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Geography Professor Christopher Sutton, the 2011 John Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecturer (WIU VPC Photo)
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Geographer Christopher Sutton to Present 2011 Hallwas Lecture Sept. 7 at WIU-QC, Sept. 8 at WIU-Macomb

August 24, 2011

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – More than places on maps or directions on Google, the field of geography ties human beings to their environment.

Western Illinois University Professor Christopher Sutton will make a case for the importance of geography and geographic literacy when he presents the Ninth Annual John Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecture, sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7 in Room 115 at WIU-Quad Cities and at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8 in the University Union Grand Ballroom at WIU-Macomb.

Sutton's lecture, titled "Geography Matters! The Importance of Geographic Literacy in Liberal Arts Education," will address the following: What is geography and what do geographers do? How is geographic literacy critical to all disciplines in the liberal arts and sciences? How are geospatial technologies shaping our interpretation of the world?

"Central to a strong liberal arts training is the understanding that all things are related to all other things. Nowhere is this seen more profoundly than in geography. I am honored to be chosen to deliver the College of Arts and Science's 2011 Hallwas Lecturer and am excited to share my love of my discipline with the campus communities," said Sutton, who earned his bachelor's (1988) and master's (1991) degrees in geography in WIU. He completed his Ph.D. in geography at the University of Denver (1995).

"Geography essentially is the understanding of the highly complex relationship between human beings and their environment," he added. "Because all activities are affected at some level by this relationship, it is important for all persons to understand basic geographic principles.

"We live in a world that is characterized by the increasing interconnectedness of people and places. Our economic, political and even social activities are global in scope. As events such as international terrorist attacks or the current global economic crisis have shown us, not only do events in distant places affect us, but they can do so very quickly and profoundly," Sutton said.

Prior to coming back to Western to teach in 1998, Sutton taught geography at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches (LA) (1995-1998). At WIU, Sutton has served as the department's graduate program coordinator (1999-2002) and as department chair (2002-2007).

He is an active teacher and scholar, who co-authored two atlases, "Student Atlas of World Geography" and "Student Atlas of World Politics"; serves as geography series editor for McGraw-Hill's Global Studies book series; has published several journal articles; and has made many conference presentations. Sutton is cartography editor for the journal Illinois Geographer and has served as a judge for the Illinois Geography Bee since 2010. The NSU Student Government Association twice named him "Professor of the Year." At Western, Sutton received the Provost Award for Excellence for Teaching with Technology, the College of Arts and Sciences Teaching with Technology Award and the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Service Award. He also served as faculty co-chair for WIU's accreditation self-study.

He is a charter member of the Macomb Centennial Morning Rotary Club, for which he served as president (2009-2010) and was named a Paul Harris Fellow in 2011. This year, Sutton also was elected to the Macomb District 185 school board.

"The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) is indebted to Dr. John Hallwas, our first Liberal Arts Lecture speaker, Western's well-known scholar of regional history and the most widely published author in Western's history," said CAS Dean Susan Martinelli-Fernandez. "For more than 30 years, Hallwas has brought historical and cultural insights to the people of Illinois through a breadth of publications, lectures and workshops focused on literature, history, community life, environmental thought and creative nonfiction. He continues to remind us of the importance of the liberal arts in facilitating self-knowledge, fostering a commitment to self and others and promoting a well-educated and concerned citizenry. We thank John for being a champion of liberal arts education."

Past lecturers in the series have included Dr. John Hallwas (2003), Dr. Charles Helm (2004), Dr. Karen Mann (2005), Dr. Tracy Knight (2006), President Al Goldfarb (2007), Dr. Rick Hardy (2008), Dr. Iraj Kalantari (2009) and Bill Knight (2010). The John Hallwas Lecture, which is open free to the public, is designated as a First Year Experience (FYE) event for Western Illinois University students.

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