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Department of Geography, Environment
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News & Events

  • Geography Student Receives Earth Science Award

    Jacob Arndt, a graduating senior in Geography, was recently awarded the Newton H. Winchell Award for Excellence in Earth Science at the Winchell Undergraduate Research Symposium that took place at Coffman Memorial Union on Friday, April 29. He won the award for his poster, which outlined how the upper-level jet affects commercial flight times in the Minneapolis-Seattle corridor. The poster was a part of his senior project. Congratulations Jacob!

    May 2nd, 2016
  • Brown Day 2016

    The annual GES Brown Day celebration was Friday, April 22. The day included student posters and presentations in the morning and early afternoon, followed by the Ralph H. Brown Memorial Lecture, Modeling Land-Change Processes Across Disciplines and Scales, presented this year by Professor Dan Brown of the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.

    April 22nd, 2016
  • GIS at UMN featured in Esri video

    Esri, builder of ArcGIS - the most powerful mapping software in the world, recently released a video featuring University Services of the Twin Cities campus.  The film, which includes past and present MGIS students and faculty, shows how U Services utilizes GIS for asset management.

    April 11th, 2016
  • GES student receives NSF

    GES Doctoral Fellow, Jessica Finlay, was recently awarded the NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant from the Division of Geography and Spatial Sciences.  This grant will help her continue analysis of individual, household and neighborhood-level factors affecting the health and well-being of older adults.  Congratulations Jessica! April 5th, 2016
  • Geography Undergrad to present at Interdiciplinary conference

    Geography student, Talia Anderson, will present a paper at the 4th annual Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Conference.  The conference, hosted by the Departments of Asian Languages, and Literatures, French and Italian, German, Scandinavian, and Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese Studies, and the Institute for Global Studies, will be held April 6 - 8th in 1210 Heller Hall.  Talia's paper, titled: Mexican Immigration to the United States: An Open Gateway or a Closed Door?, will be part of a larger panel on Friday, April 8th from 10:45 - 12:15 p.m.  A full conference program will be available at  Congratulations Talia!

    March 25th, 2016
  • Geography student in the media

    PhD candidate and Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellow, Jessica Finlay's research is featured on the Graduate School's website.  The story, Aging in the Right Place, will also appear in the next edition of The Synthesis, the weekly grad school electronic magazine. 

    February 17th, 2016
  • GES faculty member quoted in "The Best of the Twin CIties"

    Assistant Professor, Brenda Kayzar, was recently quoted in the in MplsStPaul Magazine.  The article entitled "What is North?"  appeared as part of the magazine's "Best of the Twin Cities, 2015".  Professor Kayzar's has also been quoted in 2 different Strib articles this fall regarding public art. 

    December 15th, 2015
  • UMN Geographer in the news!

    Dr. Arun Saldanha is quoted in a recent LA Times article that discusses renaming Geographic sites.

    November 19th, 2015
  • Building a More "Workable World"

    Geography Emeritus, Professor Joseph Schwartzberg, was instrumental in developing the Workable World Trust and Fellowship to support students and others who work to improve global governance through peaceful evolutionary processes.  The WWT's inaugural conference, Creating a Workable World, will take place Friday & Saturday, Oct. 9 & 10, at the Humphrey School. See the recent Global Spotlight article about this impressive accomplishment. Congratulations Joe!

    October 8th, 2015
  • Geography and MGIS Students to Participate in SUN Delegation

    Nine GES students have been selected to be part of the University's SUN delegation! Seven Undergraduates, one MGIS student, Ethan Mooar, and Class of 2015 graduate Connor Schaefer (Geography BA, Urban Studies minor ), who is now pursuing a Masters in Urban Planning at Humphrey. Jacob Arndt, Erin Saatela, Coleman Shepard, and Clayton Watercott are currently Geography majors, Brady Steigauf is an Urban Studies major, and Kayla Chapman and Tyler Redden are pursuing their Bachelor's in Biology, Society, and Environment. The goal of the SUN delegation is to have the University of Minnesota invest in, or build, at least 1 megawatt (MW) of solar energy. Learn more about SUN.

    September 17th, 2015
  • Welcome to the newest GES PhD students!

    September 16th, 2015
  • GES student published in Journal of Hydrology

    Kudos to Emma Bialecki, one of our new Geography PhD students. Her co-authored article "A multi-century tree-ring record of spring flooding on the Mississippi River” appears in the October 2015 issue of Journal of Hydrology.  Outstanding work in an excellent venue, the study combines analyses of tree-ring wood anatomy, flood hydrology, and synoptic climatology.  Congratulations Emma!

    September 3rd, 2015
  • One Way to Fight California Drought: Study Trees!

    GES faculty member, Dan Griffin's research is the subject of a short documentary from FiveThirtyEight and ESPN Films.  Congratulations Dan!

    August 27th, 2015
  • GES alumus in Minneapolis Tribune

    Kenny Blumenfeld, GES PhD graduate and climatologist with the Minnesota DNR, appeared in an article in today's Minneapolis Star/Tribune today, Thursday, August 27, 2015. August 27th, 2015
  • Another article about GES PhD student in the field

    Read the latest article about incoming PhD student Chelsea Cervantes De Blois' work with Soya farmers in Southern Kyrgyzstan.  August 21st, 2015
  • Geography Undergraduate's on-line piece

    A story, debunking the suggestion of the upcoming 'mini ice age', submitted by Geography undergraduate, Andrew Urevig, appeared recently on  Before you decide to buy a new winter jacket, be sure to read Andrew’s reality check. July 20th, 2015
  • Incoming PhD student in the field

    Chelsea Cervantes De Blois, who will be joining the GES department in Fall 2015, is currently in Osh Kyrgyzstan, working as an agricultural consultant with local farmers. The group is investigating how to grow soy in soil of the Karasuu and Aravan districts, while implementing different irrigation practices. Chelsea will work with the farmers, for three months, with the goal of developing  innovative approaches in regard to their agricultural production.

    July 14th, 2015
  • What does your front yard say about you? GES PhD in Minneapolis newspaper article

    Ursula Lang stood in her yard in Minneapolis, on Thursday June 4, 2015. Lang studied the cultural geography of yards in Minnesota and urban environmentalism while receiving her PhD in geography at the University of Minnesota. "How people cared for their lawns varies a lot based on ideas about environmentalism and pressures from other neighbors" said Lang.  Read complete article

    July 2nd, 2015
  • GES Grad Student Research: Theraputic Landscapes in Later Life

    Jessica Finlay, GES Doctoral Candidate, recently published a paper in Health & Place based upon her RA work in Vancouver Canada the summer of 2013. It is entitled "Therapeutic Landscapes in Later Life: Impacts of Blue and Green Spaces for Older Adults". Currently she is interviewing seniors in the Minneapolis area as part of her doctoral research.
    June 12th, 2015
  • GES Professor Scott St. George and Undergraduate, Dan Crawford, convey climate change through music.

    A string quartet from the University of Minnesota's School of Music performed "Planetary Bands, Warming World", Dan Crawford's latest musical arrangement. The piece conveys how climate in the Northern Hemisphere has changed over time. Read more and listen to the entire composition.

    June 12th, 2015
  • Exciting News! Changes in Graduate Curriculum

    Prospective students entering as part of the Fall 2015 cohort will have the opportunity to apply directly to the PhD program without first attaining a Master's degree. More details here. June 1st, 2015
  • Fraser Hart in the news AGAIN May 5th, 2015
  • George Henderson Wins COGS Outstanding Faculty Award!

    Congratulations to GES professor, George Henderson, winner of 2015 of the COGS Outstanding Faculty Award!

    Professor Henderson teaches in the areas of geographic thought, urban geography, social-cultural geography, and Marx's political economy. He has contributed to the education of numerous geographers.

    This award was established in 2010 as a way to recognize contributions of faculty members who go above and beyond in their work with graduate students. It is the only award where faculty members are nominated by and winners are selected by graduate students. The award has rightly been bestowed on Professor Henderson.

    April 29th, 2015
  • John Fraser Hart: "Just and old country geographer"

    The U of M's oldest professor is teaching his last semester

    April 24th, 2015
  • Val Bjornson Scholarship awarded to BSE major!

    Please extend your Congratulations to Alyssa Rockwelll, a Biology, Society, and Environment major and our very own BSE Peer Advisor! Alyssa is this year's recipient of the Val Björnson Scholarship. This scholarship will fund studies, research, and living expenses in Iceland for the 2015-2016 academic year.

    Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Alyssa.jpgAlyssa is interested in both environmental and health related issues and has taken advantage of BSE's flexibility to develop a strong biology background that will prepare her for a variety of career paths. She has taken several advanced courses with faculty at the School of Public Health and is working with Dr. Kirk Allison for her senior project, Societal and Cultural Factors Influencing Prevalence and Manifestation of Eating Disorders Internationally. Aly will complete her BSE major requirements prior to her departure.

