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REF NO.: 58

SUBJECT: Week designed to show geography’s importance
DATE: Nov. 10, 2006

For those who don’t know much about geography, next week’s activities are designed to help. Geography Awareness Week runs Nov. 14-19 on the St. John’s campus.
            The week is a new initiative of the Canadian Association of Geographers, and is modeled on the U.S. National Geographic Society week that’s been held since 1987.
            According to Dr. Chris Sharpe, past president of the association and a Memorial professor, the venture aims to highlight how the physical and human geography of this country – and this province – is changing, and the implications to the social, cultural, economic, political and environmental landscapes.
            To battle what he calls “rampant geographic illiteracy,” Dr. Sharpe advocated for this initiative.
            “It’s a beginning, to try and help people understand how geography impacts lives,” he said. “We want to give the public the same message that we give to our first year students: there is a geography of everything.”
            A number of events are planned throughout the week, including lunchtime lectures to explore locally-relevant issues:
      
  • On Tuesday, Dr. Alvin Simms will explore how an analysis of the way people, businesses and public services interact within rural areas – and how these interactions affect travel patterns – could lead to planning for regions where services, structures and industries are located for improved functionality.
  • On Thursday, Dr. Norm Catto will detail the risk and reality of natural hazards in Newfoundland and Labrador, and how a more integrated approach to assessing risk and vulnerability is vital to effective emergency planning.
  • On Friday, Dr. Trevor Bell will discuss his research on lead contamination of soils and why it matters.
 The centrepiece of the week is GIS Day on Wednesday, Nov. 15, which features interactive displays in the Inco Innovation Centre lobby from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. This annual global event offers a chance for the public to become more familiar with the importance of GIS, or geographic information system technology that is used worldwide.
            Dr. Rodolphe Devillers, who helped organize this event, said it’s been promoted to high schools in the St. John’s area, and he expects geography classes to take advantage of the opportunity.
            According to Dr. Devillers, the planned “GIS Corridor” will have demonstrations of mapping and global positioning software, equipment used by land surveyors, and a series of displays by the federal and provincial governments, the City of St. John’s, and various Memorial departments and researchers.
            Geography Awareness Week ends with the Geoamazing Race on Sunday, Nov. 19, from 12-4 p.m. All are welcome to take part in a wild adventure of geographic challenges – can you put up a tent in a hurricane, or find traces of

ancient civilizations in a sandbox? – spread throughout the St. John’s campus. Teams are invited to register with the Memorial University Geographical Society by e-mailing MUGSexec@gmail.com by Wednesday, Nov. 15.

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