urban geographer
On Being a Geographer

I am a geographer, with interests in urban politics, questions of ecology and sustainability, and the globally variegated production of urban landscapes.

If you are reading this because you contemplating spending time in a geography department for the first time, it may be that the discipline isn't what you think it is. Geography is about synthesis, bringing together social and physical insights through a spatial lens.

Geography is cognate with urban studies, planning, sociology, environmental studies/science, ecology, climatology, geology, various versions of biology, and more. My advice to you is that if you are thinking seriously about geography as a discipline for you, it may be worth your time to also look at one or more of the above. This isn't because I don't believe in geography--I love being a geographer! It is because I think that the key word in the brief definition above is synthesis, and it turns out that some people are happier when their energy is focused in only one of the areas above. Geography is about finding the insights hidden in their juxtaposition.

Are you the sort of person who loves bringing different insights together? Are you excited when very different kinds of problems (like, say, the patterns of skyscraper development, animal behavior, and the root systems of trees) turn out to be deeply linked? If so, you may like geography. Do you like maps? Are you the sort of person who sees a map on the New York Times website and wishes it included more kinds of data? If so, then geography may be a good fit for you.

My own research explores how informal land use regulation shapes the day-to-day practices of urban residents, as well as how the politics of urban place-making shape siting decisions. The ultimate goal of this research is to better understand the relationship between urban politics and differentially sustainable outcomes for cities and their inhabitants. More information is available in a section on research projects.

Information about my past and current roles as an educator and mentor is available. My professional history describes my academic foci over the past several years and recent publishing history.

Please feel free to be in touch. I can be reached via email at:
my first name {at} joe pierce {dot} org.

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