    April 22nd, 2015
  • Minnesota AAG Reception

    The AAG Party/Reception is taking place this Wednesday, April 22 from 730-10pm at the Jazz Showcase, 806 South Plymouth Ct., Chicago. This year we have a band!!! This event is co-sponsored with U of Wisc and University of Illinois. See attached flyer. The Jazz Showcase does not serve food, but guests are welcome to purchase food from Bar Louie next door and bring it back to the venue without an issue.

    April 20th, 2015
  • Urban Studies Undergrads take 2nd place in Real Estate Development Challenge

    A group of Urban Studies students won 2nd place in the 2015 University Real Estate Challenge. Each year undergraduate student teams from Midwest universities act as development consultants for the same development site. This year a 2 acre Bassett Creek site in Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood was the chosen site.
    Our students are Urban Studies, Architecture and Entrepreneur Studies majors. The U of M team made it through the initial judging to the top 3 and were able to present to the 100+ member audience. Their second place finish will bring $2500 to the University Foundation to be distributed to the Judith A. Martin fund, and $500 to the team itself.

    See the names of the team members and the rest of the story.

    April 11th, 2015
  • John Fraser Hart Celebration THIS FRIDAY - venue change

    Join the Department of Geography, Environment and Society as we celebrate the career of Professor John Fraser Hart on Friday, April 17, at 3:30 in Blegen 10.

    Note the change of venue: Blegen 10


    April 10th, 2015
  • All About Arts Districts with Brenda Kayzar - a podcast is dedicated to expanding the conversation about land use and transportation issues in the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota. Recently it's podcast was a conversation with Assistant Professor of Geography, Brenda Kayzar. Brenda researches urban real estate, housing, and the role of artists in urban economies. She was interviewed by UMN Geography graduate, Dr. Bill Lindeke, to talk about the history and future of "arts districts" in the US, particularly the northeast Minneapolis arts district, where Brenda serves on the board of an arts advocacy organization.

    March 5th, 2015
  • 3 UMN Geographers in the news!


    Read the article which appeared in the Minneapolis StarTribune, February 13, 2015.

    February 18th, 2015
  • Lorena Munoz receives prestigious fellowship

    Assistant Professor, Lorena Munoz, has been awarded the Woodrow Wilson 2015 Career Enhancement Fellowship funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation,

    The goal of the Career Enhancement Fellowship Program is to increase the presence of minority junior faculty members and other faculty members committed to eradicating racial disparities in core fields in the arts and sciences.

    Lorena will receive a one-year sabbatical stipend; a research, travel or publication grant; and participation in a two-and-one-half day annual conference/retreat.

    Congratulations on a well deserved honor!313783.jpg

    February 5th, 2015
  • Congratulations to Lalit Batra and Jessica Finlay!

    They both have been awarded Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowships(IDF) for the 2015-16 academic year.

    The IDF provides a unique opportunity for outstanding doctoral students whose research is interdisciplinary and who would benefit from interaction with faculty at one of the University's interdisciplinary research centers or institutes. Jessica and Lalit were both endorsement by a host center - Jessica the center on Aging; Lalit the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change - then they were nominated by GES to the University wide fellowship.

    The fellowship provides a stipend of $23,000 for the academic year (September-May), tuition for up to 14 graduate credits each semester (fall & spring), and subsidized health insurance through the Graduate Assistant Health Plan.

    Congratulations Jessica! Congratulation Lalit!

    February 4th, 2015
  • Congratulations to the 2015-17 McKnight Land-Grant Professor

    Kate Derickson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography, Environment and Society, has been awarded the Junior McKnight Land-Grant Professorship. This
    two-year award is designed to advance the careers of exceptional junior faculty.

    Kate is an urban political economist working with the intersections of feminist epistemology, racialization and political economy. Particularly she is interested in understanding how academic scholarship can resource historically marginalized communities.

    Congratulations Kate!

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    January 21st, 2015
  • A map for the day!

    January 16th, 2015
  • Professor Nikhil Anand honored

    Nikhil Anand was awarded the Junior Scholar Award by the Anthropology and Environment Society of the American Anthropological Association for his forthcoming paper "Leaky States: Water Audits, Ignorance and the Politics of Infrastructure in Mumbai" which is to be published in the highly regarded journal Public Culture.

    The award is presented to early-career scholars, for the purpose of encouraging talented junior scholars to continue working in the domain of anthropology and environment by recognizing their exemplary scholarship.
    Congratulations Nikhil!

    January 16th, 2015
  • Sarah Elwood confirmed as Brown Day speaker 2015

    Sarah Elwood, Professor of Geography at the University of Washington, will be the speaker at Brown Day, May 1, 2015.

    Professor Elwood received her PhD from the Geography Department at UMN in 2000. She currently is the co-director of the Relational Poverty Network and is conducting comparative research on middle class poverty politics in mixed income residential neighborhoods in Buenos Aires and Seattle.

    More information about the Annual Brown Day events are forthcoming.

    Thumbnail image for S.Elwood.jpg

    January 16th, 2015
  • Congratulations to Sara Nelson on her award of the Thomas H. Shevlin

    Sara Nelson has been awarded the Thomas H. Shevlin Fellowship for the 2015-16 academic year. This award will fund her research project: The Nature of Value: Building the Ecosystem Service Industry. The fact that Sara received the award in this university-wide competition speaks volumes about her work.

    January 16th, 2015
  • Local News story: U of M Helps Map Ebola Treatment

    This story, featuring Geography's PhD student, Brittany Krzyzanowski, as the primary RA in working with the School of Nursing for U-Spatial, recently aired on KSTP's news report.

    January 16th, 2015
  • Welcome New GES Faculty Members!

    The Department of Geography, Environment and Society welcomes its newest faculty members, Assistant Professors Nikhil Anand and Daniel Griffin.


    Nikhil Anand theorizes the dynamic social and environmental processes that form cities and states in the global South. Drawing on new approaches in urban geography, cultural anthropology and political ecology, his current project focuses on the production and maintenance of hydraulic infrastructures, and the social and environmental relations that they entail. Framed by popular and scholarly anxieties about the burgeoning cities of the global South on one hand, and the uncertain futures of water resources on the other, his recently submitted book manuscript, Infrapolitics: The Social Life of Water in Mumbai, is an ethnographic account of how urban water is made, moved, and subsequently delivered to marginalized residents in one of the world's largest cities. His new research follows water to new locations to theorize the political work of uncertainty and disgust in everyday life. He plans to teach courses on cities and urbanization, political ecology, the developmental state, and infrastructure.


    Daniel Griffin is a biophysical geographer with interests in climate science, water resource issues, environmental dynamics and natural areas conservation. His research is largely focused on paleoclimatology, which is the study of natural climate variability from environmental proxy data. Dan is a field scientist with over fifteen years of experience developing and interpreting tree-ring records. He is now the third Geography faculty member at the UMN Center for Dendrochronology. Dan's current work is focused on hydroclimatic change and variability in places like California, the American Southwest, and Guatemala. A recipient of the NOAA Climate & Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship, Dan was previously appointed at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Dan is now affiliated with the University Honors Program , and is currently teaching an honors freshman course in biogeography. In coming semesters, Dan plans to offer upper-division courses in climatology and conservation of natural resources.

    October 23rd, 2014
  • Geography Undergrad - Michael Southwell - awarded FLAS Fellowship

    Please extend your Congratulations to Michael Southwell, a Geography-Spanish/Portuguese double major and our very own Geography Peer Advisor!


    Michael Southwell was awarded the prestigious Foreign Language & Advanced Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship for the 2014-15 academic year. The FLAS Fellowship will support Michael's advanced study of the Portuguese language and further study of Southern Africa.

    For more information about the FLAS fellowship program:

    October 23rd, 2014
  • Welcome to the new GES graduate students





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    October 10th, 2014
  • Today in Science!

    Happy News! Science just published an article by new GES faculty Dan Griffin and his colleagues at UT Austin, Woods Hole, the Swiss Forest Research Institute, and several others. The core of the study uses a wonderful set of tree-ring records to understand how upwelling off the California coast has behaved during the last several centuries.

    More information below. Congratulations Dan!

    Six centuries of variability and extremes in a coupled marine-terrestrial ecosystem

    May 1st, 2014
  • Emeritus Professor Joe Schwartzberg in the News!

    Emeritus Professor Joe Schwartzberg is featured in a MinnPost article by Eric Black titled "U.N. doesn't work, and a U of M professor has a plan to fix it." The article discusses structural problems at the U.N. and some of the solutions Professor Schwartzberg offers in his new book Transforming the United Nations System.

    from the article "... Schwartzberg has outlined a set of changes in {U.N.} power arrangements that, he writes, "if adopted, would help remedy, those deficiencies" in the U.N. structure that undermine the credibility and therefore the power of the world body."

    Read the entire MinnPost article here.


    April 24th, 2014
  • Congratulations Dinesh! Another recent grad hired for a tenure-track position

    Congratulations Dinesh!


