Engaging communities

A breathtaking sunset graces Goose Island, an important place for the Heiltsuk First Nation, one of the many communities in which members of our department work.

Our Geography Department endeavours to maintain its commitment to the many, varied communities that comprise it, including faculty (full-time, adjunct, emeriti, and sessional), staff, graduate students, undergraduate students, and alumni.

In addition, our departmental members have multiple commitments to external communities, be they on our UVic campus, or in our city, region, nation, or overseas.

Often, such engagement is a challenging process as we seek to understand and mediate disparate and sometimes conflicting community goals.

This is the essence of much of our commitment as geographers - to seek the best in our communities and to offer our knowledge to assist in building sound communities.

Often, our research and academic pursuits will focus much of our attention inward to very specialized and specific academic pursuits, but all members of our UVic Geography "family" are encouraged to extend our knowledge and excitement about geography into the larger, external community.

Starting with our undergraduate geography course union, the Society of Geography Students, and including our alumni, graduate students, faculty, and staff, we seek to promote geography as an excellent medium for building community.

Through the auspices of the university's Speakers Bureau or through informal student groups, such as our undergraduate initiative, Geographers-In-Schools, we seek to both educate and entertain with our geography presentations, speakers, seminars, and workshops.

Community mapping is a graphic learning, development, and planning tool that connects people to one another and their home places.

Community maps are the collective representations of geography and landscape, and community mapping is the process to create such representations. It also tells the stories of what is happening right now and what may happen in the future.

The Department of Geography has facilitated, supported, or participated in a number of printed and interactive online community green map projects since 1999. To hear about the projects or to get involved, have a look at the UVic Community Mapping Collaboratory website.

Community-based research is committed to conducting research with community, instead of on it, whereby the research process becomes as important as the results. Here community is understood as either bound by interests or by geography.

The research unfolds new dimensions and perspectives of social and spatial power relations, not always evident in the product itself, and the praxis contributes to the empowerment of the participants. Community members become the leaders of investigation, and through the process can create their own solutions for change.

It is a learning process for all participants, and it builds new skills and capacity to make decisions, engage, interact, and build relationships.