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Regional geography conference to be held Oct. 17-19 at UW-Eau Claire

October 9, 2013
Association of American Geographers Conference

EAU CLAIRE — Geographers from throughout the Upper Midwest will find their way to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Oct. 17-19 for the conference of the West Lakes region of the Association of American Geographers.

Members of the public are welcome to register for paid portions of the conference and/or to attend free events that will be open to the public.

"This conference is a great opportunity for people in the region to be reminded that geography is far more than country capitals, longest rivers and 'Jeopardy!' questions," said Dr. Paul Kaldjian, associate professor and chair of the UW-Eau Claire geography and anthropology department, and a member of the conference planning committee. "Understanding the importance of place, relationships over space, and nature-society interactions are only some of the elements of a discipline that provides important and meaningful perspectives on the human experience. People are always surprised at the richness, depth and breadth of geography — but everything has a geography. And, of course, maps are our distinguishing form of communication."

In attendance will be nearly 150 professional geographers from the public and private sectors, academics, and undergraduate and graduate students from as far away as Bemidji State, DePaul, Northwestern and Valparaiso universities.

"Not only are we glad to highlight geography, we are thrilled at the opportunity to feature our department, campus and community to geographers from throughout a five- or six-state region," Kaldjian said.

The UW-Eau Claire geography and anthropology department will host the conference in partnership with the Association of American Geographers and will co-host special events with the Chippewa Valley Book Festival. The conference will include workshops, research presentations and special sessions for registered, paid conference attendees; a free morning workshop for K-12 teachers Oct. 19; research poster sessions open to the public; free presentations by two award-winning authors — New York Times bestselling, local author Michael Perry and graphic novelist and two-time National Book Award nominee Gene Yang; and free local walking tours led by UW-Eau Claire geographers.

Dr. David Wishart, a historical geographer from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will be the Oct. 18 luncheon keynote speaker. He will discuss his upcoming book, "The Last Days of the Rainbelt," to be published this year. Wishart's earlier book titled "An Unspeakable Sadness: The Dispossession of the Nebraska Indians" was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

"We're very excited to have Dr. Wishart speak on environmental change on the Great Plains and that we are able to partner with the Chippewa Valley Book Festival to feature authors Michael Perry and Gene Yang," Kaldjian said. "This speaks to the interdisciplinary nature of geography."

A conference schedule, event details and fees for attending all or portions of the conference are available on the conference website. Special pricing is offered for K-12 teachers, university faculty, and university undergraduate and graduate students.

The following conference events are free and open to the public:

  • Walking tour of the Putnam Park State Natural Area, 4:30-5:30 p.m. Oct. 17, starting on the east side of UW-Eau Claire's W.R. Davies Student Center, facing Phillips Science Hall. The tour will explore the northwest end of the 200-acre park and will feature an introduction to the park's geomorphic setting (including a cliff-top view of the Chippewa River) and its biogeographic diversity. The tour will be led by UW-Eau Claire geography faculty members Dr. Doug Faulkner, Dr. Garry Running and Dr. Harry Jol.

  • Opening presentation by Michael Perry, 7 p.m. Oct. 17 in the Ojibwe Room of Davies Center. Perry, a New Auburn native, UW-Eau Claire alumnus and rural Wisconsin resident whose bestselling works include "Population 485," "Truck: A Love Story," "Coop" and "Visiting Tom," will discuss his Upper Midwest explorations of people and place.

  • Luncheon speaker Dr. David Wishart, 1 p.m. Oct. 18, in Davies Center. A limited number of seats are available to the public. Please call Dr. Ryan Weichelt at 715-497-4426 for information and to reserve a spot.

  • "Settlement Geography of Eau Claire" walking tour, 4:45-5:45 p.m. Oct. 18, starting on the east side of Davies Center, facing Phillips Science Hall. The tour will be led by UW-Eau Claire geography faculty member Dr. Ingolf Vogeler.

  • Closing presentation by 2013 National Book Award nominee Gene Luen Yang, 1-3 p.m. Oct. 19 in the Dakota Room of Davies Center. Yang's graphic novel "Boxers & Saints" is up for a 2013 National Book Award. He also was a National Book Award finalist in 2006 for his work "American Born Chinese." Yang's address will explore issues of identity, race, heritage and perspective.

  • Research poster presentations, evening of Oct. 17 and Oct. 18 during the day, Davies Center third-floor hallways.

For more information about the conference, contact Dr. Paul Kaldjian, associate professor and chair of the UW-Eau Claire geography and anthropology department, at 715-836-2321 or kaldjian@uwec.edu.

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