Congratulations to Geography faculty member Sarah Elwood, winner of this year’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the highest award the UW offers for oustanding teaching. Sarah joined our faculty in 2006, after teaching at DePaul University and the University of Arizona. In her own words,
My research intersects critical GIS, and urban and political geography. I study the social and political impacts of spatial technologies such as GIS, and the changing practices and politics of local activism, community organizing, and other modes of civic engagement. My current research focuses on emerging geospatial media – an ever-expanding range of interactive web-based technologies that enabling collection, compilation, mapping, and dissemination of spatial data by vast numbers of people. With colleagues at UC-Santa Barbara and Ohio State University, I am currently studying these new forms of ‘volunteered geographic information’, examining their content and characteristics, methodologies for working with these data, and the social and political practices in which they are implicated. In a parallel project, Katharyne Mitchell and I are examining the role that interactive geovisualization technologies might play in fostering collaborative learning, critical thinking and civic engagement among young teens. My research and teaching having long been structured around action research and university-community collaboration
Student characterizations of the effects of Sarah’s teaching always seem to run to superlatives, emphasizing her commitment to student learning & engagement, and her inclusive, interactive classroom teaching style:
- Prof. Elwood takes the time on a daily basis to mentor students. She has a unique approachability which allows her to gracefully adapt and personalize each lecture for the students in the class. Prof. Elwood’s discussion based lecture format is a cut above any other teaching style I have encountered at UW, making her a truly effective teacher
- Sarah Elwood is time and time again a caring teacher who works with her students to help them understand even the seemingly simplest things and inspires her students to use their skills to better their communities.
- Sarah seems to actually enjoy teaching. She’s enthusiastic, incredibly understanding, and very easy to work with. She goes out of her way to be available to students, and creates an environment in which students feel encouraged to ask questions and learn.
- Professor Elwood pushed our class to collaborate on and create much of the subject matter in class. She guided our discussions with thoughtful comments and insight, allowing for us to do our own learning. Fantastic energy, fantastic class, fantastic teacher
- Professor Elwood encouraged my learning through her genuine enthusiasm and passion not just for the field of geography but for my own personal achievement and grasp of the curriculum. She makes classes enjoyable and engaging and encourages open and thoughtful discussion where anyone can contribute. She is accessible as a professor and as a person and I have thoroughly enjoyed every class I have taken with her. In all of my work she has added her input when asked and really encourages me to go above and beyond.
- Professor Elwood is really a great teacher who cares about her students, whether we have learned anything from the course or not. She is always energetic, ready to teach, cheerful and helpful. I love having her as my professor and she makes me enjoy learning GIS.
- Dr. Elwood’s approach to my G490 is unlike any I have had at the UW. Much of the content is student directed, which I enjoy, and it ties a creativity aspect to putting ideas together
- Of all of the professors I have had both within and outside of the Geography Department at UW, Sarah Elwood has stood out as an incredibly supportive and nurturing professor. Her approach to students in the classroom and one-on-one surpasses the energy and sincere responsiveness of many other professors I have had at UW, and she truly lives up to all that it means to be a university professor. In my experience, she has been a mentor, advisor, director, research boss, friend, and cohort member. Having her as a professor has made my time and experience in university and in the Geography department invaluable. For me, she is a real icon of the department
- Professor Sarah Elwood is absolutely passionate about what she teaches. I’ve so far taken two GIS classes with her and definitely learned a lot from her. Her lectures are lively and she explains things well. People can ask her questions and share a lot of their experiences in class, as well, so it’s a nice atmosphere. Tests and assignments are always fair and we are tested only on what we’ve discussed in class/lecture. One can easily see Elwood’s passion and great knowledge of GIS. It encourages me to learn even more about the software and the social and technical aspects of it. Additionally, she cares a lot about her students learning. Overall, Sarah Elwood is awesome.
- Professor Elwood’s explanations and style of teaching is very clean, straightforward, and easy to understand. Simultaneously though, she is a joy to listen to. For me, the combination of these two things plus the fact that I was very interested in the content of the classes was hugely encouraging to my learning.
- Sarah Elwood is one of the most positive and energetic professors that I have had at the UW. The community that she creates in her classroom reflects these qualities. Regardless of how tired or stressed I might be when I arrive to class, I consistently leave energized and excited about what I’ve learned!
- Dr. Elwood offered practical advice I have taken to heart: “In the field of GIS, you have to be ready to constantly learn new tech.”
Professor Elwood is the fifth Geography faculty member to receive this award, joining David Hodge, Vicky Lawson, Matt Sparke and Steve Herbert.
Click here for an extended Q & A with Professor Elwood on her views of teaching and learning.
Holly Candage, a senior double majoring in Geography and Comparative History of Ideas (CHID), has been awarded the Bonderman Travel Fellowship. This fellowship enables UW graduate students and undergrads in the honors program to engage in independent exploration and travel abroad. The Fellowship is intended to introduce students to new cultures, peoples, and areas of the world.
Holly is interested in how spirituality overlaps in people’s everyday lives and how this manifests itself in arts, politics, religious practices, agricultural practices, or in the way people cook and eat together, communicate and commune with each other, and relate to or experience the environment and other species. With the Bonderman Fellowship, Holly will be spending ten months traveling in: Mexico, Central America, Spain, Morocco, Sicily, Lebanon, Greece, the Balkans, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and ending my travels in India, where I will travel by train from the South to the North.
