Clark University’s Graduate School of Geography will proudly celebrate its 100-year legacy as a transformational force in geography with a special centennial event to be held April 13–15 on the Clark campus.
The celebration will kick off on April 13 with the Atwood Lecture, presented by Kendra McSweeney, professor and distinguished scholar of geography at The Ohio State University. McSweeney, whose research is centered on human-environment interactions and cultural and political ecology, has made influential analytical contributions to understanding the socio-ecological dynamics and impacts of drug trafficking through Central America.
The centennial event will feature multiple sessions on April 14 and 15 that are open to the campus community and public, including panels and talks that will examine the significance and leadership of the Graduate School of Geography in society and in the discipline, take stock of where the GSG is today, and look toward its future and its role in addressing many of the most urgent issues facing the world.
Learn more about the April centennial celebration, including session topics, social events, and how to register for the luncheon, dinner, and receptions.
Panelists will discuss the study of Black geographies, an area pioneered by Clark alum Bobby Wilson, Ph.D. ’74. They will examine the GSG’s long and influential history in understanding human-environment interactions, including field-defining contributions to the analysis of environmental risks and hazards, human transformations of the Earth, and the connections between development and the environment central to the field now known as political ecology. Other panels will delve into the GSG’s signal contributions, leadership, and ongoing work in the areas of feminist geography, urban geography, and GIScience and earth systems science, particularly in an era of accelerating climate change. Another panel will examine the contributions of GSG faculty, students, and alumni to public policy. The schedule will also include ample opportunities for informal discussions among alumni, former and current faculty and students, and other friends of the GSG.
A tribute to the late Roger Kasperson, longtime professor and researcher with the Graduate School of Geography and the George Perkins Marsh Institute, will be held on April 15 as part of the centennial program.
James McCarthy, director of the Graduate School of Geography, noted that the GSG’s 100th birthday took place in 2021, but the celebration was delayed because of COVID. “We look forward to welcoming alumni, trustees, former faculty, and other friends of the department back to campus this spring,” he said.
“The issues at the heart of geography — helping to create understandings of how we can live together, sustainably and justly, on a dynamic, heterogenous planet — have never been more relevant and urgent than they are right now,” McCarthy said. “Many of us were drawn to the field precisely because geography allows us to work from and through questions about real, specific places in ways that recognize all of their complexities and interconnections. Doing so requires us to integrate perspectives and approaches from multiple fields of knowledge, which generates far richer understandings: Within steps of my office, I have experts in carbon cycling, economic geographies of innovation, polar science, Black and indigenous geographies, GIScience and remote sensing, urban geographies, landscape ecology, development studies, and so much more.
“That richness is what distinguishes geography as the original integrative and holistic discipline. The Graduate School of Geography at Clark is and has been a globally significant exemplar and leader in that tremendously generative approach. It is what has drawn so many incredibly impressive faculty and extraordinary doctoral students from around the world to the department over time, and it is why I am proud to be a faculty member in the GSG.”
The Graduate School of Geography was launched in 1921 by President Wallace Atwood and quickly became a leader in a wide range of geographic scholarship. The school draws students from all over the world and trains them to do important and innovative research across the globe. Among its many achievements, the GSG has been one of the top Ph.D.-granting geography departments in the United States for the past 100 years, is consistently ranked among the top 10 geography graduate programs by the National Research Council, and has had numerous faculty members inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.