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Department head visits Argentina for collaboration on transportation issues

Geography and Geology Department Head Dr. David Keeling returned this past Monday from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he consulted with Argentine government officials on transportation development issues.

davidkeelingThe country is experiencing a slow recovery from near bankruptcy in 2002 and has developed ambitious plans to rebuild its national transportation infrastructure. Keeling’s recent research on Latin America’s transport challenges, published last fall in the Journal of Latin American Geography, has been critical of government failures to develop meaningful plans to address accessibility and mobility challenges in the region.

Dr Juan Alberto Roccatagliata, who has been collaborating with Dr. Keeling on development issues in Argentina for 20 years, is director of National Railroad Development for Argentina’s Ministry of Transportation and has proposed an ambitious series of projects to rehabilitate the region’s railroad network, including the hemisphere’s first high-speed rail link (see news story here). The two researchers plan to collaborate on a series of articles designed to focus attention on Argentina’s and the wider region’s transportation problems.

During the previous week, Dr. Keeling attended the International Partnership Institute workshop at Portland State University in Oregon to learn more about developing programs that can link students and faculty with community projects.

“Tremendous opportunities exist within the structure of the department’s geoscience programs to engage students with community issues and challenges,” noted Dr. Keeling. “Program majors are already engaged in sustainability, water resources, transport planning, climate change, environmental geology, and a host of other important projects in the wider community through applied research, internships, and practica experiences.”

With so many hours spent on airplanes recently, Dr. Keeling also wrote two OpEd pieces for the American Geographical Society’s Writers Circle. The first has just been published in a number of regional newspapers, including the Honolulu Hawaii Reporter, and is titled “Rethinking Alliances in a Changing World.” It addresses the potential expansion of NATO in the Baltic region and the conflict that likely will emerge with Russia over this decision. The second OpEd is titled “America’s Afghan Dilemma” and argues that current U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is unsustainable and will not bring about peace or democracy in the country, in part because of a failure to understand the region’s geography. The AGS is America’s oldest geographical organization. Its mission is to link business, professional and scholarly worlds in the creation and application of geographical knowledge and techniques to address economic, social and environmental programs. By distributing op-ed essays, Dr. Keeling and the AGS hope to encourage greater public discussion of geographical issues critical to society.

Contact: David Keeling (david.keeling@wku.edu) at (270) 745-4555.

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