Faculty Life in Geography @ UW-Madison

Additional Information for Prospective Applicants

As you know, if you followed a link through to this page, the Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, is seeking “applicants broadly trained in Geovisualization having a strong background in cartographic design”.

Our intent with this site is to provide a little more background information on the Department as it relates to the position and some links so that you can learn more about Madison as a place to live.

Inside Geography

The Department of Geography is located at Science Hall (pictured to the right), 550 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706. A campus map here will also help you locate Science Hall. We are located within a 2 minutes walk to the Memorial Union, which is situated on Lake Mendota.

Apart from the obvious point that you should check out the Geography faculty homepages, we would like to encourage you to contact any of us in the Department if you have any queries about research, teaching, and service issues. If you seek particular advice regarding this vacancy, Bob Kaiser is the chair Geography and he is happy to respond to queries you might have, as is Jim Burt (the search committee chairperson). And if you are having a hard time getting through, leave a message with Sunshine Jansen in the main office (608-262-2138) and she will ensure that Bob or Jim return your telephone calls.

Geography at UW-Madison has a long history, which provides a foundation for ongoing and future activities. A significant part of that history is a traditional strength in and commitment to Cartography (and more recently GIScience). This history, in interesting ways, provides part of the intellectual space for faculty interested in Geovisualization and related areas. In short, we welcome applications from scholars representing any area of Geovisualization and who seek to build up diverse and welcoming communities of thought in the department, on campus, nationally, and internationally. Madison is a great place to develop initiatives at a range of scales, and the university is a conducive place to host workshops, conferences, summer institutes (e.g., see a picture to the left of the 2006 Summer Institute in Economic Geography, which included a field trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum, as well as the Trek Bikes and Harley Davidson global headquarters, both located nearby in WI).

On a more practical level, Geography’s long history at UW is manifest in the State Cartographer’s Office, the UW-Madison Cartographic Laboratory, the Arthur H. Robinson Map Library, and the long-term History of Cartography Project, all located physically and administratively in the Department. Created by an act of legislature, the SCO is an outreach unit charged with gathering, maintaining, and disseminating information about mapping and geospatial data in Wisconsin. As a spatial data clearinghouse it serves a wide array of businesses, state and local agencies, and academic clients. The Cartographic Laboratory is a production cartography facility for both traditional and cutting edge products (e.g., the Campus Map).  Its customer list is international in scope, but the Lab also plays an important local role by producing maps for many UW scholars and by providing professional training for student employees. The Map Library houses about 500,000 maps and aerial photographs as well as many digital datasets. Named after the distinguished UW cartographer, the Robinson Library serves a wide variety of campus and off-campus users. The History Project is famous for its History of Cartography series, a multivolume effort chronicling cartography from pre-history through the present. Founded by the late J.B. Harley and David Woodward (emeritus Geography professor before his death), the series is now edited by a team of scholars and is published by the University of Chicago Press.

In addition to other Geography faculty, the units mentioned above should be considered as potential collaborators for applied and theoretical projects. All are tightly integrated in department life and routinely engage with faculty. There are connections to be made along teaching lines as well, given that all have significant student staffing.  Most particularly, we are committed to a tradition of turning out cartographers meeting the highest professional standards. This explains the importance of student positions as well as our requirement for applicants with a strong background in cartographic design.

Our long history has also enabled Department to incrementally build up an outstanding library within Science Hall. The library has a large collection of books, journals, and other resources, and is integrated into the overall UW-Madison library system, including Memorial Library, the principal collection of social sciences and humanities materials. Both Science Hall and Memorial Library are pictured below: Science Hall is the large red brick building to the far left of the image, while Memorial Library is the large beige building to the far right (this image is courtesy of William Cronon).

The overall campus library collection is one of the largest in North America, and includes:

  • 7.3 million printed volumes
  • 55,000 serial titles
  • 6.2 million microforms
  • 160 linear feet of manuscript collections
  • 7 million + items in other formats, including government documents, maps, musical scores, audiovisual materials, and more

Browsing through the Geography or Memorial library collections is easy as the Geography Library is on the second floor of Science Hall, while the Memorial Library is a 5 minute walk away from Science Hall, and is situated opposite the State Historical Library collection (it is the large beige building with a brown roof in the image above). The on-line catalogue also enables faculty and students to easily order books from any of the 42 libraries in the system, and have them delivered (for free) for pick-up in the Geography Library. In short the library is a wonderful resource.

Building Links at UW-Madison

If you are considering an application, it is also important to be aware of the many opportunities for forging linkages, and collaboration beyond Geography. UW-Madison is made up of several Schools and Colleges. Hundreds of units exist within these schools and colleges. Geography is part of the College of Letters and Sciences, which is made up of 39 departments, 5 professional schools, and several Centers, Programs, and Institutes that offer courses for academic credit.

UW-Madison is also a relatively interdisciplinary site of knowledge production, so a wide variety of programs, centers, institutes, and initiatives are worth exploring on-line, or if you are invited to visit the campus for an interview.

Madison, Wisconsin, USA

Madison (pictured above, courtesy of William Cronon), and to the right over top of the campus), is city of approximately 210,000 people, situated in Dane County which has approximately 450,000 people. There are four distinct seasons in Madison.

Madison is located in the Midwest of the USA, about three hours north of Chicago. Madison’s main airport – Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) – connects easily to national/international hubs in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Detroit. It takes 1.3 hours to drive to Milwaukee (eastwards), and 3-4 hours to drive southwards to Chicago, while a bus service (Van Galder) links UW-Madison directly to O’Hare Airport and downtown Chicago.

Madison’s character is strongly associated with, on a number of levels, the 42,000 students and thousands of faculty and staff who make up the university, as well as the Government of Wisconsin, and a variety of white collar industries (including credit unions, and software development firms). Given this Madison is the 3rd most “educated” (in a formal sense) city in the US after Washington DC and Boston, the unemployment rate tends to be relatively low and stable, and cultural life (especially film, music, art) is relatively vibrant given the population size. For example, see the Isthmus (a local entertainment weekly) for a broad lowdown on what is happening this week, Wisconsin Public Radio‘s excellent website, or Muzzle of Bees for insights into but one of many musical genres on offer.

Anyone living in Madison also has ample opportunity to participate in a variety of active sports (including biking, cross-country skiing, running, sailing, skating), and spectator sports (including football, hockey, baseball) in the city-region. The scale of the city means most venues or sites for activity are no more than 5-20 minutes away by car or indeed bike in the city or the region.

When thinking about the pros and cons of Madison as a potential home, here are several links that you might benefit from perusing:

This is but a brief introduction to select elements of life on and off campus. Please do not hesitate to contact any of us if you have queries about the position, the department, the university, the city-region, or the country (if you are a foreign applicant).

The Department of Geography


July 15, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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