UGA offers students new way to see the world

SA geography club aims to connect geography students, affect entire campus

The Spectrum

It's been a year since David Harary, Matt Adam and Josh Krause created a club for geography students to network in what they consider an "isolated department." And that isolation is starting to change.

Founded in November 2012 by Harary, Adam and Krause, the Undergraduate Geography Association (UGA) provides a social forum for students interested in geography to network with one another and learn and discuss geography's effect on people's lives.

Harary, a junior economics and international trade major, said there was once a undergraduate geography club, but it failed to achieve its potential. Harary and a handful of other students wanted to "bring it back."

"I think when David, Josh and I started this, we saw this as an opportunity to unite a very isolated department and student body," said Adam, a senior geography and cartography major and the vice president of UGA. Adam explained said undergraduate geography students are not well connected with one another.

With the help of UGA, which now has 55 members, the geography department is starting to come together.

Adam said the club is still "gaining footing" with the department, but, thus far, the club has brought together geography students, professors and the chair of the department for academic and social gain.

For Adam, UGA helped him become friends with students within the department who, he said, he would never have met otherwise. In addition, the club has helped him become friendlier with the geography professors, and the connections resulted in an offer for a research position.

Furthermore, members of UGA help students academically.

"We'll publish study guides for classes, we'll put the UGA's logo on it [and] send it out to the class," Harary said.

He said, this way, students start to learn about UGA and feel a little more connected to the club.

The 55 members aren't all geography majors, though.

"[I think] geography is connected to most majors here at UB," said Rebecca Johnstone, a junior environmental design major and UGA's director and interim treasurer.

Johnstone said she joined the club because she believes geography is "an important academic discipline" and it affects many aspects of life. She also said UGA is a great resource for developing one's r?(c)sum?(c), networking and challenging people's ways of seeing the world and its problems.

She said UGA's events, like last September's field trip to Devil's Hole State Park that 20 members attended, are usually successful.

"What we've seen is people really like these physical geography field trips," Harary said.

Harary added that, throughout the trip, students bonded and got to know each other while studying different perspectives of the environment.

Johnstone, however, said the club needs to work on having consistent events and speaker presentations. Harary also aims to bring more professional events to the club, like professional speakers, graduate discussions about research and dissertation projects.

This year, Harary wants to see the club grow to ensure it will becomes "self-sustainable" after UGA's governing members graduate.

Harary's next goal is to market and work with businesses around Buffalo. Harary said the group is getting Twitter and Instagram accounts, as well as other social media branches to develop UGA's marketing strategies.

He said the club's main communication comes from its Facebook page.

UGA has benefited students socially and academically, and club members look forward to reaching out to even more students and showing how geography gives people a new way to understand the world.