IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Faculty, students, and staff gather as Cynthia Brewer (left), head of department, and Karen Kite (right), daughter of Wilbur Zelinsky, unveil a commemorative plaque honoring the late Professor Emeritus Wilbur Zelinsky’s service and contributions to the department and the field of geography. The special event took place during the annual Recognition Reception. The plaque will be hung in seminar room 337.
Alumnus Kirk Goldsberry (’99) had published a new book, “SprawlBall,” about the evolution of basketball and the analytics driving it. It is reviewed in the Washington Post.
MGIS student Curran McBride is one of the 2019 Esri Development Center Students of the Year.
Several geographers received awards at the College of EMS Wilson Banquet:
- Erica Smithwick won the Wilson Award for Excellence in Research!
- Alex Klippel received the Miller Faculty Fellowship,
- Michelle Ritchie won the College Schenck Teaching Assistant Award
- Andrew Patterson (undergraduate student) won the Steidle Achievement Award.
Three new grad reps have been elected for the 2019-2020 academic year: Courtney Jackson, Connor Chapman, and Ruchi Patel. They will be serving alongside Jamie Peeler and Saumya Vaishnava, whose terms last through the fall semester.
Here is something to think about: Some of Penn State’s current Department of Geography students weren’t even born when Online Geospatial Education at Penn State offered its first class. While online classes are now considered normal, for the educators who launched these distance education courses in the late 1990s, it was a novel and risky venture.
Federally sponsored science plays a more significant role in bringing together stakeholders and facilitating environmental governance debates than all other types of research, according to an international team of researchers.
Nicholas Lacey stepped out of the helicopter and into a crowd of people who gathered in anticipation.
The helicopter carried building materials, but for the people of Haiti, who were still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, a devastating Category 5 storm, it was critical material to start rebuilding homes and lives.
Two graduate students in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences were recognized for their research and presentation skills during the 2019 Graduate Exhibition, hosted by the Graduate School at Penn State in March. Kirsty McKenzie, a graduate student in geosciences, and Weiming Hu, a graduate student in geography, placed second and third, respectively, in the physical sciences and mathematics division of the exhibition.
Penn State’s fully interactive online campus maps have been upgraded with a feature that will come in handy for students looking for computer lab space.
Already capable of displaying more than 15 layers of information at a time—including building and classroom locations, parking options and construction areas—maps.psu.edu is now tracking computer lab usage across University Park, a helpful feature that’s debuted in time for finals week when labs are busiest.
Do Wastelands Exist? Perspectives on “Productive” Land Use in India’s Rural Energyscapes
Jennifer Baka looks at energy cultivation in India through an analysis of two energy development programs. The Social Forestry Programme and the National Mission on Biodiesel supported the development of “wastelands” by transitioning from biomass to biofuel. Their aim was to generate energy, and revitalize rural communities by providing them with energy security. However, Baka shows that the government’s failure to acknowledge the importance of wastelands to rural dwellers’ livelihoods resulted in dispossession, energy shortages, and job losses. These programs ultimately failed due to the disconnect between government conceptions of land-use improvement and existing local land-use practices.
Environmental Knowledge Cartographies: Evaluating Competing Discourses in U.S. Hydraulic Fracturing Rule-Making
Jennifer Baka, Arielle Hesse, Erika Weinthal & Karen Bakker
Annals of the American Association of Geographers
In this article, we evaluate competing environmental knowledge claims in U.S. hydraulic fracturing (HF) regulation. We conduct a case study of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) rule-making process over the period from 2012 to 2015, which was the first attempt to update federal oil and gas regulations in thirty years. Our study addresses a gap in the energy geographies and environmental governance literatures, which have yet to evaluate systematically HF-related decision-making processes at the policymaking scale. We mobilize theoretical insights from science and technology studies on boundary objects and critical environmental discourse analysis to conduct a “cultural cartography” of the BLM’s rule-making process. Our analysis of a subset of 1.4 million public comments submitted to the BLM, combined with fifteen stakeholder interviews, focuses on (1) who participated in the rule-making process; (2) the types of knowledge claims advanced in support or opposition of the rule; and (3) how these claims affected the rule-making process. In contrast to recent literature that finds increased “horizontality” of environmental knowledge production, we find a clear hierarchy that privileges government knowledge—including federal government–sponsored research and existing laws—above all other categories of evidence cited. As such, we argue that government knowledge—which in this case brought disparate stakeholder groups together to debate HF regulation—functions as a key boundary object in the rule-making process. We conclude with a discussion of implications for both research and policy.