The Humboldt State geography department was officially renamed the HSU Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial Analysis, or GESA for short. | Photo by Collin Slavey

Geography Department Celebrates Name Change

Geography Department renamed to GESA to better reflect the discipline.
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Geography Department renamed to GESA to better reflect the discipline

The Humboldt State geography department was officially renamed the HSU Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial Analysis, or GESA for short. Along with the name change, the GESA department will begin to publish a scientific journal called Humboldt Geographic.

More than 100 people showed up to the name-change celebration. The evening brought with it a number of presentations from professors within the department including department chair Matthew Derrick. Messages of praise came from the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Alex Enydi as well as the Dean of HSU’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Lisa Bond-Maupin.

“I am grateful to work with students, staff and faculty every day,” Bond-Maupin said. “I am struck by the idea of boundaries. What I am recognizing about this department is it’s about transcending boundaries. I’m struck by that.”

One of the boundaries the GESA department is transcending is the barrier between the department and the greater academic community. To achieve this, Derrick has been promoting GESA’s scientific journal, “Humboldt Geographic.”

“In any kind of education, I say there needs to be some sort of artifact,” Derrick said. “This idea is reunification, where you take ideas and values and they come into some physical form… It is the culmination of where we are right now, and hopefully next year we’ll do it better.”

Humboldt Geographic is a collaborative, student edited and student published scientific journal. It will include coverage of projects within the department as well as alumni updates and stories about the department’s yearly trips abroad. Although each edition should be finished by the end of the semester, the journal will be on the news stands at the beginning of the spring semester.

Changing the name of the department to Geography, Environment and Spatial Analysis reflects the dynamic nature of the discipline. Geography is the study of the physical features of the earth and its atmosphere, and Spatial Analysis is a type of geographical analysis which seeks to explain patterns of human behavior by layering data-filled maps over one another. The way this science can be used is restrained only by the imagination of the geographer.

The Humboldt Geographic Society is chock full of imaginative students. The president of HGS, Summer Owen, talked about the direction of the new geography department.

“As students, we’re not just studying where things are,” Owen said. “We’re studying why things are that way; why people are there, why those lines exist. Through politics, through landscape, mountain ranges, rivers, oceans, the barriers.”

After the announcement, Derrick asked the student members of HGS to the front of the room for a group picture before everyone began to socialize. The festivities continued into the night fueled by champagne and finger food.

Enyedi seemed to enjoy himself and was grateful for the invite from the department.

“President Jackson said we’re gonna have a lot of parties,” Enyedi said. “Partying and celebrating is what we should do. We need to focus on the great things that our students do, that our faculty do, that we do as a community. I’m proud to be part of this community. So thank you for inviting me to [the] party.”

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