Luminary Speakers

Sarah Witham Bednarz
Professor Emerita
Texas A&M University

Geographys Secret Powers to Save the World

Geographers today are expressing growing interest in the social and political development of children and youth. Much of this concern is the result of the worldwide turn to the right and consequent disquiet about the conditions under which many young people struggle to achieve equality, inclusion, and a sense of personal agency. 

Geography educators have shared these concerns but have done relatively little research to explore the ways that learning geography can empower youth to develop a sense of self, social responsibility, and to raise civic consciousness. In what ways can geography educators help their students to become empowered to participate actively in society?  In what ways can geography educators, through curricula and instructional materials, contribute to creating societies that appreciate, respect, and capitalize on difference? How do geographic knowledge, skills, and practices develop across individuals, settings, and time and how can these understandings be used in transformative ways? We know from research how to teach for transfer. Can these same pedagogic strategies be applied to assist young people to bridge the gaps between knowing and doing? 

Geography educators hone in their pupils two distinct but equally powerful ways of thinking: spatial thinking and geographic thinking. These are our secret powers.This talk focuses on specific and intentional ways that spatial and geographic thinking can effect positive change in individuals. First, I discuss ways that spatial thinking can address gender inequality by closing the gap between men and women in this cognitive arena. Second, I examine strategies to strengthen curricula and instructional materials by applying research from the learning sciences about how individuals develop and refine their opinions and perspectives. Third, I explore how spatial and geographic thinking, in combination with social media and geospatial technologies, can be used to create active, participatory, and emancipated members of society.  Finally, I call for a re-envisioning of geography education to focus on teaching for a world that fully appreciates difference as much as in and about our world. 

Doris Wastl-Walter
Professor, Institute of Geography
University of Bern

Gouverning Diversity - Safeguarding Democracy in Multhiethnic States

The topic of the presentation will be the relationship between governmentality and spatiality. We will first discuss the concepts of ‘demos’ and ‘citizenship’ and their consequences for inclusion, exclusion, minority rights, and in particular the challenges of global migration. We will then focus on decisionmaking, the spatiality of governance, and the different tiers of participation. Finally, we will critically examine several cases based on this theoretical framework including multiethnic states, autonomy movements and battles to create new and independent states.

Shuaib Lwasa
Professor, Department of Geography
Makerere University

The State of African Geography

Michael F Goodchild
Emeritus Professor of Geography
University of California, Santa Barbara

Geographic Information Science

Jérôme Dupras
Professor of Natural Sciences
Université du Québec en Outaouais

Economy, Ecology and Ecosystem Services

Margot Greenwood
Professor, First Nation Studies

Indigenous Studies

Sarah Hunt
Assistant Professor, First Nation and Indigenous Studies

Indigenous Studies

Annie Ross
Professor, First Nation Studies
Simon Fraser University

Indigenous Studies