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FROM THE DEPARTMENT CHAIR

SUMMER 2020

I would like to begin by acknowledging, on behalf of the department, our continued thanks for working and teaching on the unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) & kwikwəƛ̓ əm (Kwikwetlem) nations.

Well, what a year! In the past year we have been joined by new faculty Jesse Hahm (hydrology) and Magie Ramírez (urban social change) and we are to soon welcome Bing Lu (remote sensing) and May Farrales (urban social change). Ivor Winton (Senior Lecturer) retired after 30 years of motivational teaching and service—we raise a glass to you, Ivor.

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CONNECT WITH US

In the 2019-20 academic year the Department of Geography ran a number of signature events. The Communications & Events Committee worked diligently to prepare an engaging calendar of events that allowed for alumni participation in various ways.

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FROM THE DEAN’S OFFICE

In my first eight months as dean of the Faculty of Environment, I am inspired by the drive, determination and passion of our faculty, students, and staff. I am drawn to the way geography helps us understand changes to the earth on deep time scales and the way it informs and shapes our health, wealth, access, opportunities, livelihoods and lived experiences.

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NEW FACULTY SPOTLIGHT

Drive around in the mountains most anywhere in western North America and you’re certain to encounter road cuts: dynamited faces where the highway department has sliced open a hillslope, exposing soil, bedrock, and—if you slow down and look closely (with someone else at the wheel of course)—networks of roots that wind their way along fractures in the rock.

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FORGING NEW PATHS: HOW ART SHIFTS PUBLIC CONSCIOUSNESS

“Geography is commonly misunderstood,” says Margaret Marietta Ramírez, SFU’s latest human geographer. “It is provocative. It pushes boundaries, and it offers a multitude of ways to understand social problems. Geography offers a deep historical and spatial understanding of where we are and how we got here.

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REFLECTIONS OF A PERIPATETIC ACADEMIC

Most academics begin their careers with one set of creative ideas and conclude with an entirely different set. Most often this is evolutionary but occasionally it is revolutionary just as disciplines themselves transition into new fields of enquiry.

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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

My post-graduation story started before I graduated from the Ph.D. program. Guided by my supervisor, Dr. Dragicevic, I began applying for faculty positions around the world. This was a busy time as a graduate student, between completing my dissertation, publishing, and teaching.

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GRADUATE STUDIES UPDATE

This year our department will undergo an external review and so the timing is right to reflect on what our grads and our program have achieved in the past seven years. Since 2013, our graduate program has remained relatively stable in size at an average of 51 students per year, where 54% of those were PhD students.

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UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES UPDATE

Our undergraduate programs include over 450 majors and 45 minors (8th of 41 Canadian Universities in terms of number of majors). Undergraduate student enrollments are one of the largest in Canada with total enrollments of 3870 and 69 courses offered.

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UPDATE FROM THE GRADUATE GEOGRAPHY ASSOCIATION

The Geography Graduate Association has had an exciting year since our last update, from our annual retreat to Whistler to traveling the world to present our research. While we have sadly said goodbye to one cohort of graduates, we have been fortunate to welcome many new members from all corners of the globe to join us in our graduate school adventure.

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UPDATE FROM THE UNDERGRADUATE GEOGRAPHY STUDENT UNION

The GSU has had an exciting and eventful 2019/2020 year. We kicked it off by participating in the 2020 FROSH “Amazing Race” event, which got a few kids inspired to join the GSU as first-year executives. We also revamped the common room in RCB; cleaned out the filing cabinet, closets, bookshelf, and added plants, lights, and mirrors.

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ALUMNI DONATIONS IN ACTION – PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY FIELD SCHOOL

This year’s field school was setup to take off from last year’s students who laid the groundwork for aerial mapping of their field site with tethered balloons. We learned a lot through our experience last year and this year we planned to add a new layer of data collection to the process.

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GRADUATE FIELDWORK DIARIES

Professor Jeremy Venditti and PhD candidate Max Hurson from the River Dynamics Lab survey Black Canyon of the Fraser River in January, 2019, when low flows revealed the canyon's walls.


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