Dear Friends and Alumni,

Greetings from the new director of the University of Arizona School of Geography and Development (SGD).  I joined the school in August 2015, just as we were moving into the new Environment and Natural Resources 2 building with its desert canyon design on 6th Street just east of Park.   Attached you will find the fall 2015 newsletter and read about the wonderful things afoot in the School of Geography and Development including new degrees, new faculty, new engagements with the community, and our new home.  I feel very fortunate to have come into such a wonderful environment and community.  But we need your help!

We have made exciting changes to the degrees offered through the School, but we want to do more:  we want to offer all our students more opportunities for engagement in the community, for professional development, for experiences that will enhance their degrees, for scholarships to offset the rising costs of higher education, and for training that will help them seize opportunities to address the challenges facing our communities and the world.  It may sound grand, but we have always thought big!

To do this, we need your help.  We will, of course, accept money; you can contribute by visiting our website (  We also need your ideas and assistance in simultaneously helping the students and bringing about broader change.

As we think about the challenges facing our world, we believe there are at least four areas in which our current majors can be positioned to lead and to make changes by:

Ø  building sustainable and prosperous cities, communities, businesses and regions

Ø  ensuring water, food, energy, recreation, and health for all in the face environmental and ecosystem change

Ø  promoting socially just development practices that support livelihoods in local, border and international contexts


The challenges in each of these areas are complex.  But they are also areas in which our students can excel and make a mark on the world:

Ø  they require approaches that are unconstrained by divisions between human and natural worlds or put in silos by traditional disciplines;

Ø  they require an understanding of spatial relationships and the importance of place and context;

Ø  they can only be understood through the application of multiple, mixed methods, including GIS and other approaches to understanding;

Ø  Our faculty are conducting path-breaking research in these areas by working alongside undergraduate and graduate students. But our students are clamouring for even more opportunities.

How you can help?  We know that many of you have experience in these areas.  Would you be willing to talk with our students in a roundtable or professional development workshop?  Could you help advise the School on the preparation or background our students will need to solve these challenges?  Could you sponsor an internship, a scholarship or student award?  Could you connect students to someone who could?  Could you help students travel to field sites or internships? 

The University has set a goal of 100% engagement.  By this, they mean that all students should have a meaningful experience outside the classroom that gives them additional insight or experience. One hundred per cent of the SGD faculty are committed to achieving this goal, but we take it further.  We are backing up this moral commitment with financial commitments from all SGD professors; we even have a matching grant program funded by one of the professors.  And we are relentless in finding ways to engage students in research, in the community, and in professional opportunities.  To achieve these ends, we also need 100% engagement from our alumni. 

We are asking you to contribute in whatever way you can.  You can donate through the University Foundation at:  But you can also donate advice, expertise, and access to opportunities for the students.  To do so, please contact any of the Development team within the School: 

The School and the most important people in it – the students – thank you.