Our next featured “Geography Educator of Maryland” is Cathy Cooper. As a valued steering committee member of the Maryland Geographic Alliance, Cathy is no stranger to the field of geography. Geography education was not Cathy’s first vocation, however. Her first job after college was in London working for a British bank. Working here helped spur her interest in geography as many of her colleagues seemed to know where every place in the world was. Living in London provided the opportunity for extended travel in Europe. Cathy spent most of her career in commercial banking. Eventually she had the opportunity to take a few geography courses at Montgomery College, and she decided to pursue geography.
Cathy went on to complete her M.A. in Geography and Ph.D. in Geographic Education at George Washington University and Texas State University-San Marcos, respectively. Throughout her geography career, she has been a part of many different organizations and always looks forward to seeing her “geo-friends.” As a member of the American Association of Geographers (AAG), she has organized some bird-watching field trips during the organization’s annual meetings. Cathy also recently attended the conference for the Middle Atlantic Division of the AAG. Among the highlights was the GeoBowl, a geography knowledge competition amongst university students in the region. Cathy is looking forward to the intriguing field trips offered at the National Council for Geographic Education Conference this July in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Cathy also serves as a contributor for different publishers and academic journals. Her most recent contribution for the Journal of Geography was a review of Choptank Odyssey by Tom Horton and Dave Harp. Cathy has also written a textbook on Ukraine and continues to follow the political developments of the country. She particularly enjoys studying and writing about her home region of the Chesapeake, as evidenced by her article about Captain John Smith’s explorations of the Chesapeake Bay and the coastal bays region near Assateague Island. While Cathy is not attending conferences or writing for academic journals she is busy helping out the Maryland Geographic Alliance with outreach events for the Giant Traveling Map of Maryland (find out more about this program here).
From Cathy’s perspective, not only is geography the foundation for and gateway into a wide range of careers; it also engages students of all grade levels in building their knowledge and problem solving skills at increasing levels of complexity. Students of geography are also able to apply a spatial perspective to civic issues of varying scales – from the local to the global.
Biography: Cathy spent most of her career in commercial banking. She then picked up an interest in academic geography and earned an M.A. at George Washington University and then a Ph.D. in Geography at Texas State University-San Marcos with a concentration in Geographic Education. She is particularly enthusiastic about online GIS and encourages its use as a tool in its own right and as a gateway to entice students into the content of geography.
Read the full Q&A here.