Roger Downs

Roger Downs

Email: 
Phone: 
814-865-1915
Office Address: 
312B Walker Building
Title: 
Professor
Honors Advisor
Endowed Title: 
E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Professorship
Unit: 
Department of Geography

Expertise: 
  • spatial cognition
  • cognitive development
  • geography education
  • behavioral geography

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.