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WKU faculty present research at first World Human Geography Conference

Sponsored by the American Geographical Society and partners, the first World Human Geography Conference convened at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan., on Sept. 14-16.

During the first World Human Geography Conference, WKU faculty members presented research they conducted in Comuna 13, a neighborhood in Medellín, Colombia

Dr. David Keeling, head of WKU’s Department of Geography and Geology, and Dr. John Dizgun, programs coordinator for Kentucky Institute of International Studies, historian and adjunct geography professor, presented research they conducted in Medellín, Colombia.

With co-investigator Dr. Holli Drummond, associate professor in the Department of Sociology, Dr. Keeling and Dr. Dizgun outlined the results of an ongoing analysis of development and change in Comuna 13, a neighborhood of Medellín long afflicted by poverty, drug violence and social instability.

Sponsored initially by the American Geographical Society’s (AGS) Bowman Expeditions and thereafter by a WKU Summer Research grant, Dr. Keeling, Dr. Drummond and Dr. Dizgun have been examining how residents of Comuna 13 are adjusting to changing sociopolitical and economic conditions in Medellín. Dr. Drummond and Dr. Dizgun conducted a detailed youth survey in 2009 in Comuna 13, in partnership with local community and educational organizations, to assess attitudes and perceptions among 9-year-old to 18-year-old students about life in the Comuna.

The conference theme of “Communities and Ethics” drew attendees from government, military, business and academic institutions representing several countries. Notables at the conference included: Dr. Lee Schwartz, Geographer of the United States, U.S. State Department; Brian McClendon, founder of Google Earth; Dr. Peter Herlihy, Professor of Geography at the University of Kansas and leader of the first AGS Bowman Expedition to Mexico; Dr. Jerry Dobson, President of the AGS and Professor of Geography at the University of Kansas; Dr. Daniel Wildcat, Dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences at Haskell Indian Nations University; and Dr. Chris King, Command and General Staff College, U.S. Army, Ft. Leavenworth, Kan.

Representatives from the Russian Geographical Society, the MASTA Federation of Honduras, the U.S. Department of Education, the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Army Research Office, and multiple universities and organizations also participated in the conference.

Dr. Keeling was appointed to the AGS Bowman Expeditions Advisory Council, which is tasked with planning the future of the Bowman Expedition model and helping to arrange the second annual and future WHG conferences. The AGS Bowman Expedition to the U.S. Borderlands (Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and northern South America) is conducting research on participatory mapping, land use and social change as part of its broader mission to promote human geography as a tool to better understand the world we live in.

Contact: David Keeling, (270) 745-4555.

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