CSULB’s Department of Geography plays host to the 2007 annual meeting of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers from Oct. 17-20, in the downtown Long Beach Hilton.
The program will feature an opening reception on Wednesday, Oct. 17, a series of field trips ending with a Cambodian dinner on Thursday, Oct. 18, paper sessions and panels on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 19-20, and conclude with a banquet the final evening.
“The department feels great about this,” said new geography chair Vincent Del Casino. “This is a good way to showcase the department’s changes and growth which have been dramatic over the last seven years.”
Conference activities include a visit to Palos Verdes, a tour of brush fire areas in the Santa Monica Mountains, a peek at the San Juan Capistrano Mission, a review of the ethnic neighborhoods of Los Angeles and Orange counties, travel to the city and the mountains, and the opportunity to stroll to the port of Long Beach for self-guided tours of the Queen Mary, the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Museum of Latin American Art.
“Hosting this conference is both a validation of our department and a service to our regional association,” said Del Casino, the first-ever recipient of the American Association of Geographers’ Glenda Laws Award. “It is a good thing to contribute to the association in this way and to maintain a place where junior faculty, graduate and undergraduate students can have an opportunity to interact in a collegial and intellectual environment.”
Del Casino expects the turnout to range between 250-300 scholars from as far away as Kentucky, Hawaii and Alaska, plus every geography department in the CSU. Paper topics will include several sessions on climate change, urban sustainability and social movements, the American West, the environment, conservation and cartography.
“Geography is a diverse field and this conference offers an opportunity to showcase that diversity,” said Del Casino. “Plus, there will be representatives from other campus disciplines such as Asian and Asian-American Studies as well as Latin American Studies.” Del Casino will organize a session on sexuality and health as well as present a paper on Viagra and how sexual pharmaceuticals have changed how society views bedrooms and bodies. “Specifically, I will look at how YouTube representations of Viagra and Cialis normatively construct and challenge a certain image of a heterosexual body,” he explained.
CSULB student involvement in the conference will be prominent.
“We encourage our geography majors to volunteer and several of our master’s candidates will make presentations,” Del Casino said. “We want to offer our students the opportunity to observe their first professional meeting.”
Geography’s goal in its conference sponsorship is to showcase the department’s dynamic growth and what it can contribute. “We’re the only geography department in the CSU that saw growth in its majors,” he said. “We’ve been doing really well. This is an opportunity to pull it all together so that our colleagues can come here and get an idea of what we’re doing.”
One of the department’s greatest strengths is the breadth of its interests.
“We cover the world, from Southeast Asia to Russia, Europe and America,” he said. “This diversity is one of the reasons students are attracted here. Some like the eclecticism whole others see how our majors do in the job market.”
Del Casino encourages university and community attendance. “This conference offers a unique opportunity to engage with people doing similar types of work in a relatively small environment,” he said. “That’s what is nice about regional conferences. They are much less pretentious than their national and international versions. They have a workshop feel to them. There is camaraderie in trying to develop knowledge and understanding in non-confrontational ways.”