speech encouraging students to use their perspective, stand up, take notice of the world, make it better, and go further.

Alumni speaker Dr. Eric Sproles, who received his M. A. in Geography from UO in 2006, used a personal story of his grandmother, who attended UO, to encourage students to develop an appreciation of their places, their connections, and their world. And to keep going, making the world better along the way.

Dr. Alec Murphy then took the podium to announce the names of graduates with his usual gravitas.Afterwards we had a photo booth provided by Emerald Media, snacks, cake, and lots of hugs, congratulations and fun!

Congratulations to all students and families who attended!
Keep in touch and let us know how you are doing!

June 12, 2017

2017 Geography Commencement

Congratulations, 2017 Graduates! Please join the Department of Geography as we celebrate this year’s crop of freshly minted Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral students! On Monday, June 19th, 2017, we will gather as a department to celebrate our graduates. Please join us on the Knight Library Lawn on the East side of Condon Hall for remarks and the calling out of each graduates name. Families, friends, and guests are welcome to attend and celebrate!

If you are graduating and need more information, please click here for more info.

Campus will be busy! Please plan ahead for parking or for coming to campus via the bus.


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