Alumni returning for the 75th anniversary of the Geography Department will tour key sites in the Quad Cities and experience the Mississippi River aboard the geography department’s research boat The Scholarship

ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS (April 16, 2024) — Augustana College will celebrate the 75th anniversary of its geography department April 26-27, with alumni from the Quad-Cities and across the country returning to mark the occasion. The public is invited to presentations at the John Deere Planetarium on Saturday, April 27, to hear how Augustana alumni are leading and contributing to important work in their chosen fields today.

Presentations, held from 9AM-12PM, are free and open to the public. Registration is not required.

Professor Emeritus Dr Norm Moline (’64) will kick off the public events by sharing the history of the geography department.

More than seventy geography alumni are expected to return for the weekend, with socials and field trips planned for the multi-generational group. Alumni will tour key sites in the Quad Cities and experience the Mississippi River aboard the geography department’s research boat The Scholarship.

“The anniversary weekend is a time to celebrate the role of the department as an important part of a liberal arts education,” Dr Moline said. “The alumni presentations will be a great opportunity for the public to learn about the terrific faculty and alumni engaged in sharing key geography concepts and skills of the 21st century.”

Dr Moline was one of four faculty members to launch Augustana’s fall terms in East Asia in 1974. He then co-directed all fourteen subsequent fall term programs from 1977-2013.

Featured alumni speakers at the 75th anniversary celebration include Tom Klak (’79) on “speed breeding” of the American Chestnut to restore the keystone tree species of the Eastern US; Dawn Carlson (’90) on alternative intersection design; and Brad Jokisch (’89) on international migration with a Latin American focus.

Augustana’s geography department has a track record of creating strong leaders in the field and Augustana’s strategic plan, Bold and Boundless, is focused on continuing to prepare workforce-ready graduates through engaged learning experiences.

The geography department fosters this engagement through a variety of initiatives, including the Center for Polar Studies launched in 2009 and led by Dr Jennifer Burnham. Dr Reuben Heine co-directs the Geographic Information Science and Technology program, which includes drone mapping research on and off Augustana’s campus, and leads Mississippi River studies with regular interaction with the Corp of Engineers. Augustana Associate Professor Dr Chris Strunk conducts community geography research in the Quad Cities focused on urban planning, refugee resettlement, and community gardens.

An Augustana faculty member since 2012 and current department chair, Dr Strunk said he is excited to reflect on the history of the department and look to its future.

“Geography is an increasingly crucial part of understanding global and environmental issues in the world today,” said Dr Strunk. “We are looking forward to seeing how our alumni are involved in transforming the communities they live in and to have them connect with our current majors.”

Thirty-seven students are currently majoring in geography and 42 minoring in geographic information science and technology at Augustana, with students engaged in social and natural science techniques and geospatial technologies to understand human-environment relationships and key global and local issues. This includes climate change, sustainability, urbanization, resource management, and environmental justice.

In addition to the major or minor, students can also opt for the 3+3 master of landscape architecture coordinated degree program with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

For more information about the department, visit Alumni wishing to register can do so at the registration page.

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