Chair's Column: August 29, 2019


Dear students, colleagues, and friends of the department:

I hope you all had a restful and productive summer break. Warm welcome to our new and returning students and best wishes to all for a productive and successful 2019-2020 academic year!

I would like to start this note by sharing a personal reflection. The relevancy of our intellectually exciting academic programs to the understanding and solving of pressing problems that humanity is facing today cannot be overemphasized. These problems - from the burning Amazon forest to rising sea levels to shaking world economy to social conflicts – have always had natural and social components operating at once. Directly or indirectly, they involve the ways in which people and societies act upon natural environment that constitutes the foundation of all human life. As it is increasingly clear, these actions have always depended upon economic interests, social hierarchies, politics, and scientific knowledge. Our degrees in geography, environmental studies, earth science, digital mapping, geographic information science, and remote sensing examine exactly those vital interactions between social and natural systems. Our disciplines use geographic concepts of place, space, scale, location, regions, and borders to understand how near and far places are connected by natural resource use, waste flows, climate change, social inequality, economic globalization, migrations, and cultures.

I am excited and proud about what our department has to offer. Our programs equip our community with unique research and analytical tools from human and physical geography, earth systems science, and geographic information science - that all will be in high demand in the coming decades as we seek solutions to our global and local problems.

New departmental name and staff changes
As you may remember, last year our department changed its name. The new name – Department of Geography and Environmental Science – will soon be enshrined above the entrance to the department and on the website. Thanks again to our former student Ivonne Chow who submitted the winning design and a former adjunct instructor Chelsea Gross who has made the final version. And, of course, thanks to Dana Reimer who sponsored the competition for this design.

Several changes in our staff composition have happened over the summer. Our research associate of 43 years Tom Walter retired in June. Assistant to Chair Dana Reimer who received last spring the Anastasia Van Burkalow award for outstanding service to the department will be retiring in mid-September. Several highly qualified candidates have applied for this position and we will soon welcome one of them to the department.

New majors, faculty advisors, and tutoring at SSLC
As you may know, last year we revised both Geography and Environmental Studies majors. Because of changes in the approval process at the state level, the new majors will not be in effect in Fall 2019 as we hoped. The new projected start date is Spring 2020 semester. Students, please talk to your advisors about old and new majors and what works best for you.

Important information for this fall is that Prof. Allan Frei will serve as a Geography undergraduate advisor and Prof. Haydee Salmun – as Environmental Studies undergraduate advisor. For graduate students, Prof. Peter Marcotullio will be helping out our MA Geography students, while Prof. Sean Ahearn will advise MS in GeoInformatics (MGEOi) and GIS certificate students.

Instructors, also please direct your students to tutoring sessions in geography and earth science subjects that will take place in Skirball Science Learning Center this fall. This is an excellent resource for students in introductory courses.

Geography awareness week 2019
Several events will take place during the national Geography Awareness Week (November 10-16, 2019) with a GIS Day on November 13. They will include lectures by prominent geographers, a presentation by U.S. Census of Bureau representatives (highly important given the upcoming 2020 census), lightening talks by students and faculty, and poster exhibits. Stay tuned for more! 

Please visit the department and take a walk down the hallway by 1036 HN. We exhibited all entries submitted last spring for this competition as well as maps submitted for NY Map Society Alice Hudson Award (this award will be given out again in Spring 2020). In general, pay attention to posters in our hallways – they represent excellent research by our students.  Also, please look for updates about our student and faculty summer achievements including internships, research trips, and publications at our website

As always, do not hesitate to write to me with any questions, ideas, good news, or concerns – I am here to help and make our department a welcoming place for all.

Wishing you a smooth start for Fall 2019!

Prof. Pavlovskaya

Marianna Pavlovskaya, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Geography and Environmental Science, Hunter College, CUNY
Ph.D. Program in Earth and Environmental Sciences, CUNY Graduate Center