Thinking about transferring to the UW? If you are, Transfer Thursday is your gateway to transfer information. At a Transfer Thursday session, you can speak to an admissions counselor who will tell you all about applying to the UW. You can also meet with an undergraduate academic advisor who will help you prepare for your intended UW major. Bring your questions and your unofficial transcript(s). It’s one-stop shopping for the prospective transfer student.
University of Washington
171 Mary Gates Hall
1:00 to 4:00.
begins at 2:30!
For more information:
(206) 543-2550 or click here
Don’t forget the 2004 UW/CC Advising Conference!
If you are a community college academic advisor and you want learn more about what’s happening at the UW, think about attending the UW/CC Advising conference. If you are planning to attend, don’t forget to register here. Registering lets us know how many folks are actually coming out for the day!
UW/CC Advising Conference 2004
Contributors to this Issue:
The Transfer eNewsletter is a project of the UW Undergraduate Advising Gateway Center.
Undergraduate Gateway Center
171 Mary Gates Hall
Weekdays 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
By Clay Schwenn, Academic Counselor, Gateway Center
and Bethann Pflugeisen, Graduate Student Advisor, UW-Seattle
“[O]ur students do well getting jobs because they have such strong analytical skills, technical skills and written and verbal communication skills…Geography seems to be the department where people’s skills, interests and sense of purpose come together to launch them into the next phase of their lives.”
--Rick Roth, Geography Department Undergraduate Counselor
Geography Department Quick Facts:
Many people have studied maps and memorized state capitols, but did you know there is a geography of people as well as a geography of physical characteristics like rivers and mountains? The Geography Department offers a lot of different approaches to the study of geography; economic, environmental, medical, cultural, political, and urban geography are all represented in the department. This quarter, we sat down with Rick Roth, the academic counselor for the Geography department, to find out what makes Geography such a fantastic UW department.
What kinds of questions are asked in Geography Department courses?
What are the main diseases around the world and where are they most commonly found? How much do people earn, and how are those incomes related to people's racial and ethnic makeup and where they live? Why is there more prosperity in some parts of the world and more hunger and despair in other parts of the world? How does world trade affect your daily life? How does Starbuck's decide where to put their next coffee shop? Who gets into the US and why? How can you draw a map, using "true" information, to convince people of YOUR point of view? Do world maps made by Americans look the same as those made by Australians?
Tell us about some exciting projects in the Geography department.
One of the first projects to come to mind is the PGIST project, directed by Tim Nyerges. Tim and his colleagues are looking at how Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and internet technologies can improve public participation in transportation decision making. They are working with some of the regional transit authorities and various public stakeholders to develop and evaluate on-line tools for expanding public participation in transportation improvements. Students could find information about this project at: http://depts.washington.edu/pgist/ Additional exciting projects in the department right now include a multi-site study looking at rural attitudes towards urban centers, attitudes towards hunger in rural versus urban areas, and cultural differences between the east and west sides of Washington State. Several of our students are working with Community Transit to examine commuting patterns, and working on Park-and-Ride and ridership censuses.
I’m reading “Fast Food Nation” right now. How does this book relate to geography?
Graduates of our program enter the workplace in many fields related to “Fast Food Nation”: real estate; economic geography; corporate development; GIS (which is used to map demographic patterns, provide region-wide data analysis, and help corporations figure out where the “holes” are in their market coverage); growth management, the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation analysis, and helping food banks maximize their services.
Describe a unique opportunity for undergraduates in the Geography department.
Every year in June we have an Undergraduate Research Symposium, which isn’t necessarily unique, but about 2/3rds of our students present at this event which is fairly unique. Some of the research project titles at last year’s symposium included: GIS and the Blue Angels GIS and Outreach for Thornton Creek An Analysis of Error in the Development of Duwamish River Shoreline Classifications UWARNS System (in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency) Bank of America ATM Locations (which led to a job with BofA) Youth Community Mapping through the Eyes of Garfield High Students Data Quality Report for US Geological Survey Map of Mars These students are getting the opportunity to build specific, career-related skills by working with such employers as Seafair, Puget Sound Regional Council, Seattle Public Schools and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
What types of careers can students with a degree in this field pursue?