    Dr. Dinesh Paudel (PhD '12), presently Post-Doctoral Fellow at Dartmouth College, has accepted a tenure-track position at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He will be joining them as Assistant Professor in the Department of Sustainable Development.

    February 20th, 2014
  • Congratulatons Omar! Another recent grad hired for a tenure-track position!

    Congratulations Omar!
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    Dr. Omar Tesdell (PhD '13), until recently Arab Council of Social Sciences Post-Doctoral Fellow at Birzeit University, has accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor in Geography at Birzeit.
    February 20th, 2014
  • Song of Our Warming Planet

    Dan Crawford, an undergraduate who has worked with Geography Professor Scott St. George and School of Music staff member Michael Duffy, has created a musical score based on a set of data showing the rise in the planet's temperature over time. Since its release in July 2013, the video highlighting Dan's composition ( has been viewed more than 130,000 times in 140+ countries. His performance has also been the focus of stories featured by a long list of media outlets, including Popular Science, Minnesota Public Radio, the Weather Channel, Slate (twice) and the New York Times (three times).

    On Wednesday, November 20, 2013, Dan and Scott St. George will be giving a public lecture to discuss his composition (and the reaction it has received) at UMN's Institute on the Environment.

    'Resonate! How 90 Seconds of Cello Music Is Helping People Connect With Climate Science'
    November 20 at noon
    IonE Seminar Room R380,
    Learning & Environmental Sciences Bldg., St. Paul

    November 14th, 2013
  • New Faculty in GES!


    The Department of Geography, Environment and Society welcomes its newest faculty member, Assistant Professor Kate Derickson. Kate joined the faculty in late August and is currently teaching a Freshman Seminar titled Social Justice and the City.

    Kate earned a dual PhD in Geography and Women's Studies from Penn State in 2011 (dissertation title: The cultural politics of neoliberal regulation in post-Katrina Mississippi). She was awarded the Urban Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship in Urban Political Economy at the University of Glasgow from 2010 - 2011, and an assistant professor in Geosciences at Georgia State University from 2011 - 2013. Kate's research explores the intersections of politics, difference, political economy, and the ethical practice of academic research. She has worked with communities in coastal Mississippi, West Atlanta, and the Govan neighborhood of Glasgow, Scotland.

    Kate's office is 435 Social Science Building. Stop by and say hi!

    October 31st, 2013
  • Fall 2013 Coffee Hour Speakers


    September 17th, 2013
  • William J. Cronon Brown Day Speaker

    "The Portage: Reflections on Nature, History, and Storytelling in the Making of an American Place"

    In a lecture based on the opening chapter of the book he is writing on the history of Portage, Wisconsin, environmental historian William Cronon meditates on the role of memory and storytelling in the complicated ways human beings construct their individual and collective sense of place. A natural ecosystem or an abstract geographical space becomes a human place, he argues, through the endless accretion of narratives that render that place meaningful for those who visit or live in it. Portage is an especially interesting community in which to explore this idea, since it was the home town of Frederick Jackson Turner, the American historian who authored the famous "frontier thesis." It was also the town into whose hinterland John Muir migrated as an eleven-year-old boy from Scotland, and the town where Aldo Leopold's "Shack," famed subject of the book A Sand County Almanac, is located. Although virtually unknown to most Americans, few places have played so central a role in shaping our national ideas of nature.

    William J. Cronon is the Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas Research Professor of History, Geography, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He will be delivering a lecture based on his book project about the environmental history and historical geography of Portage, Wisconsin. He is a Past President of the American Historical Association and author of Changes in the Land and Nature's Metropolis. The lecture will last for about 90 minutes and will take place in Honeywell Auditorium (L-110) in the Carlson School starting at 3:30 on Friday, May 3.

    Complimentary refreshments and coffee will be served at 3:10 PM. In addition, there will be a reception for alumni and their guests in the Carlson Private Dining Room immediately following the lecture.

    William J. Cronon's visit and talk co-sponsored by the Department of History and the Institute for Advanced Study, UMN.

    William Cronon.jpg

    April 12th, 2013
  • Fraser Hart featured on KARE 11

    Professor Fraser Hart was featured in a story on KARE 11. Click here for a great story on his ongoing career!

    April 10th, 2013
  • Jerry Shannon accepts 3-year position at U of Georgia

    Jerry Shannon has accepted a three year position as a temporary assistant professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia. Jerry is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the department and expects to complete his degree this summer. His research reframes current work on urban "food deserts" by investigating the factors that shape the food procurement of low-income individuals, using both data on food stamp usage and case studies of two Minneapolis neighborhoods. More information on this research is available on his professional website.

    J-headshot 2012.jpg

    April 8th, 2013
  • Christopher J. Crawford is awarded a NASA Post-Doctoral Fellowship

    This August 2013, Christopher will start a NASA Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He will collaborate with Dorothy Hall, NASA Senior Research Scientist on the project "Monitoring Climate-Driven Changes in Mountain Snowpack Extent across the Western United States: A Multi-sensor Approach to Climate Data Record Development using Landsat, MODIS, and VIIRS".

    Learn more about Christopher at

    April 8th, 2013
  • Abdi Samatar elected President African Studies Association

    Abdi Samatar, Professor in the Department of Geography, Environment and Society has been elected President of the African Studies Association. Dr. Samatar began his tenure as President in November of 2012. More on the African Studies Association here.20090820_abdi-samatar_33-1.jpg

    ~from the ASA website: "Established in 1957, the African Studies Association is the largest organization with a global membership devoted to enhancing the exchange of information about Africa.... The African Studies Association encourages the production and dissemination of knowledge about Africa, past and present. Based in the United States, the ASA supports understanding of an entire continent in each facet of its political, economic, social, cultural, artistic, scientific, and environmental landscape. Our members include scholars, students, teachers, activists, development professionals, policymakers and donors."
    December 13th, 2012
  • Francis Harvey, new Chair of Geographic Information Science Commission at IGU

    GES Associate Professor Francis Harvey became Chair of the Geographic Information Science Commission at the International Geographical Union in August 2012. The mission of the Commission on Geographic Information Science (GISc) is to advance the study of geographical information science internationally, and to enhance the role and contributions of geographers in the development of Geographic Information Science and of Geographic Information Science in the development of geography. Learn more about the Commission and the IGU here.FrancisHarveyPhoto.png

    November 13th, 2012
  • Welcome New Geography Graduate Students!

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    September 4th, 2012
  • Macalester Grants Tenure Status to U of M Alum

    Laura Smith - Macalester.jpg
    St. Paul, Minn. - Macalester College has granted tenure status to Laura Smith, associate professor of Geography in the Geography Department. Smith received her PhD and MA from the University of Minnesota and her BA from Macalester College. She joined the Macalester faculty in 2004 as an assistant professor.

    Smith is an urban geographer whose recent research projects have focused on mortgage foreclosure patterns in the Twin Cities, transportation and development, and on issues of American Indian land ownership.
    Smith teaches Metropolitan Analysis, Urban GIS, Transportation Geography, Regional Geography of the U.S. and Canada, and Statistical Research Methods in Geography.
    Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,978 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism, and civic engagement. Learn more at
    July 25th, 2012
  • Macalester Grants Tenure Status to U of M Alum

    Daniel Trudeau - Macalester.jpg
    St. Paul, Minn. - Macalester College has granted tenure status to Daniel Trudeau, associate professor of Geography in the Geography Department. Trudeau, an urban social geographer whose research examines urban political economy, cultural landscapes, and social justice, received his PhD from the University of Colorado, Boulder, his MA from the State University of New York at Buffalo and his BA from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He joined the Macalester faculty in 2006 as an assistant professor.

    Trudeau's research experience represents his diverse set of interests in urban geography. He believes Geography is an important part of a liberal arts education. In his teaching, he tries to develop an awareness and appreciation of how geography matters for understanding the world around us, focusing on the usefulness of geographic concepts and perspectives for understanding social problems, politics, and culture.
    Trudeau teaches Urban Social Geography, Political Geography and Cities of the 21st Century: the Political Economy of Urban Sustainability.
    Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,978 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism, and civic engagement. Learn more at
    July 25th, 2012
  • Geography student's project gets national attention

    erikawertz.jpgfrom an article by Bill McAuliffe at the Star Tribune:

    "Erika Wertz might measure her college career in tree rings. Wertz, a University of Minnesota senior, has been studying what the rings in bur oak trees in the Red River Valley can reveal about floods in the distant past, which someday may also indicate what the future might hold for the flood-prone Red and its broad, populated, level valley. Wertz's research is similar to other studies in "paleoclimatology," in which researchers look for clues about past weather and climate events by studying ice cores as well as layers of pollen, volcanic ash and the like laid down long before the advent of modern record-keeping."

    Read the full story here.

    April 9th, 2012
  • Brown Day Lecture April 27

    Join us for the Ralph H. Brown Memorial Lecture by Susan Cutter, Carolina Distinguished Professor and Director, Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, Department of Geography, University of South Carolina.

