America's Geographer' to speak at Mercyhurst Jan. 10

Dr. Harm de Blij, author, geography professor and television personality, will speak at the Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center at Mercyhurst College Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 8:15 p.m. 

For seven years, de Blij was the popular geography editor at ABC's "Good Morning America." In 1996, he joined NBC News as geography analyst, appearing mostly onMSNBC. He was a writer and commentator for the original PBS series "The Power of Place."

His talk is free to the public. He will take questions from the audience following his prepared remarks. Afterwards, he will sign books at the Cummings Art Gallery. The Mercyhurst bookstore will sell books by de Blij in the lobby before and after the event.

The Mercyhurst Institute of Geography Education is arranging de Blij's Erie visit through a college academic enrichment grant.

Born in the Netherlands, de Blij has a unique range of educational experiences. He received his early schooling in Europe (part of it during World War II as recounted in his memoir "Wartime Encounter."), his college education in Africa and his higher degrees in the United States. His scholarly work has been recognized through honorary degrees awarded by Marshall, Rhode Island College, Grand Valley State University, North Carolina University and Michigan State University.

He has published more than 30 books, including scientific, educational and trade titles and more than 100 articles. His most recent trade book, "Why Geography Matters," argues that America’s persistent geographic illiteracy constitutes a national security risk. His textbook, "Geography: Realms, Regions and Concepts," has exceeded 1 million copes in 12 editions since 1970. 

De Blij specializes in geopolitical and environmental issues, and has held named chairs at Georgetown University, Marshall University, and the Colorado School of Mines. He is currently Distinguished Professor of Geography at Michigan State University, where he also taught during the 1960s. 

His advocacy of geography in the media and on the public lecture circuit has taken de Blij to virtually all corners of the United States. His work in research, teaching and television has spanned the globe. In 1994, National Geographic Society President Gilbert Grosvenor appointed de Blij an honorary life member of the society. 

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