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Geography Awareness Week Lectures

November 9, 2006

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MACOMB, IL - - Two prominent figures in the discipline of geography will present two Geography Awareness Week lectures at Western Illinois University. Both lectures are open free to the public.

John Fraser Hart, geography professor at the University of Minnesota, will present Western’s 2006-07 Robert Gabler Lecture at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 13 in Morgan Hall 109. His talk will be based on his latest book, “The Changing Geography of American Agriculture” (University of Virginia Press, 2003), which focuses on the geography of rural areas of America.

Hart’s statement of interest and research on his U of M website ( reads: “I am just an old-fashioned country geographer who likes to make and use maps. I try to understand what I see as I ramble through rural areas, and I supplement my observations with census data and maps that are based on these data. I enjoy sharing what I have learned, both in the classroom and through scholarly publication, which to me are inseparable aspects of the research process.”

He has published in excess of 250 refereed articles, book reviews and other publications and has written more than a dozen books, including the award-winning, “The Land That Feeds Us” (1992).

Hart is well known for his service to the profession. He served as the Association of American Geographers (AAG) executive director and president and edited the prestigious Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Hart also served the Association of American Geographers as executive director, president and editor of the Annals.

The Gabler Lecture is named for Robert Gabler, who served as chair of Western’s geography department and director of international programs. He is a past president of both the Illinois Geographical Society and the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) and the recipient of the NCGE's George J. Miller Distinguished Service Award. Gabler was named one of the "Leaders in American Geography" by Barton and Karan's 1992 book of the same name. Gabler also is the author of numerous books including “Introduction to Physical Geography,” “Essentials of Physical Geography” (now in its seventh edition) and “Human Geography: People Cultures and Landscapes.”

Donald Luman, a Western Illinois alumnus who works in the Illinois State Geologic Survey 3D Geologic Mapping Programs, will present “Illinois from Above and the Ground Level: Images of the Great Depression and New Deal Era" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15 Morgan Hall 109.

The presentation will bring together two photography collections that have been separated for many decades. President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted a number of reforms and programs during the New Deal Era of the 1930s, including the Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA) and the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Both programs, managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, were designed to assist farmers and both photographically documented land and lives of Americans during the Great Depression.

The FSA photographs are of people and their lives on the ground, while the AAA collection is the first-time nationwide aerial photography done to assess the uses and condition of rural lands.

Luman earned his bachelor’s degree in earth science (1969) and master’s degree in geography (1971) at Western Illinois and his doctorate from the University of Illinois.

WIU Geography Department

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