    Where: 3M Classroom 1-106 Hanson Hall on the West Bank of the U of M campus.
    When: Coffee/refreshments 3:15; talk starts at 3:30 and ends at 5pm with a Q&A

    Moving from Hazard Vulnerability to Disaster Resilience: The Experience from Mississippi's Gulf Coast

    For the past decade, hazards and disasters researchers have focused on what makes people and places vulnerable to natural hazards. The development of geo-referenced vulnerability metrics, especially those capturing social vulnerability (such as the Social Vulnerability Index), enabled comparisons between places in terms of attributes that influenced the ability of populations to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Hazard vulnerability assessments (including both social and physical vulnerability) are now the basis for county and state hazard mitigation plans nationwide. Instead of focusing on vulnerability reduction as a pathway towards disaster risk reduction, federal agency interest is centered on enhancing the nation's resilience to natural disasters. Using Mississippi's Gulf Coast and its experience with Hurricane Katrina as an exemplar, this lecture describes the concept of disaster resilience and current efforts underway to measure disaster resilience from community to regional scales.

    April 6th, 2012
  • Urban Revolutions In the Age of Global Urbanism

    A new grant was received from the UK-based journal Urban Studies Foundation's International call for proposals for a seminar series. PI's on the grant include professors Vinay Gidwani, Helga Leitner, and Eric Sheppard of the Geography Department.

    This grant will support a conference that will take place in Jakarta, March 16-20, 2012.

    Urban Revolutions in an Age of Global Urbanism is being organized by Eric Sheppard (University of Minnesota), Helga Leitner (University of Minnesota), Ananya Roy (University of California), Vinay Gidwani (University of Minnesota), Jo Santoso (Tarumanagara University), and Michael Goldman (University of Minnesota)

    March 9th, 2012
  • Minnesota Reception now part of Southwest by Midwest


    The Minnesota Reception, our annual get together at the AAG has a new look this year.
    We've joined forces with UW-Madison to sponsor "Southwest by Midwest."

    Please join us at the Stitch Bar on Saturday night, February 25th in NYC!

    Stitch Lounge (downstairs)
    247 West 37th Street (between 7th and 8th Ave)
    8pm to Close


    This is a co-production with UW-Madison and includes Exeter and Bristol! Don't Miss Out!

    February 25th, 2012
  • Chris Strunk and Helga Leitner in The Nation

    logo-main.gifPh.D. student Chris Strunk and Geography Professor Helga Leitner have a new article in The Nation titled "Redefining Secure Communities." Read it here!

    February 14th, 2012
  • City Redistricting and Jeff Matson's Geography 5564 - Urban GIS

    p1cityredistricting.JPGGeography 5564, Urban GIS, was recently highlighted in the MNDaily. The class, taught by Jeff Matson, welcomed Mike Dean, executive director for Common Cause of Minnesota as part of project on redistricting that will create maps for Minneapolis city wards. The maps the class produces will be submitted to the city. Read the story here.

    February 2nd, 2012
  • Yu Zhou

    yuzhou_side.jpgYu Zhou, Professor of Earth Science and Geography at Vassar College and an alum of the U of M's Geography Department, has an article in the Huffington Post on the possibilities of fair trade as a way of addressing the controversy over Apple (and others') subcontractors in China. See the full article here.

    Yu Zhou is also author of "The Inside Story of China's high-tech industry: Making Silicon Valley in Beijing." She received her Ph.D. from the Geography Department in 1995.

    February 2nd, 2012
  • Bruce Braun Appointed AAG Annals Section Editor

    The AAG Council voted recently to appoint Bruce Braun, Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, as Editor of the Nature and Society section of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers. His term will begin on January 1, 2012.


    Click here for the full article at the AAG website.

    December 13th, 2011
  • WWII vet leads an old-fashioned classroom

    p1veteran.jpgFraser Hart, Professor in the Geography Department, is the subject of a special Veterans Day salute in the Minnesota Daily's November 10th issue. Click here for the full story.

    November 11th, 2011
  • $8 million NSF grant for population/environment data network

    An interdisciplinary team has been awarded a five-year, $8 million
    grant from the National Science Foundation to boost understanding of
    population-environment relationships on a global scale. The project,
    Terra Populus, is a collaboration of The Minnesota Population Center,
    the Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota Libraries,
    and faculty from the College of Liberal Arts and College of Science
    and Engineering, as well as Columbia University and the University of

    The research will create new opportunities for understanding the
    relationship between population and the environment on a global scale.

    The lead investigators from the University of Minnesota are Steven
    Ruggles (Minnesota Population Center), Jonathon Foley (Institute on
    the Environment), Victoria Interrante (Computer Science and
    Engineering), Wendy Pradt Lougee (University of Minnesota Libraries),
    Steven Manson (Geography), Jaideep Srivastava (Computer Science and
    Engineering) and Shashi Shekhar (Computer Science and Engineering).
    With this award, TerraPop will be an NSF Sustainable Digital Data
    Preservation and Access Network (DataNet) Partner. The DataNet
    initiative aims to provide reliable digital preservation, access,
    integration and analysis capabilities for science and/or engineering
    data over a decades-long timeline.
    For more information, see the news release.
    October 19th, 2011
  • Judith Martin

    Thumbnail image for JudithMartin5x7.jpg
    Memorials can be directed to:

    Minnesota Fringe Festival, 79 - 13th Avenue NE, Suite 112, Minneapolis, MN 55413

    Friends of Northrop Dance Season, Fund 1996, University of Minnesota Foundation, Lockbox B, PO Box 70870, C-M 3854, St. Paul, MN 55170-3854

    The Judith Martin Memorial Fund, c/o University of Minnesota Foundation, C-M 3854, PO Box 70880, Saint Paul, MN 55170-3854

    From James Parente, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts
    The Department of Geography, College of Liberal Arts and the University mourn the loss of Professor Judith Martin, who passed away early Monday morning, October 3, 2011.

    Judith Martin was a home-grown jewel at the U. She received her M.A. in American history and M.A. and Ph.D. in American studies here at the U. She began her service here as a research associate in the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs in 1976, and held various term positions in CLA until she was hired as a professor in geography and director of the Urban Studies program in 1989.

    Judith was an exemplary University citizen, one who senior administrators knew they could depend upon for thoughtful leadership and counsel. Her CV is filled with work on committees across the University, many of which she served as chair or vice-chair: Faculty Consultative Committee, University Senate, Senate Committee on Finance and Planning, and countless other committees on governance, planning, teaching, and students. She was an invaluable member of CLA's 2015 planning committee last year, and this year served on the provostal search committee.

    Judith was a 15-year member of the Minneapolis Planning Commission, seven years as president. She brought her knowledge and leadership to the city she loved, contributing to the development of plans for land use, downtown development, light rail stations, and the new zoning codes that were developed in the '90s.

    In addition to directing the Urban Studies program, Judith was founding co-director of the University Metropolitan Consortium. She seamlessly blended her research, teaching and service, and was widely sought for her expertise on urban planning, policy and governance; historic preservation; urban sprawl; and landscape and culture. Judith advanced the University's public engagement agenda through community-engaged research and outreach in urban and metropolitan issues. She also contributed to early strategic planning discussions to formulate the vision for UMore Park, with a special focus on academic opportunities for faculty, students and staff.

    "I have often used the Twin Cities as a base for my work, due to my early belief that all too much urban research ignored the experiences of the most typical of American urban areas," she wrote. Her scholarly and community work were the subjects of a profile in CLA Today in 2004.

    Over the course of her distinguished career in CLA and at the U she received many awards for teaching and service, including the Morse Amoco/Alumni Teaching Award, Academy of Distinguished Teachers, College of Continuing Education Teaching Award, CLA Alumna of Notable Achievement, and President's Award for Outstanding Service.

    University President Emeritus Robert Bruininks said, "I received the news of Judith's passing with deep sadness. She was a dear friend of ours, and frequent confidante and advisor whose leadership, thoughtfulness, and broad perspective on issues impacting the University were invaluable to me over the past many years. We enjoyed so many walks along the Mississippi River together and had looked forward to many more. Susan and I will miss Judith terribly."

    October 3rd, 2011
  • 2.5 million U-Spatial Initiative

    Congratulations to Geography Professor's Francis Harvey and Steve Manson who recently received, along with a group of other collaborators across campus, a 2.5 million I3 (Infrastructure Investment Initiative) award for the U-Spatial Initiative.

    U-Spatial coordinates equipment and services for the University research community working with spatial information, the key to spatiotemporal studies of people, places, and process. U-Spatial brings together existing resources and services and strengthens research activities in four infrastructure cores: technical assistance, training, and resource coordination; analysis of aerial and satellite imagery of the earth; data archiving and development of shared computing; and spatiotemporal modeling, geodesign, and mapping

    More information found here.

