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)

How are conservation science and policy being reshaped by new insights from genomics, molecular genetics, and biotechnology? (Biermann)

How is the management and governance of nature related, in both language and practice, to the governance of human populations? (Biermann)

What are the urban political geographies of sexuality in Seattle? (Brown)

What makes China tick as the “world’s factory”? Can China continue to be the world’s factory? (Chan)

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

When, where, and why do engaged encounters between middle classes and poorer groups lead to new alliances and poverty politics of inclusion, as opposed to boundary making and poverty politics of exclusion? (Elwood)

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

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 have interactions with public health and liquor control bureaucracies shaped the geographies of Seattle’s LGBTQ communities? (Brown & Knopp)

How have historical geographies of farmer radicalism shaped the contemporary political cultures of rural and non-metropolitan places? What is the role of cultural politics in the these processes? (Knopp)

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)

How does communicable disease spread from place to place, and what are the underlying reasons for this? (Mayer)

How may we explain the occurrence of disease at all scales, based on social, biological, and environmental influences, broadly taken? (Mayer)

What are the factors underlying the appearance of new and emerging infectious disease? Numerous national and international reports have concluded that these are mostly social.(Mayer)

What are the effects of global environmental change, including climate change, on human health? (Mayer)

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

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)