Research Themes

Geography is an exciting discipline because it engages theories about the world with grounded empirical research. At the University of Washington we are committed to the difficult but rewarding task of always articulating our ideas and concepts of how the world works with real world data gathering.The methods that we use and the types of data that we collect vary considerably among faculty and students. We are a heterogeneous crew with disparate interests and passions. But our commitment to grounded work, social justice, and to a persistent questioning of what exactly these things mean is a hallmark of our community.

Current faculty research questions include:

How has employment in the U.S. service sector changed over the last decade, and what is driving that change? (Beyers)

To what extent are public health policies driven by urban politics, governmentality, and attitudes toward sexuality? (Brown)

How are children are educated to be citizens of particular nation-states, or cosmopolitan “citizens of the world”?  (Mitchell)

What are the implications of China’s conversion from a labor-surplus economy to one of labor shortages? (Chan)

Is the US “demographically balkanizing” or do current immigrant settlement trends portend other more likely regional demographic futures? (Ellis)

What have been the social and political impacts of spatial technologies such as GIS on community-based planning and local urban activism? (Elwood)

How has the “feminization” of workplace technologies shaped spatial practice and social relations in the workplace? (England)

Who gets trained for what jobs, through what means, and how does this training vary across places? (Harrington)

How do definitions of public and private space, and other forms of social control, exacerbate social and economic inequalities?  (Herbert)

How has the conceptual shift in focus from concepts of “hunger” to concepts of “food security” shaped the political economy of the world food crisis? (Jarosz)

How do culture, politics and economics work together to frame people and places as ‘poor’, and how do those definitions  of “poverty” reproduce poverty through processes of exclusion, exception and arguments for the remaking of people and places? (Lawson)

In what ways can community-based change, particularly in Africa, promote public health and help counter social inequality and environmental degradation? (Mayer)

How do geospatial decision support tools (Geographic Information Systems, local area networks and broadband networks) help public discourse and environmental decision-making on such issues as regional water resource planning, transportation improvement, hazardous waste cleanup and addressing regional climate change?  (Nyerges)

How do different practices, structures and philosophies of governance configure the ‘global’ in global health? How do they map the terrain of the ‘global’? What do they prioritize as ‘global’ problems and ‘global’ solutions? (Sparke)

What are the links between housing costs, family migration, and women’s labor force participation, and how do these links affect current debates about regional white flight, theories of intrahousehold decision making, and the connection between housing affordability and immigrant internal migration? (Withers)

What roles have non-governmental organizations played within Russia and the NIS in affecting social policy, especially in post-Soviet social and economic transformation processes, the use of information technology for both governmental and NGO resource management institutional capacity building, and the development of environmental information networks in Russia? (ZumBrunnen)