    U-Spatial: Spatial Sciences and Systems Infrastructure
    PI: Francis Harvey, College of Liberal Arts
    Co-Investigators (from CFANS, CSE, IonE, CLA): Marvin Bauer, Forest Resources; Jonathan Foley, Ecology, Evolution and Behavior; Steven Manson, Geography; Steven Ruggles, MN Population Center and History; Shashi Shekhar, Computer Science and Engineering

    September 12th, 2011
  • Coffee Hour Kicks off September 9!


    We are looking forward to seeing you in the JSA room this Friday to hear about all things transport from David Levinson.

    Bring your own mugs if you can!

    Blegen 445, Coffee & Cookies 3:15 pm, Talk 3:30 pm

    "Network Structure and Travel Behaviour" - David Levinson

    [Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, University of Minnesota; Director of NEXUS (Networks, Economics, and Urban Systems Research Group)]

    September 8th, 2011
  • Geography welcomes Martin Swobodzinski!


    The Geography Department is excited to welcome Martin Swobodzinski to the Department! Martin has a two year appointment as Assistant Professor and he will be teaching GIS courses. Martin's general research interests are in geographic information science and behavioral geography. His current research investigates the factors that guide the decision making of individuals in public participation scenarios. Most importantly, his work examines the role of information and decision-support technology as a means to more meaningful participation, better decision-making outcomes, and greater satisfaction of the stakeholders involved in participatory transportation planning. In addition, he has a long standing interest in disability geographies and spatial cognition with an emphasis on computational aspects related to human orientation and navigation without sight.

    August 25th, 2011
  • Home-grown celebrities!


    Sophie Oldfield, president-elect of the Society of South African Geographers
    and Eric Sheppard, vice president of the Association of American Geographers.

    Go Minnesota!

    August 25th, 2011
  • Geography welcomes new Assistant Professor Lorena Muñoz

    me 1.jpg
    Starting in Fall 2011, Lorena Muñoz will be joining Geography as a new Assistant Professor.
    Lorena is an urban/cultural geographer whose research focuses on the intersections of place, space, gender, sexuality and race. Through qualitative frameworks she examines the production of Latina/o informal economic landscapes in trans-border spaces.

    Geography welcomes new Assistant Professor Lorena Muñoz.
    Lorena is an urban/cultural geographer whose research focuses on the intersections of place, space, gender, sexuality and race. Through qualitative frameworks she examines the production of Latina/o informal economic landscapes in trans-border spaces.
    Her current project examines how queer Latina immigrant women who work in the low wage service sector, negotiate and perform their gendered and queer identities differently across 'pseudo' heteronormative, male-dominated spaces of low-wage labor in Los Angeles. Her other research interests are focused on minority students access to STEM education. Her research is currently funded by the National Institute of Health.
    Her new office is 427 Social Science. Stop by and say hi!
    August 12th, 2011
  • Geography welcomes Assistant Professor Abigail Neely

    Starting in Fall 2011, Abigail Neely will be joining Geography as a new Assistant Professor. As an historical geographer trained in the nature-society tradition, Abby seeks to explain relationships between the material world (microbes, crops, and economies) and the way people understand that world (as mitigated through culture, knowledge, and experience).


    Her work sits at the intersection of health geography and political-ecology. Her dissertation, provisionally titled "Reconfiguring Pholela: Local People and Government Bureaucrats from the 1930s to the 1980s," examines how interactions between residents and locally-based government bureaucrats had surprising implications for a rural, Zulu-speaking area of South Africa.
    Her dissertation reveals that by paying attention to, for example, the addition of beetroot to gardens and cooking pots, the abandonment of long-standing healing rituals, and the failure of government anti-tuberculosis campaigns we can understand how local people and places shape the outcomes of large state policies. In Neely's research she uses a mix of qualitative methods like archival research, ethnography, participatory GIS, household surveys, interviews, focus groups, and oral history collection to document the evolution of local illness and ideas about health and healing through two distinct phases of government intervention, one in health in the 1940s and 1950s and one in community planning in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. She says she is absolutely thrilled to be joining the geography faculty at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities!
    August 12th, 2011
  • Eric Sheppard new Vice President of AAG


    Regents Professor Eric Sheppard was elected as the new Vice President of the AAG - Association of American Geographers. More from the AAG here.

    His term began on July 1, 2011. Audrey Kobayashi of Queen's University was elected President.

    July 20th, 2011
  • Bruce Braun promoted to Full Professor


    As announced at the May 16th Departmental meeting, Associate Professor Bruce Braun has been promoted to Full Professor. Congratulations to Bruce!

    Professor Braun recently completed an edited volume (with Sarah Whatmore) entitled Political Matter: Technoscience, Democracy and Public Life, which has been nominated for the ASA's Don K Price Award for books on Science, Technology and Environmental Politics. His current research follows several streams simultaneously. The first explores 'forms of life' constituted in and through sustainable city projects, with a focus on the 'production of subjectivity' (i.e. habits, dispositions, desires) and the political technologies devised to bring these about. A second, related, project focuses on notions of 'resilience' and ideas of nature and society found therein. Finally, a third tries to understand these shifts within their historical context.

    Please join us in congratulating Bruce!

    May 18th, 2011
  • Brown Day

    This year's Brown Day will be held on Friday, April 22, 2011.
    Our guest speaker will be John S. Adams (Professor Emeritus of Geography, University of Minnesota) who will give a talk titled "A SHORT HISTORY OF OUR GEOGRAPHY DEPARTMENT, 1925-2010: COFFEE HOURS AND TEA PARTIES"

    Join us from 3:15-5:00pm in the Carlson School of Management, Room 1-147 on the West Bank campus of the University of Minnesota. (Coffee/refreshments 3:15; talk starts at 3:30).

    Held each spring, Brown Day brings together friends and colleagues for a noon time potluck lunch, an afternoon lecture by a prominent visiting Geographer, and an evening banquet that celebrates the achievements of the past year, and recalls our history, which spans over three-quarters of a century.
    The day is named in honor of Ralph Hall Brown, eminent faculty member in our department from 1929 to 1948, and author of Mirror for Americans (1941) and Historical Geography of the United States (1948).
    The evening program includes an awards ceremony that recognizes the achievements of our undergraduate and graduate students. It also offers news from colleagues afar, entertainment and humor, and the results of our annual photo contest.
    April 21st, 2011
  • Minnesota Reception at AAG

    This year's Minnesota Reception at the AAG will be held Wednesday
    Night, April 13, from 8:30pm-11:30pm, in the Diamond Room at the
    Sheraton Seattle Hotel, 1400 Sixth Ave, Seattle.

    A few, small culinary treats, along with a "little dessert" tray will
    be available. There will also be a cash bar.

    Hope to see you there!

    April 11th, 2011
  • Scott St. George on Channel 5 News

    Geography Assistant Professor Scott St. George was recently a guest on 5 Eyewitness News (ABC). He discussed how Minnesota's Geography plays a role in flooding.

    Watch the video.

    February 28th, 2011
  • Mysteries of Public Finance

    Mysteries of Public Financing (co-produced by Judith Martin of Geography's Urban Studies program) is a 1/2 hour documentary from TPT, made in conjunction with the University Metropolitan Consortium.

    How governments raise money, how it's spent, who benefits and who pays - the basics of how public funding works and how decisions are made for the public good are explained by policy experts and former finance officials in this TPT documentary.

    View the video here.

    February 20th, 2011
  • Envisioning a different type of suburb

    Brenda Kayzar was interviewed for an article in the Fedgazette about the conclusions she and colleague Steve Manson reached in their CURA (U-CGO) funded project which examines peripheral development in the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

    Read the interview.

    February 15th, 2011
  • Leitner and Sheppard part of Faculty Exchange program

    Helga Leitner and Eric Sheppard are spending the spring semester in the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development at the University of Amsterdam, as part of a long-running faculty exchange program between the University of Minnesota and the University of Amsterdam.

    Settling in has been a bit challenging for our professors: personal contacts were vital, as the local administrators seemed puzzled by their presence. While in Amsterdam, Helga and Eric will be participating in the teaching of an undergraduate course on questions of globalization, and graduate courses in development theory, territories, identities and conflict, migration, segregation and immigration and advanced GIS. They will also be giving research talks in the Globe Lecture series, and at the Department of Sociology. They are also consulting with faculty and students as they continue ongoing research into geographical political economy, immigrant rights, citizenship, and provincializing global urbanism.
    More information available at
    February 15th, 2011
  • Geography trips up Computer Brain

    IBM's super computer might want to consider enrolling in Fraser Hart's GEOG 3101 US & Canada course next fall. During the February 15th installment of the popular television program Jeopardy, the normally impressive machine confused Toronto with Chicago - even though the Double Jeopardy category was "US Cities." Read the full story at the NY Times.

    February 10th, 2011
  • The City, the River, the Bridge

    The Institute of Advanced Study has announced the publication of The City, the River, the Bridge: Before and after the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse, edited by Patrick Nunnally, who teaches courses in our Urban Studies program.

