FARMINGTON — More than 80 geographers and their students from across New England and Quebec recently gathered at the University of Maine at Farmington — and literally brought the world with them.
Participants convened at UMF for the annual New England-St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society Conference that included hands-on geography lessons with “Earth View,” a 22-foot inflatable globe; the regional World Geography Bowl competition; an academic paper and poster session and a discussion on sustainability science.
As part of the conference, faculty and students from Bridgewater State University led more than 200 students and educators from local schools and UMF faculty through a series of lessons and exercises with Earth View to be able to “see the world in its entirety.”
The two-story-tall inflatable globe’s outside is a hand-painted, large-scale map of the Earth’s surface, while the interior, which participants can enter, reveals tectonic plate boundaries and ocean spreading centers. Earth View was unveiled by Bridgewater State University in 2008 as a traveling teaching tool that could help teach students about plate tectonics, global cultures, biogeography, political geography and climate change.
Six teams competed in the World Geography Bowl with Clark University from Worcester, Mass., taking first place and Salem State University, from Salem, Mass., taking second. Thirty student and faculty papers and poster sessions were presented throughout the day.
In the Emery Community Arts Center Performance Space at UMF, Robert Kates, a geographer, independent scholar and co-convener of the Initiative on Science and Technology for Sustainability, reflected on a long career as a geographer. Kates and Matthew McCourt, UMF associate professor of geography, engaged in a wide ranging discussion about the sustainability science and the role of academics in forming public policy.
Cathleen McAnneny, UMF professor of geography, who has worked with NESTVAL in many capacities for 18 years, was recognized with the organization’s Distinguished Service Award. “I am thrilled to receive this award and equally pleased to be able to help bring eye-opening educational opportunities like this to our local community,” said McAnneny. “It isn’t every day students can take a tour of the Earth, inside and out, to better understand the science of how our planet works.”
Margaret Chernosky, a teacher from Bangor High School who teaches geography, advanced placement geography and GIS, was recognized by UMF as a Friend of Geography.