The Clark University Graduate School of Geography is gearing up for a memorable celebration that will honor its 100-year legacy as a transformational force in the world of geography.
The centennial event, to be held April 13–15, features a robust series of discussions 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 anticipate its future role in addressing many of the most urgent issues facing the world.
“I have been tremendously heartened by the response to the conference,” said James McCarthy, chair of the Graduate School of Geography. “Alumni have been saying really kind and generous things about how much Clark Geography meant to them, and how instrumental and foundational it was for their careers.”
McCarthy said he’s looking forward to reconnecting with retired faculty, many of them prominent in their field, and former Clark doctoral students.
“Many of us have had the opportunity to work with tremendous Ph.D. students who are among the best in their discipline. It’s one of the big draws of being a faculty member in the School of Geography,” he said. “A number of our former students will be back on campus, and some will be serving on panels. It’s always nice to hear what they’re doing now and how it connects with what they studied at Clark.”
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 that are 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.
“It was fun for us to pull these panels together, but also challenging when, in some cases, you’re trying to cover 100 years of work in a specific area,” McCarthy said. “I’m happy with what we came up with, and I think these will all be rich, interesting discussions — but at an event like this, there will also be plenty of time for informal discussions as well as static and dynamic media presentations. We’ll certainly cover as many bases as we can.”
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.
Clark President David B. Fithian ’87 and Provost Sebastián Royo will deliver remarks at the April 14 dinner. Clark Trustee and Dartmouth College geography professor Mona Domosh ’79, M.A. ’83, Ph.D. ’85 — a former president of the American Association of Geographers — will give the keynote address at the April 15 luncheon.
April 15 will feature a tribute to the influential legacy of the late Roger Kasperson ’59, longtime professor and researcher with the Graduate School of Geography and the George Perkins Marsh Institute.
“Roger’s work has fed directly and powerfully into contemporary conversations related to climate change — in areas like adaptation, risk and hazards, sustainability, and resilience,” McCarthy said. “His research continues to be incredibly relevant and applicable as we try to work through the problems related to climate change. He was very much a major figure in this field.”
The Graduate School of Geography turned 100 in 2021, but the pandemic forced the postponement of an official event to mark the occasion. Among the many achievements the GSG will finally have the opportunity to celebrate next month: it 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.
The centennial celebration’s luncheon, dinner, and receptions are limited to GSG undergraduate and graduate alumni, faculty, staff, and invited guests, and require an RSVP by March 31, 2023.