UNK hosting presentations for Geography Awareness Week

Jeremy Dillon
Jeremy Dillon
Rex Rowley
Rex Rowley

KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney Department of Geography is hosting a pair of events during Geography Awareness Week, a national campaign that encourages geographic awareness and literacy among students and the general public.

Rex Rowley, an associate geography professor at Illinois State University, will present “A Tsunami, a Recovery, and a Shark Museum: Discovering a Sense of Place in Kesennuma, Japan” at 3:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 12) in Copeland Hall Room 140.

On March 11, 2011, Japan experienced the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the country. The resulting tsunami inundated coastlines, destroyed villages and parts of many cities and displaced or killed tens of thousands of residents. The coastal port and fishing city of Kesennuma was one of the hardest-hit areas.

The tsunami and subsequent recovery underscored certain elements of the city’s sense of place-based identity and forever changed others, according to Rowley, who explores how the Kesennuma Shark Museum symbolizes the shifting sense of place in the city.

Rowley’s conclusions are based on four years of participant observation, conversations with residents and an analysis of the museum’s purpose, layout and messaging to patrons.

“The Shark Museum is a mirror reflecting the memory, optimism and shifting sense of place in the broader community in the wake of the waves,” according to Rowley.

Jeremy Dillon, a geography professor at UNK, will present “Geology and Paleoecology of the Kearney Area During the Last Glacial Maximum: Our Ice Age Landscape 23,000 Years Ago” at 3 p.m. Nov. 14 in Copeland Hall Room 140.

During the last glacial maximum, the Kearney area looked very different than today. The familiar grassland prairies and riparian stands of cottonwood and other deciduous trees were not present. Instead, the landscape was mantled by a spruce forest with interspersed wetlands. The area looked more like northern Canada than south-central Nebraska.

Dillon will share the results of his investigations into the geology and paleoecology of the full-glacial landscape, and present the plant macrofossils, pollen and geologic data his group is using to reconstruct the Kearney landscape from some 23,000 years ago.

Geography Awareness Week was created in 1987 to educate and excite people about geography as both a discipline and a part of everyday life.

The UNK events are free and open to the public.

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