World Human Geography Conference 2011

September 15, 16 and 17, 2011, Lawrence, Kansas

Sponsored by the American Geographical Society with Haskell Indian Nations University, The University of Kansas, and the U.S. Army Research Office

Concept and Intent

The conference addressed thematic, research, and professional issues in human geography and allied social and natural sciences.

The main theme of “Communities and Ethics” was discussed, encompassing groupings from local communities to global entities, including government institutions, academia, the public domain private organizations.

Working within communities inevitably involves ethical issues. The conference provided a forum for sharing research findings related to these critical concerns impacting peoples and places worldwide. These included:

  • Community-based research methodologies;
  • The ethics of funding sources;
  • The nature and accessibility of open-source research in the digital age.

Drawing on traditions and customs that inform indigenous discourse and learning at Haskell Indian Nations University, we encouraged an honest, open and respectful discussion that is too often absent in public life today.

The World Human Geography Conference 

The conference coincided with the mission of the American Geographical Society: linking individuals from government, business and academia to focus on how understanding geography can help understanding and solutions of challenging questions. The pioneering conference brought people from many backgrounds including Brian McClendon from Google Earth, a number of academics from a range of Universities,  indigenous/ tribal individuals and Governmental agencies such as the U.S. Department of Defense, to share their research methodologies, potential ethical and funding difficulties and the changing nature of field research in the digital age.


The conference encouraged collaboration and communication among the attendees as they tackled the highly controversial issue of how to learn about foreign cultures and communities ethically. Differences of opinion were taken in the spirit of constructive criticism and positive recommendation. The conference allowed for great insights and opinions from those from vastly different backgrounds and experiences. A notable aspect of the two day conference was its energy and enthusiasm, with conversation exciting and continuing well after the conference had concluded.

The intimate nature of the event was not only invaluable to the attendees but also to the students who moderated sessions. The conference produced great conversation and vibrancy and showed that regardless of point of view, everyone present expressed a shared love of the geography.