“Why Geography” Series Presents: Kristie Olson ’21 Posted on November 20th, 2020 by

1.Why did you choose to major in Geography?

Coming to college I knew two things, I wanted to help people from a structural level and that I enjoyed science, but I was not good at biology/chem/physics. I knew I was passionate about the environment and people, but that was about it. So, I took some sociology classes and joined some environmental sustainability clubs. I was pretty much an absolute mess not knowing what I wanted to study and definitely did not realize there was a major that could encompass ALL my passions. It wasn’t until I had a work shift with Taylor Wicklund ‘18 that I even knew about geography. I told her my passions and interests for life to which she responded “WELL..do I have a major for you…”. I then signed up for a couple of geography courses, met some inspiring students also majoring in Geography, (shoutout Quincy Yangh, James Miller and Tori Franciosi +upperclassmen) went in to talk about a potential major with Joaquín and ended up leaving with a declaration for a geography major.

2. To what extent your geography education has already transformed how you view and act on the world?

Geography has extended my worldview immensely. Prior to college, I had never thought about anything spatially or why it matters. Geography is able to answer the questions of space/place, why populations end up where they are, how land is political and highly constructed and then proposes beneficial ways to interpret the world. These are literally the foundations of life and I couldn’t imagine trying to understand anything about this fickle world without thinking about the landscape of a geographical space.

3. Beyond coursework, what other experiences have enriched your geography education?

Geography is a beneficial way to interpret life and all of its wonders. I use geographical thinking pretty much every day and I think this benefits my self-education that I will be able to use my entire life. There is value in learning and understanding that is not inherently academic. Because of this continual practice, I am able to help my peers and friends interpret confusions in a larger way. I have also found some awesome accessible resources on Instagram which I will now plug. Black Geographers is an amazing organization that uplifts BIPOC geographers while promoting geography as a discipline. No discipline of academia or thought is free from the westernized, colonized worldview however, I would argue that geography has done more progressive work with understanding those disparities (still needs work though). World Urban Planning provides BEAUTIFUL aerial images and prints along with informational descriptions that encompass history, geography and planning. Lastly, Planner Under the Influence is a group based in Melbourne that has a podcast about all things urban planning.

4. What will make the world a better place and where do you see yourself in five years?

I think that the world needs to understand that humans can re-analyze, re-shape and re-develop how we live. Everything that has been created, is a dictation of geography in the mind of human thought that is then translated into legal jargon, culture of society and social norms. The physical world doesn’t listen to “this is the border” that separates x and y. It doesn’t send out forms and statements saying you don’t belong here, or you can if you pay $$$ to this space. Earth is a beautiful creation that has natural systems that we need to listen to, replenish and care for. In five years, maybe I will be going to grad school for planning. I want to work specifically in the realm that advocates and plans for permanent implementation of green space and urban agriculture into the city landscape. I also have a passion for the geographies of adoption specifically transnational adoption in relation to mental health services so maybe I could do something there. Most importantly, I want to work for the people of the land in hopes to be a voice and force for the marginalized populations. Whether this be in greenscapes, housing, resource allocation etc., whatever it may be, I just want to make a difference.


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