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Keeling completes Great Lakes tour

Geography and Geology Department Head Dr. David Keeling returned this past Saturday from Toronto, Canada, after completing a one-week transect of the Great Lakes, sponsored by the American Geographical Society.

David Keeling visited the Quincy Copper Mine in Houghton, Mich., during an educational tour of the Great Lakes region.

David Keeling visited the Quincy Copper Mine in Houghton, Mich., during an educational tour of the Great Lakes region.

The educational tour began in Duluth, Minn., at the western edge of Lake Superior before crossing to the Keweenaw Peninsula for a visit to the copper mining communities of Houghton and Calumet. After visiting historic Fort Smith in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the educational cruise continued to Sault Saint Marie to transit the locks that link Lake Superior to Lake Huron. The group visited Mackinaw Island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before continuing on to Little Current on Manitoulin Island, home to the First Nation Ojibwa people. After sailing through the St. Clair and Detroit rivers connecting Lake Huron to Lake Erie, the tour visited Niagara Falls and the wine-growing region of Niagara-on-the-Lake before concluding in Toronto.

During the expedition program, Dr. Keeling gave lectures on several aspects of the Great Lakes’ geography and ecology, including climate change, geology, natural resource management, and contemporary economic changes. Sustainable development issues were also a hot topic for discussion for the 62 passengers during the seven-day program, especially in Lake Erie where industrial pollution presents significant challenges for the region.

Dr. Keeling serves on the Board of Councilors of the American Geographical Society, North America’s oldest geographic society founded in 1851, and has lectured for the AGS on educational tours to such locations as Russia, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, the Maldives, northern Africa, Gabon, Namibia, Easter Island, Angkor Wat, Papua New Guinea, the Arctic region, Dubai, and the Falkland Islands.

The primary mission of the American Geographical Society’s educational travel programs is to focus attention on some of the planet’s most pressing problems, such as the social implications of climate change for North America’s Great Lakes region, the impact of economic decline in the automotive industry that is clustered around Detroit, and, and the geopolitical relationships between Canada and the U.S. over shared management responsibilities for the lakes. A secondary mission is to demonstrate how geographers address these issues and to promote a broader geographic perspective on sustainable development issues.

“Learning about sustainable development issues first-hand by examining the Great Lakes region and ecology within a global context really helps people to understand the issues of sustainability and global change and puts the challenges we face as a global society into sharper focus,” Dr. Keeling said.

One of the benefits for WKU, Dr. Keeling said, is that the university’s growing international reputation is further enhanced through his participation in these educational tours. Students also benefit from the knowledge gained from these experiences and subsequently shared in the classroom and through research projects and study abroad programs.

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

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