Wisconsin Geospatial News

UW-Eau Claire Geography Receives AAG Award for Bachelor Program Excellence

The Department of Geography and Anthropology at UW–Eau Claire has received the 2024 American Association of Geographers (AAG) Award for Bachelor Program Excellence, which recognizes excellence in Geography programs at U.S. colleges and universities.

UW Eau-Claire, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

According to the AAG website, the annual award and cash prize honors “Geography departments and Geography programs within blended departments that have significantly enhanced the prominence and reputation of Geography as a discipline and demonstrated the characteristics of a strong and engaged academic unit.” The award honors non-Ph.D. granting Geography programs at the associate, baccalaureate, and master levels. The AAG “recognizes that these programs play an important role in educating future geographers and promoting the discipline to a wider world, but that they tend not to be included in national rankings within the Academy.”

The following is the award summary from the AAG:

The Geography and Anthropology Program at The University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire is home to ten tenured and tenure-track faculty, three instructors, a geospatial facilitator, and a department coordinator and offers four distinct majors (B.A. and B.S. degrees in Comprehensive Environmental Geography; Geography; Geospatial Analysis and Technology; and, Transnational Geographies), a minor in Geography, and three certificates (Cartography and Geovisualization; Geospatial; and, Urban and Regional Planning). A dynamic and evolving curriculum that centers on immersive and field-based learning supports these degrees and credentials and has enabled the department to extend geospatial technologies and methodologies into other programs. The program supports undergraduate research opportunities in local and international contexts that have propelled high levels of student participation in a variety of conferences, some of which the department has hosted. These high-impact learning experiences have facilitated students’ pursuit of advanced degrees in geography and participation in geography-related professions. The department has also sought to build a more diverse student body by taking the initiative to integrate equity, diversity, and inclusivity into its courses and departmental policies. This exemplary program has been fueled by faculty members’ active scholarly production, often involving students, and by student enthusiasm for geographic education. One final aspect marking the excellence of this program is the active Geography and Anthropology Club that contributes to the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team’s Missing Maps project, which puts into practice the department’s mission to “engage in local to global community issues.”

Dr. Ryan Weichelt, professor and chair of the department, states that the award “honors the contributions of all past faculty, staff and students that have led to the department we are today.” More details, including comments from Dr. Aleks Sternfeld-Dunn, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UW–Eau Claire, can be found in this online article.

More information about the department can be found on the UW-Eau Claire website.

Congratulations to our friends and colleagues at UW-Eau Claire on this important award!