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Posted May 31, 2012


Waterloo department celebrates 50 years

WATERLOO - The University of Waterloo’s Department of Geography and Environmental Management is turning 50, and it’s kicking off celebrations with a reunion today.

The reunion is timed to coincide with the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Geographers, taking place at Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, May 28 to June 2. Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University are jointly hosting Congress 2012.

All alumni, students and faculty, former and current, are invited to a reception May 31, from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. There will be tours of Environment 3 at 5:30 p.m., and the reception starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Festival Room in South Campus Hall at the University of Waterloo.

The Department of Geography, as it was once known, began as part of the Faculty of Arts in 1962, when professors Ralph Krueger, Aubrey Diem, and Roy Officer moved to the University of Waterloo from Waterloo College, now Wilfrid Laurier University. The first five graduates, all transfer students, received their diplomas in 1963. The department is now part of Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment.

Geography, the School of Planning, the Department of Man-Environment Studies (now the Department of Environment and Resource Studies), and the School of Architecture (now part of the Faculty of Engineering) amalgamated in 1969 to form what is now called the Faculty of Environment. It was the first undergraduate faculty of environment in Canada.

Geography was renamed the Department of Geography and Environmental Management in 2008. Today, it has many award-winning faculty, including Bruce Mitchell, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; Ellsworth LeDrew, a Fellow of the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute; Jean Andrey, who has won four prestigious teaching awards; Daniel Scott, who is Canada Research Chair in Global Change and Tourism; and Jonathan Price, who is leading a $6.7-million project to turn post-mined oil sands land back into peatland, a task never accomplished before.

Geography combines natural and social sciences, and often information technology, to understand the world. In addition to geography and environmental management, students can study geomatics or aviation. The co-op option offers the most work experience of any geography program in Canada. There are 700 undergraduate and 150 graduate students, making it the largest department in the faculty. As of June 2012, there will be some 5,700 alumni.

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