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Sutton: 2017 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer

March 8, 2017

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL –- The Western Illinois University 2017 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer Christopher Sutton, professor of geography, will present "The Power of Maps" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 22 in the College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) Recital Hall (Macomb) and at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 6 at the WIU-QC Riverfront Campus, room 103-104 (Moline). The lecture is open free to the public.

Sutton joined Western's faculty in 1998 as assistant professor and environmental studies minor adviser in the Department of Geography, after working as an adjunct instructor at the University of Denver and assistant professor at Northwestern State University. During his tenure at Western, he has served as the environmental studies minor adviser; graduate program coordinator, and also as department chair from 2002-06.

"In order to understand any phenomenon, whether one is examining tree species, marketing or crime, location often plays a central role. Understanding location helps us understand where phenomena occur and how they relate spatially to their surrounding environment," Sutton explained. "Over the past two decades, technological advances have allowed researchers and government agencies not only to increase the capability of data collection but also to focus on the locational nature of the phenomena they are studying. Today, as much as 80 percent of all data collected by government agencies is geographic in nature. And how is this geographical data being communicated? Through maps."

According to Sutton, his lecture will also focus upon the fundamentals of maps as communication as the written or spoken word.

"Today, maps are a pervasive element in our everyday lives. We use maps for navigation on our phones and in our cars. We also see maps used widely in social media and by news organizations. Maps are effective because they can convey a lot of data quickly and effectively," he added. "What many do not realize is the extent to which maps convey a lot of data incorrectly and at times deliberately deceitfully."

Sutton received the Distinguished Geographer Award in 2012 from the Illinois Geographical Society, which is the highest honor presented by the organization. He was the WIU Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecturer and received the Provost's Award for Excellence in University/Community Service in 2011. Sutton has also received numerous other awards throughout the years including the Outstanding Faculty Award for Service – College of Arts and Sciences, Professional Achievement Awards, Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching with Technology and Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching with Technology.

Sutton has served on numerous department, college and University committees including as co-chair of the University Accreditation Self-Study; faculty co-adviser of Golden Key International Honor Society; and faculty adviser of Gamma Theta Upsilon (honor society). He has has authored or co-authored over 50 publications, as well as chapters in several other books; and numerous manuals, videos, related pedagogical publications and articles in peer-reviewed journals. Sutton also edited Goode's World Atlas, 23rd edition, a major accomplishment within the discipline of geography. Throughout his career, he has presented his research at many scholarly conferences and meetings.

He is currently vice president of the Illinois Geographical Society and is a member of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society, Illinois GIS Association, National Council for Geographic Education, North American Cartographic Information Society and Rotary International.

Sutton earned his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Denver and his master's and bachelor's degrees from WIU.

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