Roger Downs

Introduction

Roger M. Downs is Professor of Geography and former Head of the Department of Geography at The Pennsylvania State University. He teaches undergraduate courses in human geography, human spatial behavior, and urban geography, and graduate courses in research design and geography education. His research interests include the development of spatial thinking and spatial literacy, the history of geography education, and the design of curricula for geography and spatial thinking. His work on the development of our knowledge about the world focuses on the interplay among the developing mind, the environment, and the process of education. Currently, he is studying (1) the roots of geography (how and why some people become geographers); (2) the development of expertise (how and why spatial/logical abilities interact with experience); (3) the differential development of expertise (how and why gender interacts with geography); and (4) the development of graphic comprehension (how and why we learn to read the world through media). He has been involved in the development of the National Geography Standards and in the NAEP Geography Assessments of 1994 and 2001. He is Chair of the Geography Education National Implementation Committee (GENIP), former Chair of the Geographical Science Committee of the National Research Council, a member of the 2010 NAEP Geography Development Committee, and a member of the Board on Earth Science and Resources of the National Research Council.

Research Interests

  • behavioral
  • environmental cognition
  • geography education

Education

  • Ph.D., University of Bristol, 1970
  • B.A., University of Bristol, 1966

Advisees

Jennifer Adams, Ph.D. (current)

Jennifer Collymore, Ph.D. (current)

Andrei Israel, Ph.D. (current)

Jodi Vender, Ph.D. (current)

Courses Taught

  • GEOG 020U
  • GEOG 301
  • GEOG 502

Publications

  • Downs, R. M. (forthcoming) “Cognition and Cartography.”  The History of Cartography, Volume 6, Cartography in the Twentieth Century, edited by Mark Monmonier (expected publication in 2012)
  • Downs, R. M. (forthcoming) “Richard Edes Harrison.”  The History of Cartography, Volume 6, Cartography in the Twentieth Century, edited by Mark Monmonier (expected publication in 2012)
  • Downs, R. M. and Liben, L. S. (forthcoming)  “Map Use Skills”  The History of Cartography, Volume 6, Cartography in the Twentieth Century, edited by Mark Monmonier (expected publication in 2012)
  • Downs, R. M. and Gallagher, S. (forthcoming) Geography for Life: The National Geography Standards 2010.  Washington, DC: The National Council for Geographic Education.
  • Downs, R. M. (2010) “Popularization and Geography: An Inseparable Relationship.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 100 (1), 444-467.
  • Downs, R. M. (2010) “The Shapes of Our World.” The NAMTA Journal, 35 (3), 87-99.
  • Committee on Support for Thinking Spatially, National Research Council (2006) Learning to Think Spatially: GIS as a Support System in the K-12Curriculum. The National Academies Press: Washington D.C. (Committee chair and principal co-author with Anthony de Souza)
  • National Geographic Society (2006) Collegiate Atlas of the World. National Geographic Society: Washington, DC. (Coordinating editor)

Awards

  • Matthew J. and Anne C. Wilson Teaching Award, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University, 1975.
  • O'Connor Chair of American Institutions, Colgate University, 1976.
  • Annual Reginald G. and Allison L. Golledge Lecture, University of California, Santa Barbara, May 1992
  • George J. Miller Distinguished Service Award, National Council for Geographic Education, 1995.
  • Distinguished Geography Educator Award, The National Geographic Society, 1996.
  • Gilbert M.. Grosvenor Award, The Association of American Geographers, 1997.
  • Milton S. Eisenhower Distinguished Teaching Award, The Pennsylvania State University, 2000.
  • Distinguished Geographer Award, The Pennsylvania Geographic Society, 2004.
  • Gosnell Senior Faculty Scholar, College of Earth & Mineral Science, The Pennsylvania State University, 2007--2010