Winning Tradition

UNBC graduate students excelled at the Western Division of Canadian Association of Geographers Conference last month at UNBC, winning awards for their student paper and poster presentations.

Tracking the Mount Polley Tailings

UNBC researchers Ellen Petticrew, Phil Owens, Stephen Déry, Sam Albers (pictured), and Nikolaus Gantner published their Quesnel Lake findings after the August 2014 Mount Polley mine breach.

Canada's Glaciers in Danger

Research by UNBC geography professor Brian Menounos projects that glaciers in western Canada will decrease in volume 70 per cent by the end of this century.

Welcome to the Geography Program

Geography Professor Catherine Nolin leads emergency delegation to Guatemala, May 2016

Dr. Nolin is in Guatemala with colleague Grahame Russell of Rights Action (and Adjunct Professor in the Geography Program) co-leading their emergency delegation to Guatemala to re-visit and update documentation on the four main mining struggles in the country. There are many ways to follow their delegation updates:

WDCAG 2016 Conference, March 2016

Thanks to all conference attendees! We enjoyed hosting such a diverse group of geographers at UNBC this past weekend. --- #WDCAG2016 Organizing Committee

UNBC Geography is a vibrant community of human & physical geographers connected to our undergraduate program & graduate students in a range of programs. We are active on social media & ask you to look for us on Facebook and Twitter.

January 2016 Announcements:

  • UNBC Geography hosting WDCAG conference, March 11-12, 2016
  • Welcome to new postdoctoral researcher Dr. Chris Darvill who recently arrived at UNBC
  • Upcoming Field Course (Geology & Geomorphology) - Deadline extended to January 15, 2016
  • Field course to Guatemala (May 2016) - cancelled due to lack of applications (Jan 15, 2016) - check back for future plans

Geography at UNBC

UNBC offers undergraduate degrees in Human (BA) and Physical (BSc) Geography. Cartography and GIScience are offered as integral components of both degrees. We offer Minors in Human Geography, Geomorphology, Geographic Information Systems, and Physical Geography.out.

The Geography Program also administers a BA in Public Administration and Community Development, which is an interdisciplinary degree for those interested in community-based governance, planning and social policy.

Why Study at UNBC?

There are many good reasons to study Geography at UNBC, but here are four that stand out:

  • We put ideas to the test of practical experience. So much of what is written in text books or policy documents looks one way on paper, but appears as something different on the ground. Geographers are especially interested in understanding and explaining how things are situated in place and time as the result of the interaction of general and particular (i.e., contingent) processes.

What is the Study of Geography?

The physical and human landscapes we occupy are complex and constantly changing. Making sense of these dynamic landscapes is what geography is all about.

Geographers offer a spatial perspective on the events, ideas and processes that shape our world. Geography is an integrative discipline, drawing upon and synthesizing a wide range of specialized knowledge in order to make sense of phenomena as it occurs on the ground.

Geography is comprised of three major sub-groups: physical geography, human geography and cartography. Physical geography is an earth science that seeks to explain the interactions of the atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere in shaping physical landscapes. Human geography is a social science that seeks to explain the influence of humans on the landscape; in other words, the spatial organization of cultural, political and economic activity. Cartography is the science of map making and spatial representation, which more recently includes the use of digital technology and geographic information science (GIScience).

  • We offer innovative and high quality learning experiences. The Geography Program at UNBC regularly offers Field Schools to intriguing places (e.g., Guatemala and South Africa). We recently offered a unique and highly successful Block Course Delivery Pilot in Human Geography that allowed students to take one course at a time in condensed three week format, rather than five courses at a time spread out over 13 weeks. Students in Physical Geography learn in a wide variety of settings, including lecture and seminar rooms, dry labs, wet labs, and by capturing data out in the field, including such places as the Quesnel River Research Centre in Likely, BC.
  • Our faculty bring their internationally-recognized research and expertise to the classroom. UNBC Geography places a high priority on faculty research. Our faculty are nationally and internationally recognized for research in things as diverse as glacial dynamics, critical development, remote sensing, Indigenous land rights, fluvial geomorphology, ecotourism, rural health care delivery, and community development. This does not mean that we treat our programs of research as something separate from our undergraduate teaching. Instead we bring the findings of our own work, as well as the latest developments in our respective fields, into our undergraduate courses. There are even opportunities in some senior level undergraduate courses for students to undertake research of their own, under the supervision of expert faculty researchers.
  • We prepare our students to understand the world around them, and to adapt and succeed in an ever-changing world. Our curricula place a high priority in providing students with a wide set of skills they can apply in an ever-changing employment market. This includes analytical methods (e.g., GIS, statistics, qualitative inquiry, research design, field measurement techniques), oral and written communication skills, critical thinking, and time management. Just as importantly, we prepare students to assemble and integrate a wide range of specialized expertise into practical knowledge that is of value to employers and clients. In an age where job titles and specializations can disappear in a flash, it is good to have a skill set that adapts well!