Public sector transportation planners ( Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is always hiring our people) Airline route specialists Import / export and shipping logistics planners Geodemographic marketers Urban and regional planners Strategic planners in banking, insurance, real estate Software developers Resource specialists / environmental-impact statement writers Computer cartographers using Geographic Information Systems International trade and tourism consultants.
Could you describe your faculty for us?
They are passionate believers in the power of geography to explain patterns and processes. They strongly believe in the power of place, the importance of context and of geographic scale. They think about global versus local; it’s a powerful way of looking at the world. We see it every day in the headlines, talking about why there are rich and poor neighborhoods, or healthy and unhealthy places to live. It really is a way of thinking that is unique to the discipline. Our faculty spend a lot of time trying to understand what maps represent, analyzing the lies that are told with maps, emphasizing what a person is trying to say with a map. They really produce some beautiful products when using GIS to analyze a particular issue. They value learning communities, and developed a new class, Geography 397, to make the learning community more tangible for our majors. Students break into groups based on interests or problems they’d like to solve. They do a web site that begins to talk about themes, key courses, resources and information sources, and agencies. They really begin networking in this class and develop an “invisible family” that provides a sense of identity within the major. It helps them start to figure out who the players are, with the hope that they will take full advantage of those contacts over the course of their undergraduate career. The course was designed to provide students with the practical skills needed to succeed in the major, as well as introduce them to a community of peers interested in similar substantive issues. Faculty wanted to address the student concerns about the vastness, impersonality and decentralization of the UW by encouraging intellectual interaction between teachers, students, and the community at large. This rises from their belief that students will learn much, if not more, from their interactions with fellow students and graduate students and others in the community as they will from their professors. The course website is http://faculty.washington.edu/swithers/geog397/. Additionally, they’ve just developed a course on quantitative methods that goes beyond statistics. They really want students to learn the genre—walk the walk and talk the talk. Ultimately, students end up doing research before they know it.
Are there specific things a transfer student can do to prepare for your major?
Well, take Geography classes. There isn’t always a lot at the community college but if you take what they can, that’s a good start. You should begin to develop a sense of a theme . . . an issue or a problem they are interested in. It makes it easier if a student can come in and say, “I’m interested in . . .” rather than “I’ve heard there are jobs in . . .”. In the advising situation, it’s hard to start from zero, so if you even have a little momentum, an “open sesame word”, it can help us develop a plan. Just pick a current event, and we can probably figure out a direction within geography. There’s really no technical knowledge necessary. In GIS, you might want to take a programming language, but even that’s not absolute. We should add that the Geography department at the University of Washington does not place an emphasis on physical geography. Even the GIS here is rooted in the social sciences, really using the technical aspects to hit issues. If you are interested in land forms, weather, and hazards, perhaps you should look at Earth and Space Sciences (a.k.a. Geology), Atmospheric Sciences, or Oceanography as a potential major.
Many times students find Geography after being denied from a competitive major. When they get here, they discover how wonderful it is. Do you have any theories on that?
Very few students are aware of Geography because it is not taught in the high school. We are an open major because we can accommodate all students who apply. It’s probably open because people do discover it late. Even though it’s a liberal art degree, our students do well getting jobs because they have such strong analytical skills, technical skills, and written and verbal communication skills. People seem to open up and thrive here. They begin networking, developing their identity, and building their confidence. Geography seems to be the department where people’s skills, interests and sense of purpose come together to launch them into the next phase of their life. The culminating course really seems to help with that process. Students build an electronic portfolio, a learning portfolio, and an employment portfolio emphasizing their job-related skills. They put together a resume. By showcasing some of their projects and articulating their accomplishments, they are really well prepared to walk out of UW and land in a great career.
Any famous graduates?
We had a couple NFL first-round draft picks, but that has been a while.