Dear fellow geographers,

Welcome back from the summer.  We look forward to an exciting year ahead!  Some highlights of our new programs and relationships include the launch of a new professional Master’s program in GIS, a new director of the Law, Societies, and Justice program, a new head of the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, and a brilliant new cohort of graduate students arriving and ready to set the world on fire.

Over the past year we saw Vicky Lawson win a new set of laurels by becoming the University’s Distinguished Graduate Mentor for 2010.  This honor follows multiple other teaching awards, including the award for best undergraduate teaching in 1996.

The department also feted Bill Beyers, who became professor emeritus in June.  Old friends and students stretching back nearly forty years showed up to party with Bill on the top of Smith Tower in downtown Seattle.  The weather was perfect, with views out and beyond West Seattle and the islands of Puget Sound.

Other moments of interest over the past year included the start of Sarah Elwood’s and my three-year research project on children’s mapping and neighborhood awareness, and its potential links with greater civic engagement.  We worked alongside grad students Tricia Ruiz and Ryan Burns, teaching middle-school students new geovisualization strategies as they remembered and mapped their own ‘youth journeys’ throughout the day.

Steve Herbert also embarked on a new project investigating the relationship between territory, the law, and the rights of endangered animals, particularly whales.  He made many of his colleagues extremely envious as he headed off to the San Juan Islands for several long weekends over the summer!

Mark Ellis initiated a new NSF project on the locational choices of US immigrants during different economic periods, from boom to bust.  Lucy Jarosz began a new thread of research in Canada on comparative agricultural systems, and many other faculty have continued research in all corners of the globe.

I will be highlighting both the teaching and research efforts of our faculty in my blog, so stay tuned for further information as the quarter proceeds.  Our new interactive website was made possible by the extremely hard work and great web savvy of our PhD student, Joe Eckert, this summer.  Thanks to Joe for doing such a great job.

All the best to everyone for the 2010-2011 school year!