    The City, the River, the Bridge: Before and after the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse,, published by the University of Minnesota Press, is based on the symposium of the same name organized by the IAS in October 2008. Video of that conference is available here; information on the new book is at
    February 9th, 2011
  • MNDaily's feature on Geocaching

    In search of a treasure trove in the guise of a mystery box of who-knows-what? MNDaily explores on-campus Geocaching in their story "GPS Pirates Hunt Treasure."

    February 9th, 2011
  • NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship

    PhD Student Christopher Crawford was awarded a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship for the 2010-2011 academic year.

    PhD Student Christopher Crawford was awarded a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship for the 2010-2011 academic year. Christopher's research addresses topics related to the cyrosphere, mountain snowpack climatology, and freshwater resources across interior northwestern North America using historical satellite image records. Christopher also holds funding through the Association of American Geographers (AAG), College of Liberal Arts, and the University of Minnesota for his tree-ring research on millennial length climate change across central Idaho and southwestern Montana.
    When Chris isn't hanging out here, he can be found here.
    February 9th, 2011
  • Hegel's Materialism: The Philosophy of Right and Anti-Colonial Thought

    This Friday (2/11) the Political Science department presents a short talk by Professor Timothy Brennan (University of Minnesota - Departments of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature and English), followed by a more lengthy discussion. Professor Brennan will present his paper "Hegel's Materialism: 'The Philosophy of Right' and Anti-Colonial Thought."As usual, it will be at 1:30 in 1314 Social Sciences; coffee will be served.

    February 8th, 2011
  • Geography Coffee Hour Spring 2011

    Fridays, 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., Blegen Hall 445 (cookie/coffee reception begins at 3:15pm)

    All presentations in the John S. Adams Community Room (445 Blegen Hall) unless noted otherwise.

    Fridays, 3:30 to 5:00 p.m., Blegen Hall 445 (cookie/coffee reception begins at 3:15pm)
    All presentations in the John S. Adams Community Room (445 Blegen Hall) unless noted otherwise
    1/28: Steve Manson and Brenda Kayzar, Dept of Geography, UMN
    2/4: Adam Berland titled "Changing tree cover in the urbanizing Twin Cities, 1937-2009"
    2/11: Harvey Thorleifson, Minnesota State Geological Survey
    2/18: Marvin Taylor, Dept of Geography, UMN
    2/25: Hari Osofsky, UMN Law School
    3/4: Kevin Anchukaitis, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
    3/11: John Abraham, University of Saint Thomas
    3/18: Spring Break
    3/25: TBD
    4/1: Garth Myers, Kansas State University
    4/8: Abdi Samatar, Dept of Geography, UMN
    February 3rd, 2011
  • A new member of the Geography family

    Welcome Jonas Samuel Brownell to the Geography family, who arrived on 12/29/10 at 12:01 am - 2.5 weeks early.

    7lbs 3oz
    20 inches long

    Proud Mother, Father and Sister are chronicling it all here.Thumbnail image for Baby+Brownell+084.jpg

    February 2nd, 2011

View all news

Roger Miller

  • It is with deep sadness that the department reports the death of Associate Professor Roger Miller from medical complications due to a motorcylce accident he experienced in mid-May. A "Celebration of Roger Miller's Life" will be held on Sunday, September 19, 2010 from 1:30pm to 4:00pm at the Weisman Art Museum, here on the Twin Cities Campus. Please join us.

    Roger Miller

Below are memories of Roger from various friends and colleagues. If you would like to contribute, please email Glen at



I met Roger in 1980 when he came to interview. I was a graduate student and then, like now, we were encouraged to come to know the candidates. Roger and I hit it off and we became friends. I count Roger's friendship as one of the best relationships of my life. Roger held my history as I hold a part of his. I am bereft.

I am collecting digital images of Roger so please forward any you have to me. I will look back through the Dept scrapbooks and scan those in as well. If you only have prints, please put them in my box or mail them to me and I will scan them in and return the original to you.




I first met Roger Miller, I think, in 1980. An advisee of Allen Pred at Berkeley, he interviewed at Minnesota from Boulder, where he had been teaching remote sensing as well as human geography. He always joked that we had hired him for his remote sensing experience, and indeed we made him teach this initially, but soon he settled into his niche as an urban historical geographer. His scholarship blended Pred’s approach to time geography and fascination with Sweden with Roger’s interest in the historical morphology of American cities, and shifting urban social life. While he was not a prolific publisher, his articles in Antipode and Society & Space on the impact of automated household appliances on US women’s suburban lives attracted significant attention—an early foray into the gendering of urban geography—and his paper in Cartography and Geographic Information Systems on ethics, GIS and society was a thoughtful contribution to this burgeoning field. Over the years, he also developed strong contacts with Swedish geographers (his Swedish was fluent, as he spent much time there), helping develop historical geographic databases from Sweden’s legendary parish records. He also was responsible for an early urban historical GIS, developed to visualize the morphological evolution of St. Paul.

Roger’s deepest talents were in the classroom. He was a deserved winner of the university’s distinguished undergraduate teaching award, and over the years developed a whole suite of urban classes, on urban planning (developed with Helga Leitner), cities and film, and the changing form of the city. Roger had a knack for developing courses and a classroom atmosphere that attracted students, generating considerable enrollment and visibility for the department. A few years ago he added a 1000 level global cities class to his palette, immediately attracting more students than our long-standing introduction to human geography. He was an avid and accessible graduate advisor, producing a steady stream of Ph.D. students. He also was a regular and reliable contributor to service and administration within the department, attending almost every faculty meeting, frequently chairing the admissions committee, and serving at various times as director of graduate and of undergraduate studies, and in the MGIS program. Chairs came to rely on his willingness to help out on many areas. Beyond the department, he was director of CLA’s former European Studies program, and was in the midst of a term as DGS for the Master of Liberal Studies. Aver since Phil Porter left, he and Marie generously opened their home to the department every December, enabling us to have our largest social gathering of the year—a time of food, drink and music.

Roger was a large presence in the department: Almost always around, distinctive in his colorful Hawai’i style animé shirts, full beard and rumpled hair, and (until recently) an elegant braided ponytail. Roger thought of himself (and was) a child of the anti-war sixties, with a broad smile for everyone, and a puckish sense of humor (and penchant for the inappropriate, albeit well-meaning comment) that kept the rest of us on our toes. His ability to ‘rest his eyes’ during almost any coffee hour presentation, coming to during discussion time to pose one of the more probing questions, was widely admired and envied.

Roger balanced his life between work and the rest. While we were not the closest of friends, I do know that he was an avid movie-goer, regularly sharing tips with others similarly inclined; a dog lover; a passionate recorder player, playing with baroque music groupd; loved going to the theater (letting us know of lesser-known performances that has impressed him); and jumped on his motorbike whenever the snows departed.

I will miss him, as will the department.




I met Roger almost ten years ago when I visited Minnesota for my job interview here in late winter 2001. Roger picked me up from the airport and I recall we almost immediately began talking about films and literature. It helped that we knew folks in common at Berkeley, not least Allan Pred, which gave us something else to chat over. But it was books and films that really became the focus that day, as they would repeatedly for nearly a decade. His 'reviews' were always honest, straightforward, and, it seemed to me, characteristic of that puckish sensibility, as Eric so well put it. In many succeeding conversations I would leave feeling that I needed to re-view or reread the film or book we had spoken about.

On the way to campus from the airport, Roger took a route through the Longfellow neighborhood and then onto the river road. I retrace the route frequently, since I now live in Longfellow and commute via the river road. My time-geography traces back to a felicitous, memorable encounter.




I suspect that all of us have our stories about Roger, and I wanted to add just a few of my own. Some of them overlap, others do not. On more than one occasion I found myself at Penumbra Theater, or at Theatre de la Jeune Lune, or at some other, more obscure, Twin Cities theater, on Roger's recommendation. I never once regretted going. Like others in the department, I came to rely on his reviews of films, music and theater. Like others, I marveled at his well-crafted coffee hour questions. And like others, I was astounded by his ability to do so despite "resting" his eyes. Once or twice I even tried to do the same myself. After all, Roger made it look quite easy! To my great disappointment, no brilliant questions ensued.

Others experiences were perhaps more unique. My experience in Roger's office during my interview in 1998 was nothing like Vinay's and George's. After sitting down behind his desk, Roger looked at me, paused, and said: "you don't know how to write". I was taken aback. This wasn't how a job interview was supposed to proceed! Where was the praise I so deserved? I suspect that in the years that followed I took satisfaction from the article in question being cited with some frequency. Vindication was mine. But recently I had occasion to return to it. Roger was right: it was unbearable to read. The prose was tortuous. Semi-colons proliferated. Hardly a sentence was free of jargon. Indeed, it's a miracle that it was cited at all. What I never told Roger -- and perhaps never really admitted to myself -- was that his words from that first meeting stayed with me. Language was something to use with care. As much attention needed to be given to style as to content. There was no excuse for clunky prose. I like to think that if Roger read my work today, he'd come to a different conclusion. Perhaps not yet up to his exacting standards, but improving.