New Publications

Beedle, M.J*., B. Menounos, and R. Wheate. 2015. Glacier change in the Cariboo Mountains, British Columbia, Canada (1952–2005). The Cryosphere, 9, 65–80, 2015. DOI:10.5194/tc-9-65-2015. Internet: [Adjunct faculty member]

Greenwood, M. de Leeuw, S.* Lindsay, N., & Reading, C. 2015. Determinants of Indigenous Peoples' Health in Canada: Beyond the Social. UBC Press: Vancouver, BC. [*Adjunct faculty member]

Fondahl, G., V. Fillipova, and L. Mack. 2015. Indigenous peoples in the New Arctic, in The New Arctic, eds. B. Evengård, J. N. Larsen and Ø. Ravna (Berlin: Springer)

Larsen, J.N and G. Fondahl, eds. 2014. Arctic Human Development Report II: Regional Processes and Global Linkages. TemaNord 2014:567 (Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers). 500 pp.

Fondahl, G. and J.N. Larsen 2014. Introduction, in: The Second Arctic Human Development Report: Regional Processes and Global Linkages, pp. 31-54. TemaNord 2014:567 (Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers)

Larsen, J.N. and G. Fondahl 2014. Major findings and emerging issues, in The Second Arctic Human Development Report: Regional Processes and Global Linkages,  pp. 505-530. TemaNord 2014:567 (Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers)

Zirul, C*., Halseth, G., Markey, S., and Ryser, L.** 2015. Struggling with new regionalism: Government trumps governance in northern British Columbia, Canada. Journal of Rural and Community Development, 10(2): 136-165. [*Former graduate student; **UNBC Research Manager]

Manson, D., Markey, S., Ryser, L.* and Halseth, G. 2015. Recession response: Cyclical problems and local solutions in northern British Columbia. Tijdschrift voor economische en sociale geografie / Journal of Economic and Social Geography. DOI: 10.1111/tesg.12153 [*Research Manager, UNBC]

Gjertsen, T. and G. Halseth (eds.) 2014. Sustainable Development in the Circumpolar North: From Tana, Norway to Oktemtsy, Yakutia, Russia. The University of Northern British Columbia’s Community Development Institute and The University of the Arctic’s Thematic Network on Local and Regional Development in the North: Prince George, BC, November.

Hanlon, N., Skinner, M., Joseph, A., Ryser, L., and Halseth, G., 2014. Place integration through efforts to support healthy aging in British Columbia’s interior: The role of voluntary sector leadership. Health and Place 29: 132-139.

Skinner, M., Joseph, A., Hanlon, N., Ryser, L., and Halseth, G., 2014. Growing old in aging resource communities: Linking voluntarism, aging in place and community development. The Canadian Geographer 58(4): 418-428.

Hanlon, N, 2014. Commentary: Doing health geography with feeling. Social Science and Medicine 115: 144-146.

Koiter, A.J., Owens, P.N., Petticrew, E.L. and Lobb, D.A. (2015). The role of gravel channel beds on the particle size and organic matter selectivity of transported fine‐grained sediments: implications for sediment fingerprinting and biogeochemical flux studies. Journal of Soils and Sediments, 15, 2174‐2188.

Marit Heideman, Brian Menounos and John J. Clague. 2015. An 825-year long varve record from Lillooet Lake, British Columbia, and its potential as a flood proxy. Quaternary Science Reviews 1(26): 158–174. doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.08.017

Clarke, Garry K.C., A.H. Jarosch, F.S. Anslow, V. Radić & B. Menounos 2015. Projected deglaciation of western Canada in the twenty-first century. Nature Geoscience 8: 372–377. doi:10.1038/ngeo2407

L. Musotto, A. Borromei, A. Coronato, B. Menounos, G. Osborn, & R Marr. 2015. Late Pleistocene and Holocene palaeoenvironmental changes in central Tierra del Fuego (~54°S) inferred from pollen analysis. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, July. DOI: 10.1007/s00334-015-0537-8

M.S. Leggat,* P.N. Owens*, T.A. Stott, B.J. Forrester, S.J. Déry* and B. Menounos**. 2015. Hydro-meteorological drivers and sources of suspended sediment flux in the proglacial zone of the retreating Castle Creek glacier, Cariboo Mountains, British Columbia, Canada. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. DOI:10.1002/esp.3755

McSweeney, K, et al. [Nolin]. 2015. Seven Reasons to Scrap the $1 Billion Aid Package to Central America. CIP Americas Program, 30 June. 

Henderson, E., C. Nolin, and F. Peccerelli. 2014. Dignifying a bare life and making place through exhumation: Cobán CREOMPAZ former military garrison, Guatemala. Journal of Latin American Geography, 13 (2): 97-116. DOI: 10.1353/lag.2014.0027

LaPlante, JP and C. Nolin. 2014. Consultas and socially responsible investing in Guatemala: A case study examining Maya perspectives on the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent. Society & Natural Resources: An International Journal, 27 (3) March: 231-248. doi: 10.1080/08941920.2013.861554

Petticrew, E.L., S.J. Albers, S.A. Baldwin, E.C. Carmack, S.J. Déry, N. Gantner, K.E. Graves, B. Laval, J. Morrison, P.N. Owens, D.T. Selbie, and S. Vagle. 2015. The impact of a catastrophic mine tailings impoundment spill into one of North America's largest fjord lakes: Quesnel Lake, British Columbia, Canada, Geophys. Res. Lett., 42, doi:10.1002/2015GL063345