Monday, February 27, 2012

Bridgewater at AAG

Several members of the BSU Geography Department were among the 8,000 geographers attending the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in New York City. New York is among relatively few cities with the capacity to host this meeting, which has steadily increased in size. Not all of the BSU participants were even able to see each other at the meeting, which included 5,000 presentations over a period of five days. See the first day of the meeting calendar for some idea of the scale of this gathering!

As most of us know, Dr. Hellström is a leader in research about really cold places -- his dissertation work at the South Pole means that the whole rest of the planet is relatively mild by his standards. For this meeting, he organized a cryosphere poster session and paper contest, with participants describing research from high-latitude and high-altitude regions throughout the world.

Dr. Domingo and Warren Sutcliffe also attended the meetings, Warren to represent the NESTVAL region in the World Geography Bowl. Our department has done very well in recent years in the regional competitions in NESTVAL. One reason -- in addition to our very enthusiastic geography learners from the United States -- has been that our department attracted students from Brazil and South Africa who have studied geography every year from a young age, getting a bit of a head start!

Dr. Hayes-Bohanan participated on a panel that discussed geography as a diversity discipline and learned about the innovative TwiST geotechnology outreach program near Syracuse, which in some ways could be replicated at BSU.

Drs. Hellström and Hayes-Bohanan were able to hear highlight of the program on Saturday night, when former Irish President Mary Robinson challenged geographers to champion the cause of climate justice. She concluded her address as the second recipient of the prestigious AAG Atlas Award, with a compliment and an admonition. "You understand how our planet works," she said, so we have an obligation to work not only on the problem as whole, but on the highly uneven and inequitable spatial distribution of its causes and consequence.

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