Ultimately, however, I'll remember Roger for a lesson that he slowly taught me over the years -- that as important as our work may be, it was even more important to have a life. Roger was a tremendous teacher. He loved working with students and gave his time to them generously. But he also knew how to protect his non-work time the demands of the institution. His movies and his music were as important to him as his lectures. As was his motorcycle. He knew that to live life well one needed to live it fully. That to be truly happy, one had to follow one's heart. It's a lesson that takes many of us a long time to learn.

Roger enriched our lives. He will be deeply missed.



Roger was always fastidious about the use of language, and his love of the written and spoken word was testament to his capacious, literary imagination. He was able to admire erudition even when the ideas that lent themselves to it were not to his taste (I remember a brief conversation in the corridor couple of years ago after Tim Brennan's talk. Roger remarked how beautifully it was delivered, what a pleasure it was to listen to the well-crafted word, even though the arguments did not move him particularly).

When I visited Roger's office during my job interview in Spring 1999, he quizzed me for a few minutes on my research in India, then quickly came to the important issues: what sort of music did I like, and was a coffee drinker? (He was pleasantly surprised, I think, to know that I was fond of jazz and blues; and passionate about coffee.)

Roger may have been gifted in his ability to 'rest his eyes' during coffee hour, as Eric observes; but what I always envied was his ability to ask that acute, exactly formed question that I wished, alas, could have emerged from my mouth.

May Roger's muse long haunt us,




It is hard to believe that I will no longer be able to drop by Roger's office to chat about geography, the university, his music, undergraduate education, and life in general. For the past 20 years, Roger was my closest colleague in the department.  He was the witness at Susanna and my wedding in 1992, a close confidant on all matters, a research colleague in the GIS and society work, and a loyal friend at all times.  Roger, originally from Michigan City, Indiana received his BA from Oberlin College and Ph.D. from Berkeley. He taught one year at the University of Colorado before coming to Minnesota in 1980.

One of my own fondest memories of Roger was learning ARC/Info together in the early 1990s on a UNIX workstation in the then computer laboratory, now the graduate student lounge. My goal was to teach the software in advanced GIS; Roger was working on a fascinating study to digitize, map and analyze the detailed urban geography of 19th century St. Paul. Using the original Sanborn insurance maps, he digitized all structures in the city for a half-century period, and was able to illustrate the changing urban patterns at the building scale. It was one of the original and most innovative studies in historical GIS.

He was a real Renaissance scholar, interested in all aspects of geography (and many other fields) and our best critic of coffee hour. He was often a calm reasoned voice in many of our debates and discussions, and could often get us to see the big picture. Not only was he a great teacher, but was constantly reinventing his classes, creating new classes, and connecting to other parts of the university. He was a remarkable talent in the classroom and, as others have noted, one of our very finest award-winning teachers. This fall, he was to teach the 8001 geographic thought class that he had also taught twenty years earlier on a regular basis with Fred Lukermann. Some have noted that Roger could appear to be drifting off and then ask the most relevant question. I was amazed that he could be listening and grading papers at the same time. I envied this talent.

Roger was the very best departmental, college and university citizen. He would take on any role in the department from Director of Graduate Studies (twice) to the Chair of many departmental committees. Chair after chair could rely on Roger to take on any assignment and have confidence of the quality of Roger's work. Roger thought that being in the department on a regular basis, and interacting with his colleagues, was important. He served on the original Council for Liberal Education and helped transition the university curriculum to semesters. Recently, I asked Roger to serve on the Campus Writing Board and he did. Last year, when we needed an individual serve on the Council to better bridge the social sciences and humanities I asked Roger. He agreed. Given his intellectual breadth, he held adjunct appointments in several departments, including Adjunct Associate Professor, Program in American Studies, Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, and Program in Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society.

Roger's death leaves a gaping hole in the social fabric of our department and in our curriculum and teaching. The department of geography at the University of Minnesota will never quite be the same without this wonderful, thoughtful, warm, and genuine human being.




Like the rest of you, I am stunned by the sudden loss of Roger. 
I did not meet Roger until 2002, but he more than anyone quickly made me feel a part of his world and of the world of geography—in large part by actually living out geography's capacious diversity. He was an urban scholar, motorcycle enthusiast, film nerd, Scandinavophile, animé lover, connoisseur of exotic liquors and coffees, recorder player, hippie, rogue, gastronome, medical disaster area, reader, enthusiast, critic, advisor, and friend. He changed my perception of life significantly simply by living his own life of professional and intellectual satisfaction, emotional richness, and fun. 
Roger stayed with me and Colleen on the night of May 17, and the three of us went out for dinner with Lea Coon. Roger drank a pint of Lagunitas Hairy Eyeball and ate some chicken in a jerk coffee sauce that he asked be made extra hot. We stayed up late talking primarily about travels and books—he was uncertain whether it would be worth the time and effort to finish reading David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. When he left here after breakfast on the morning of the 18th, heading for Ohio, he was happy, relaxed, and healthy. 
The world is suddenly a much emptier place. All I can think to do is try to live up to the personal and professional example that Roger set every day.

Tim Mennel '07

Chicago, Ill.



No! This is just terrible news, almost impossible to digest.

Just yesterday I recommended to a student that he read "The Hoover in the
Garden", which was the piece Roger had cooking when we went to Denver. Roger
would appreciate that my student is a Polish immigrant who drives other
immigrants to their housekeeping jobs in suburban Chicago, spending hours and
hours driving from house to house, eating into discretionary and family time.
He would see that the Hoover is still in the Garden.

The Denver trip was the one where we took a short detour to northwestern
Wyoming and went horseback riding. There it turned out that among Roger's
skills was the knowledge of riding "English". What an echo of his youth, but
not that far from Baroque recorder music, his facility with Shakespeare and
Tom Stoppard, and ability to speak Middle English.

And at the same time, no contemporary work was too outre for Roger. I took it
as a high compliment from him a few years ago at my house when he said after
looking at my bookshelf (somewhat surprised) that I had good "taste" -- he had
his eye on Gilbert Sorrentino and Kathy Acker next to John Donne. So, to keep
up my schooling, he gave me Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves, certainly
one of the most discomiting books I've read in the last decade. Perfect Roger.

Sometimes his taste reach exceeded his grasp. I treasure the moment at the
Sri Lanka Curry House when Roger volunteered that no food was too hot for him.
But this manifestly was, and the fiery cauldron kept roaring up over the
cloak of nonchalance that Roger threw over it.

No one giggled harder over this than he did.

I wrote my dissertation in his office while he was on sabbatical. I had use
of his heatless, clutchless, brakeless car. I had a great dinner with him in
Pittsburgh, a doubleheader at Wrigley Field, a latte in Falcoln Heights.

And like you say Trevor, we'll always have those road trips. Amazing that
that's where he left us, on the road.

This will take a lot of getting used to.

My best to you both, and hope to catch up with you soon,




Roger Miller regularly taught an honors section of The City and Film, and students loved it. He also served as the Honors Faculty Representative for the department, and we occasionally chatted in person, by phone, or on-line. We discovered that we had one interesting other connection: both of us have sons named Jonah, and both of them were named after the wonderful film Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000. He will be much missed by all of us on campus and beyond.




I have started this email a number of times but couldn't bring myself to finish it. This is partly because I will simply echo what others have shared, but also because it hurts my heart to speak of Roger in the past tense.

I cannot overstate the significance that Roger had on my professional trajectory and thus my personal life. I happened to enroll in his Perspectives on Planning class in 2001 -just because it sounded interesting- during my first semester as a Master's student in the Humphrey Institute. It took about four class periods of Roger's spirited lectures for me to wish that I could ditch Humphrey altogether for the Geography department. Although I didn't opt out of the Hump, I became one of Roger's regular office hours groupies (yes, I was one of *those* students), and I have no doubt that his advocacy facilitated my admission into the Geog. grad program. (Now you know who to blame.) :)

Roger continued to advocate for me, not least in my "gang of three" "advising" meeting (god, am i really remembering that name correctly? Current grads, you have no idea what you missed.) And, as others have said, he was consistently welcoming, available, and just as willing to chat as he was willing to provide constructive feedback.

I feel so fortunate that I had a chance to see Roger in May, right before he left for his trip. I gave him grief for not stopping over in Lethbridge during his motorcycle trip last year and we made a plan for him to make a pitstop here during this year's trip. I was really looking forward to hearing Roger's unique perspective on the landscape that I currently call home-- I'm sure that he would notice things in minutes that I haven't noticed in the two years that I've lived here. I hoped to learn from Roger for many, many more years.

Given what I owe to Roger, nothing that I can say feels the least bit satisfying. I can only hope that I can emulate his spirit for inspired teaching and inspired living.

