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Film to highlight MSU Geography Awareness Week examines how people view water scarcity

MSU’s annual Geography Awareness Week is November 13 through 19.  The department’s name has been updated to the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences.

“The new name lets people know up front that geographers work with aspects of the environment of all kinds, and we think about spatial relationships and how they interact with one another,” says department chair Al Arbogast.

The department also has a new major in economic geography and is exploring the development of a new concentration in atmospheric and climate science.

“This year for Geography Awareness Week, we’re bringing in filmmakers of When the Well Runs Dry about how people are viewing the challenge of water scarcity in rural Kansas,” says Arbogast.  He calls the filmmakers “human geographers.”

On the evening of Thursday, November 17 at Wells Hall on the MSU campus, Steve Lerner and Reuben Aaronson will be presenting a composite of short films about water issues in the high plains of western Kansas. 

This part of the country is underlain by the High Plains Aquifer, which has been in rapid decline in the past few decades.  When the Wells Run Dry, focuses on people in the small town of Florence as they confront the issues of declining water supplies. 

“We thought at first we’d make a very small film about on small water issue, but what I learned as that when you look into one water issue, Pretty soon you bump into many more because there are so many issues pertaining to water, which is our most precious resource,” says Lerner.

Steve is a psychologist, songwriter, and filmmaker who is interested in the people in western Kansas and how they view themselves within the wide open spaces where water is increasingly scarce.  Good human geography.  Reuben is an acclaimed filmmaker whose work has been presented on the National Geographic Channel, NOVA, and the History Channel. 

“Kansas and many other areas have a very varying climate when it comes to water, but when you factor in climate change, you start seeing that it’s not just a natural cycle we’re dealing with now,” Lerner adds.

Click here to hear the Lerner/Heinze conversation.


Greening of the Great Lakes airs inside MSU Today Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on AM 870.

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