Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Geotechnology Magic

It looks like magic, but it is really geography!

Thanks to Penn State Geospatial Revolution Project for tying it all together. We've been working toward this for a few thousand years.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Marshfield Conservation Commission Internship

Dr. Hellstrom recently received a request from the Town of Marshfield, whose Conservation Agent is seeking the help of a student to do some field-based mapping in support of the town's Open Space plan. This is an opportunity both to learn and to apply geographic skills to the protection of open space in an area rich with critical natural resources.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

La Isla Speaker

La Isla Foundation is an NGO based in León, Nicaragua, that provides political and economic support to sugarcane workers and their families in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. In this region of Nicaragua and throughout the Pacific lowlands of Central America, sugarcane workers are afflicted with chronic and deadly renal disease owing to their working conditions in the sugarcane fields and factories. The name “La Isla” refers to “La Isla de Viudas” – The Isle of Widows – so named for the wives and children left behind when their fathers, uncles, and brothers die of kidney disease as young as age 25.

Jason Glaser of La Isla will be a guest speaker in all of Dr. Hayes-Bohanan's classes on Tuesday, March 27. Geographers are welcome to visit any of the three classes, with a preference for the 9:30 class, when there is more room available.

The classes are all in Room 279. Organic coffee will be served.

GEOG 431: 9:30-10:45 am
GEOG 298: 12:30-1:45 pm
GEOG 298: 2:00-3:15 pm

Thursday, March 15, 2012

More Reasons to Study Abroad

The cost of higher education has remained remarkably constant over the past three decades, but the proportion borne directly by students has increased far faster than any other sector of the economy, with the exception of health care. For that reason, many view study abroad as a luxury for "other" students to enjoy.

In reality, study abroad is no longer an extra qualification; it is increasingly expected, and a lack of study-abroad experience is seen as a deficit. Rick Steves explains some of the benefits in the video below, as part of the NAFSA campaign A Global Education: No Longer Optional. Follow the campaign to be put in touch with students from throughout the United States who are interested in studying abroad.

Fortunately, all of the BSU Geography faculty have lived and studied in other countries -- a total of a few dozen, at least -- and draw on those experiences in our teaching.

Even more fortunate is the greater number of opportunities for our students to study abroad. The university study abroad program provides access to dozens of countries for semesters abroad, short-term study tours, and research experiences in other countries. Increasingly, the department provides opportunities to study geography in other countries, most notably Brazil, India, and Nicaragua. Most participants in the annual Geography of Coffee study tour in Nicaragua were from other departments, but in January 2012, most of the participants -- including all of those shown here -- were geography majors or minors.

Geographers should also consider studying foreign languages, even if their study abroad experiences do not strictly require it. The students shown above, for example, were on a short-term tour with a (reasonably) Spanish-speaking professor and a fluent local guide, but most still found the experience was even more rewarding to the extent that they could use even a little Spanish.

Bill McKibben in Weston -- Sunday March 25

Climate activist and environmental scholar Bill McKibben will be speaking at the Weston High School Sunday afternoon, March 25. The event will take place from 3-6 p.m. I have reserved a van and can take up to a dozen students, leaving BSU around 2 pm. Let me (Dr. Hayes-Boh) know if you are interested.

His current campaign is explained in the recent video sent to 350.org supporters. Whatever one's opinion on this campaign, the upcoming event is a chance to hear directly from people involved in an historic movement with many geographic implications. For background information, see my climate page.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

NESTVAL: Oct 19-20, 2012

We received this message today from our colleague Dr. Cathleen McAnneny at the University of Maine, Farmington, regarding the next annual meeting of the New England and St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society (NESTVAL):

The Geographers at the University of Maine Farmington are looking forward to seeing you October 19 - 20, 2012 in Farmington. This is a beautiful time of year here in the Western Mountains of Maine and we are planning an exciting meeting with great field trips and wonderful papers and posters from our colleagues.

So mark your calenders, save the dates and plan to join us for this exciting weekend.

BSU faculty and students have enjoyed participating at NESTVAL conferences, meeting other geographers from the region and often presenting both finished or in-progress reports on our research. Several of us were on hand the last time UMaine-Farmington hosted, and can verify that this is a lovely opportunity to spend some time with congenial geographers in a beautiful place!

Bell the Geographer

MassMoments is a daily message about historic anniversaries in Massachusetts history. Today it reminds readers that it was on March 7, 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell received his first patent for the telephone. He had done much of his work in Boston, and many of the early transmissions were between Boston and New York. The article is somewhat vague on which events happened in Boston and which elsewhere, but there were several direct connections to the city.

The article does not mention -- and few people know -- that Alexander Graham Bell became the first president of a small scientific society that had little more than a newsletter when he became involved. He and his son-in-law Gilbert Grosvenor built the National Geographic Society into the now-familiar worldwide organization, and every president since the founding has been a descendant, all named Gilbert Grosvenor.

According to a 2010 news release from ESRI, the Society's most prestigious award is the Alexander Graham Bell Medal. In 2010, two medals were awarded to pioneers in the development of GIS.

A few years ago, on a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Geographic Headquarters, I visited Bell's original office, where I was somewhat disappointed to see a cheap 1980s telephone on the desk!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

GeoPlace Magazine

This message is part of the Geography Take You There campaign, organized by the Association of American Geographers. It reminds me of what John Keating -- the Robin Williams character in Dead Poet's Society, had to say about the value of poetry:
... medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. 
This line has always reminded me that geography does both of the things that Keating was saying an education should do. It is a field that is both personally enriching and practical as a course of study.

On the practical side, we know that among the many fields of endeavor to which geographers are well-suited -- such as urban planning, environmental compliance, and international service -- work in geotechnologies has been identified as the most rapidly growing. The U.S. Department of Labor has identified growing opportunities at all levels in fields related to GIS, GPS, and the integration of these technologies into other arenas.

I was reminded of all of this when I received the latest electronic edition of the weekly GeoReport newsletter from GeoPlace. Having a geography degree in a period of rapid growth is not enough to secure employment, of course. It is necessary to develop one's professional networks and to be familiar with key trends in the technologies and their applications. Reading periodicals such as GeoReport and the monthly counterpart GeoWorld is a good way for students of geography to understand how their skills may be put into use in the workplace, and also to figure out which skills they might need to develop further. Fortunately, subscriptions to both are available for free from GeoPlace.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bike Path Workshop in New Bedford

Get Involved!
On Wednesday afternoon, March 14, SRPEDD will be leading a meeting at the Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech High School, to bring together various stakeholders in a discussion of a regional bike path. Many of our students have interned or worked at the planning agency that is spear-heading this effort. The workshop will be a great opportunity for networking, getting involved, and learning more about the cross-disciplinary work done by geographers in our region.

SRPEDD is working with environmental, recreational, and health-promotion organizations to promote a bike path from Providence to Provincetown, and to discuss bike-friendly communities throughout the region.

See the South Coast Today article for meeting details.