Tiffany Muller Myrdahl '08
Lethbridge, Alberta



I just returned from vacation in Colorado to the heartbreaking news of Roger's death. It feels so strange to be over here in St. Paul and not be among other people who knew and loved him well, so I am grateful to read others' remembrances of him. I hope that someone will compile these to share with his family, because I think they would really appreciate them. Roger made an enormous difference to me as a student in the department. He welcomed me in with open arms, bushy eyebrows, and a sense of humor that always helped me to keep perspective. He served as my advisor during my first year, even though my research ended up diverging from his area of expertise, and he always was a source of support and kind counsel throughout my time in the department. Working with him as a TA, he was always tremendously humane and really appreciative of my work. In addition, I always knew that he cared about me not only as a student or assistant, but as a human being first and foremost. I am so grateful to have had him in my life, and for all of us to have had him in our department.




I just found out about Roger. I am devastated, to say the least.

Over the past two weeks I have had Roger on my mind every day as Maria, Black, and I travel around Iceland. He was the one who told me to come here, and I can see why - it was to get to know him better.

Long drives alone in the fjords, thick wool sweaters, great espresso at every small town, Scandinavian design, and whale meat sandwiches... Roger is Iceland personified!

I already wanted to be a geographer when I met Roger in 2006, but he made me want to actually live as a geographer. I can only try to live up to his standards through good living, clear and interesting scholarship, and great teaching.

I miss him so much already... as a friend and a mentor.




The shattering news about Roger's most untimely passing blindsided us. I've been bereaved and taken by the tragedy and find myself moved by the loss still. Of the many things I remember fondly about discussions and meetings with Roger, was his love of coffee and the endearing relationship he held to his office espresso machine. It's clear commemoration and celebration events are in the works, but I would like to make a small suggestion that we dedicate one coffee hour each year to Roger's memory and invite a visitor to speak to topics in urban geography and cinematic geography.


Roger Pierce Miller

You seldom meet a fluently Swedish speaking American without any Swedish roots at all. But Roger was such a unique person.

During an annual meeting of American geographers in the early 80s Roger met a Swedish colleague, specialist on the well documented rural Swedish society of the 19th century. Roger became interested in the subject and already 1983-84 he got a grant and we could meet him as guest researcher at the Department of Human Geography, Stockholm University. In a certain sense, the language, he was extremely well prepared for this visit. However, Roger was not only interested in the Swedish language and rural societies. He took part in many other ongoing research projects regarding Swedish society, history and landscapes. He gave his ”adopted” Sweden a lot of  enthusiasm, but he also showed us his strong affection for the States in numerous lectures and in his text productions.  Like many Americans he showed us private photographs not least from his long bike trips – of the kind that this spring so sadly ended his life.

Roger Miller had ever since close contacts with the Department of Human Geography in Stockholm – but also with the Swedish university towns of Lund and Visby. During his time as guest professor 1983-84  he participated with enthusiasm not only in research, education and  excursions but also in our more private events like skating, mountain walks and festivities. His unique research on immigrants from Northern Sweden to Stockholm in the 19th century built upon archive ledgers transformed by Roger into a modern database. Parallel to that he was engaged in cooking. Some of us met sushi, of course Roger made, for the first time. His odd skills and  great enthusiasm helped one of our relatives to get her old fashioned loom put together and he also presented advanced weaving advises.

Successively the social side of the Swedish society, not least in metropolitan areas, became very much in focus for Rogers interest, especially the segregated suburban areas of Stockholm. However, he showed a continuous interest in agrarian landscapes and culture traditions. Now he focused on two Swedish “core provinces”, Gotland and Dalecarlia. Whatever he did he showed the same enthusiasm.

In 1989 Roger offered us the opportunity to make an excursion in the States. It was an extremely well planned and enthusiastically led trip.  Rogers numerous contacts on all levels, his sometimes unusual and astonishing contributions and not least his great knowledge of Americas geography and history made the journey over vast areas from West to East unforgettable.

Last time we met was in April 2009 and we were always expecting him to Stockholm soon again. We now realize that our warm and friendly contacts are broken. We all miss Roger very much.

Bertil. Kerstin, Lennart, Thomas, Torvald, Ulf

I became very sad when I realized that Roger Miller is no longer with us. I met Roger for the first time when I visited Minnesota with a group of undergraduate students from Karlstad University, Sweden in 1997. During that year, for the first time, I was able to visit my study area in Meeker county (the area where people from Östmark parish in Sweden settled down with a beginning during 1880:s). Roger took us around twin cities in a personal and friendly way. He showed us geographically interesting areas like the early settlements and later riverfront development. During the years we had many contacts by letters and we met again in 2007 when I brought a group of graduate students to Minnesota. Now again Roger showed his interest in contacts with Sweden and offered us a city excursion, he invited us to his home and we also got the possibility to visit his class when he showed a film of the riots in Paris – all in a very generous way. For this fall I had plans to go and see Roger again since the idea had come up to develop the contacts between our departments further, with a focus in international migration and identities. Now I feel this can be difficult without Roger, but most important I hope Rogers family can stand the situation.


Fred Lukermann

The Department of Geography is sad to report that  Professor Emeritus Fred E. Lukermann, a renowned member of our faculty and former dean of CLA, passed away September 1, 2009 from complications after a fall while returning home from his cabin on Lake Vermilion. A Minneapolis native, born December 9, 1921, Fred graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1940 and entered the University of Minnesota the following fall. After service in the U.S. Army, he returned to the University, earning his B.S., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees.

Fred joined the University of Minnesota's geography faculty in the early 1950s. The Geography Department steadily achieved national and international prominence, and, as chair of the department, Fred nurtured a pervasive spirit of wide-ranging and creative intellectual inquiry.

Fred assumed several leadership and administrative roles at the University of Minnesota. In addition to the chair of Geography, Fred served as associate dean for social sciences in the College of Liberal Arts; assistant vice president for academic affairs; and dean of CLA from 1978-1989. Working with CLA Dean E. W. Ziebarth and University Vice President Jerry Shepherd, Fred was instrumental in establishing the Departments of African American & African Studies, American Indian Studies, Chicano Studies, the Urban Studies Program, the School of Public Affairs (later renamed the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs), and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.

Along with his inspired teaching, generous advising of graduate students, and creative scholarly output, Fred pursued a life-long interest in the proto-geography in Classical Greece, in the development of modern geographic thought and practice within the history of science, in the historical geography of North America, and in cultural pluralism.

Memorials in Fred's honor may be sent to the Fred and Barbara Lukermann Geography Fellowship (# 6737) at the University of Minnesota Foundation, McNamara Alumni Center, 200 Oak Street, Suite 500 Minneapolis, MN 55455-2010.


Recent Award Recipients

Please join us in saluting Professor Helga Leitner for excellence in teaching as she is a recipient of the 2008-09 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education.This award recognizes the significance of excellent teaching by inducting the award recipients into the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. Academy members provide important leadership to the University community, serving as mentors, advisers, and spokespersons for the University's mission. Read More.

Join us in congratulating Professor Judith Martin recipient of the 2009 University of Minnesota President's Award for Outstanding Service. Established in 1997 to recognize faculty and staff who have provided exceptional service to the University, this award is presented each year in the spring and honors active or retired faculty or staff members who have gone well beyond their regular duties and have demonstrated an unusual commitment to the University community. Read More.

Regents Professor Eric Sheppard

Congratulations to Eric Sheppard who was recently named a Regents Professor of the University of Minnesota. The Regents Professor position was established in 1965 by the Board of Regents to recognize the national and international prominence of faculty members. It serves as the highest recognition for faculty who have made unique contributions to the quality of the University of Minnesota through exceptional accomplishments in teaching, research and scholarship or creative work, and contributions to the public good.

Eric is described by his colleagues as a "towering intellect, a universally admired educator and a highly respected leader." His contributions are recognized globally and have transformed the core understanding of the space economy, urban transformation, regional development, globalization and geographic science. He is credited with bringing the university's Department of Geography to a top-three national status. Considered to be one of the worlds leading geographers, he is the author of cutting-edge graduate and undergraduate textbooks, which have become key sources in classrooms around the world. His contributions to the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change have made him a vital part in internationalizing the university. He has helped organize numerous international conferences and has been a keynote, plenary lecturer or invited lecturer in more than 130 conferences or universities across the globe. With his students, he is considered a successful advisor and a trusted mentor.

Mei-Ling Hsu

The Department of Geography is sad to report the passing of Mei-Ling Hsu who served our department and profession with distinction for over three decades and was a role model for many young scholars pursuing work in cartography and/or China.

Dr. Hsu was a highly-respected scholar in the area of cartographic symbolization, Chinese cartography, and map projections with additional specialties in population geography and East Asian studies. One of her most significant contributions was a population map of Taiwan produced in the 1970s, and updated with new data in the 1990s. She also helped build the cartography and GIS programs in the department. Mei-Ling Hsu joined the Minnesota Geography Department in 1965, and served as chair from 1994 to 1997. She also was the first Director of the University of Minnesota’s China Center.