University News

Chris Sutton (WIU VPC photo)
[Download Print-Quality Image]

WIU’s Christopher Sutton Presented IGS Distinguished Geographer Award

May 17, 2012

Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL – Christopher Sutton, a Western Illinois University geography professor, received the Illinois Geographical Society's (IGS) highest honor at a recent state conference. He was presented with the IGS Distinguished Geographer Award.

The annual award is given in recognition of the recipient's efforts to advance geography in Illinois and for service to the IGS.

"Chris was the unanimous choice of the three nominating committee members for this year's Distinguished Geographer Award," said out-going President Mike Cornebise.

The nominating committee, comprised of the past three Distinguished Geographer Award recipients, reviewed nominees based on their merits and accomplishments. According to Cornebise, three main aspects of Sutton's record stood out: his service to the IGS as secretary, vice president and president (2007-2008) as well as coordinator for the 2011 statewide meeting in Macomb; his record of teaching, service and research; and mentoring geographers in training, including in his classrooms, as well as encouraging students to attend IGS meetings and present their research.

"IGS is dedicated to promoting and expanding geographic education and research throughout Illinois. It's humbling to receive such a prestigious honor from an organization whose mission is critically important to the furtherance of the discipline of geography," said Sutton, who is steadfast in his commitment to communicate the importance of his field not only to students but also to the public.

Sutton, who is the seventh WIU geography professor to receive the DGA since 1970, said geography essentially is the understanding of the highly complex relationship between human beings and their environment. 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, Sutton said. "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."

This spring, Sutton was also presented the HOPE (Honoring Our Professors' Excellence) Award from WIU's University Housing and Dining Services for outstanding instruction and dedication to students. In Fall 2011, he presented the ninth annual John Hallwas Liberal Arts Lecture, sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). His topic was "Geography Matters! The Importance of Geographic Literacy in Liberal Arts Education." Also in 2011, Sutton received the Provost's Award for Excellence in University/Community Service, the CAS Outstanding Service Award, and he was elected to the Macomb School Board. He also was named a Paul Harris Fellow through the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Sutton received two Professional Achievement Awards (2010, 2006), the Provost's Award for Excellence in Teaching with Technology (2005) and the CAS Outstanding Teaching with Technology Award (2005).

"The College of Arts and Sciences is extremely proud of Dr. Sutton, who is a superior teacher, researcher and innovator. He is clearly dedicated to advancing the message of why geography is important to all of us to better understand the world around us. Dr. Sutton is well-deserving of this Distinguished Geographer Award," said CAS Dean Susan Martinelli-Fernandez.

Sutton is co-author of two books, "Student Atlas of World Geography" (McGraw-Hill) and "Student Atlas of World Politics" (McGraw-Hill), now in their seventh and 10th editions, respectively. He has written numerous articles for refereed journals, a book review and several instructor's manuals and pedagogical publications. He is the editor for geography information in the Global Studies' eight-book series (McGraw-Hill) and on the advisory board for Annual Editions: Environment. Sutton's editorial and review work encompasses numerous manuscripts, journals and books. He is also a frequent presenter at conferences.

Sutton came to Western in 1998 as an assistant professor of geography and the environmental studies minor adviser. He was the geography graduate program adviser (1999-2002) and chair of the department (2002-2007). Since 2007, Sutton has concentrated on teaching, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and on research.

Prior to coming to WIU, Sutton was the geography program coordinator and assistant professor in the department of social sciences at Northwestern State University (Natchitoches, LA), 1995-1989. Sutton earned his Ph.D. (1995) in geography from the University of Denver and his M.A. (1991) and B.S. (1988) in geography from Western Illinois University.

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Communications & Marketing