Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Outreach is Our Mission

I wanted to add a quick note to say hello in my first year serving as the department head. Before going further, I would like to thank Derek Alderman for five years of service as our department head. Derek’s visionary leadership and tireless efforts since his arrival in August of 2012 have left UT Department of Geography well positioned across the university and on the national stage. Students, staff, faculty, and alumni have appreciated all of his work.

The overarching theme of this year’s newsletter edition is outreach. While we have many missions, including cutting-edge research and teaching, outreach is perhaps our most important mission. As many of us know, geography often fights for recognition as an academic discipline despite its ability to cut across myriad subjects and despite its facility for examining and offering solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

In this regard, we are very fortunate to have so many geographers applying their considerable skills to various projects in the community, statewide, across the country, and even internationally. As you will see from this newsletter, a number of geographers have been involved in extensive outreach activities. For a start, Michael Camponovo (from our GIS Outreach and Engagement Lab) and Kurt Butefish (of the Tennessee Geographic Alliance) continue to canvas the state, imparting geospatial skills and other geographical techniques to K-12 students and their teachers. Their work is no easy task, yet vitally important to our state and society given the disappearance of geography as a formal course in primary and secondary school curricula. All of this comes at a time when geospatial skills are in increasing demand from both the public and private sectors.

If I were to do justice to all of our outreach projects, this note would be much longer and this newsletter could stretch as long as a Sunday issue of the New York Times. We hope that you enjoy this collection about the outreach-related accomplishments and impacts of our students, faculty, and alumni. Geographers certainly have a lot to offer the world. If you know of any outreach being done, especially by alumni, please let us know. As always, please stop by the department or contact us with updates about what you’re doing.

Best wishes in 2018!

Ron Kalafsky
Professor and Head
Department of Geography