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Geography Awareness Week: Igniting the Spirit of Exploration


Geography Awareness Week 2019 is November 10th through the 16th. Alan Arbogast is chair of MSU’s Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences.

“We feel that we need to really promote the discipline of geography and its relevance to societal needs, issues, and concerns,” says Arbogast.


“We're one of those disciplines that people don't understand particularly well. You don't need to have a Business Awareness Week or an Economics Awareness Week, but geographers are different. Most folks associate our discipline simply with maps, knowing the location of things, names of the longest rivers, mountain ranges, those sorts of things. What are the countries of the world? I've actually had parents of students say, ‘How can my child get a job knowing the capitals of the States?’

“The discipline involves so much more, and it's so highly relevant in many ways. Location theory, where do you put businesses and all of the different factors that are involved? Remote sensing of the Earth, monitoring climate change, environmental applications, you name it. There's great background in health and medical geography. The distribution of disease and how those vectors move across space. And so we are using this week to kind of get the word out a little bit better.”

On November 14 at 7 p.m. at Wharton Center’s Passant Theatre, the department presents a screening of The Smithsonian Channel’s The Green Book: A Guide featuring Q & A with filmmaker & director Yoruba Richen.

Yoruba Richen

“I want the audience to feel what it was like to travel at that time through these different time periods that we explore in the film,” Richen says. “But the main premise is that though the Green Book was created out of a necessity for safety and for places that would serve us, it soon became a book that also listed and helped foster communities where we went for recreation and pleasure. Though it was created from times that were scary in a lot of ways and were discriminatory, it also produced these communities of recreation and pleasure which have always been part of our history.”

“At a fundamental level, what we're trying to do is promote the discipline in a way that students might look at what we do differently and think, ‘You know what? That sounds really interesting. I might be able to get a good job.’ And certainly if you're working in the area of urban planning and policy with a spatial awareness, there are a lot of good jobs to have out there.”

MSU Today airs Sunday mornings at 9:00 on 105.1FM and AM 870.

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