Details about the fellowship are below. Congratulations Holly!
The Bonderman Travel Fellowship offers University of Washington graduate students (including those in the Law and Business Schools and other graduate and professional programs) and undergraduate students in the University Honors Program (Interdisciplinary, Departmental or College Honors) and in UW Tacoma’s Global Honors Program an opportunity to engage in independent exploration and travel abroad.
Bonderman Fellowships enable students to undertake independent international travel to explore, be open to the unexpected, and come to know the world in new ways. Because Bonderman Fellowships are intended to foster independence, Fellows may not participate in a program or organization, engage in formal study at a foreign university, conduct research or other academic projects, or travel with an organized group while carrying out the obligations of the fellowship. Bonderman Fellowships are intended to introduce students to cultures, peoples, and areas of the world with which they are not familiar. Preference will be given to candidates without extensive international travel experience.
The Bonderman Travel Fellowship program was created in 1995 through a gift from David Bonderman, who earned his undergraduate degree in Russian from the University of Washington in 1963. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he received a Sheldon Fellowship that allowed him to travel internationally, an experience that had a profound impact on his life. Now a successful investment adviser, Mr. Bonderman provides opportunities to current UW students for similarly transformative travel experiences through this fellowship program.
Geography undergrad Sam Nowak was selected to participate in the highly selective Georgia State University Community-Soil-Air-Water Research Experience for Undergraduates, funded by the National Science Foundation. This is a unique research training experience, focusing on community geography, university-community partnerships and participatory methodologies. This research project examines community housing, urban green spaces, and urban environmental quality. More details about the research project can be found below. Congratulations Sam!
Participation in the 2012 Georgia State University CSAW Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program funded by the National Science Foundation
The Georgia State University Community-Soil-Air-Water (CSAW) Research Initiative is proud to host the Summer 2012 Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site funded by The National Science Foundation Award #1156755, the Georgia State University Honors College, and the University of West Georgia. The REU Site: Addressing Social and Environmental Disparities through Community Geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is a multi-disciplinary program that brings together 16 outstanding undergraduate students from around the country to Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA) for a 6 week intensive research program. With an explicit focus on community geography, university-community partnerships and participatory methodologies, the research training program is the first of its kind for undergraduates in the United States. Undergraduate researchers, working in one of three research tracks <http://csaw.gsu.edu/nsf-reu/research-tracks/> , will quantitatively and qualitatively examine neighborhood change, property markets, air and soil quality, urban green spaces, and neighborhood visioning in partnership with neighborhood residents and community groups.
REU Research Track 1: Mapping property dynamics in South Atlanta with Charis Community Housing. Leaders: Katherine Hankins, Timothy Hawthorne, Kate Derickson, GSU geography; Andy Walter, University of West Georgia (archival work in consultation with Joe Hurley, GSU library sciences)
REU Research Track 2: Mapping green spaces in the Lakewood neighborhood with Trees Atlanta. Leaders: Leslie Edwards and Timothy Hawthorne, GSU geography (archival work in consultation with Joe Hurley, GSU library sciences)
REU Research Track 3: Mapping urban environmental quality in the neighborhoods of Mechanicsville, Pittsburgh, Summerhill, Adair Park, and Peoplestown with SAFE (South Atlanta for the Environment). Leaders: Dan Deocampo, GSU geology; John Steward, GSU Institute of Public Health; and Katherine Hankins, GSU geography
Student Selection & Compensation: Selection for the 2012 CSAW REU site was based on a competitive, nationwide search of 204 highly-qualified undergraduate students. The selected CSAW Community Scholars share the following traits: a deep interest in engaged, community-based research; an inquisitive and creative mindset; and a desire to contribute to new directions in community geography scholarship. As part of participation in the program, each CSAW Community Scholar receives a competitive funding package, including: a $3000 stipend for participation in the six week program, up to $250 in travel support to/from Atlanta, up to $750 for conference presentations at a major national meeting, free room and board at Georgia State University, and 3 required texts.
Congratulations to our students for some stellar academic achievements:
Helen Olsen, Mary Gates Research Scholar, for her project ”Examining Zones of Encounter and Sites of Governance: The Middle Class Poverty Projection”. Helen also received a Mary Gates Leadership Scholarship for her project, “Caring Across Distance: Working with the Critical Development Forum.”
Mollie Holmberg, Mary Gates Research Scholar, for her project on on the human ecosystem, embodied food production between world regions, and global patterns of poverty and health.
Zakery Lee, College of Arts & Sciences Research Award. Zak’s project, ”Spatial Characteristics of Policies Impacting Emergency Food: Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC,” examines national and local policies that address poverty and food justice in urban areas by comparing the nature and extent the emergency food systems in Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC employing a mixed methods approach.
Jessica Wallach, College of Arts and Sciences Research Award. Jess’ research project “Women’s Work”: Shifting Gender Dynamics in Food Sovereignty Initiatives, will be an institutional ethnography that examines the role of women’s organizations and cooperatives in redefining food sovereignty in rural areas of Uttarakhand, India.
Sherwin Lee, elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most respected undergraduate honors organization in the United States.