Casey Allen mentors students on campus and in the field

Casey Allen, who earned his PhD in geography at ASU in 2008, was honored recently by the University of Colorado (Denver) with two awards for his teaching in the Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences.

In the spring of 2014, Allen received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the University of Colorado’s (Denver) College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The previous year Allen earned the Outstanding Student Mentor Award from the university’s Research and Creative Activities Symposium.

Discussing his approach to teaching, Allen said he focuses on field experience as a tool for students to absorb complex knowledge. He said he views students as the center of academic life and aims to incorporate their input into planning course fieldwork.

“Students always benefit from getting outside the classroom, and my feedback has shown that students consistently appreciate--and want more—fieldwork,” Allen said.

Allen leads international and domestic fieldwork trips and said that he hopes to get students excited about different aspects of geography through fieldwork. 

“In terms of my international field study programs, students continually state that they learn far more in that intense, short-term, field-based class than in an entire semester of in-class assignments,” said Allen.  

In addition to winning recognition for his teaching, Allen has also been active in publishing.

In 2014, he published Geomorphological Fieldwork, which is the eighteenth volume in the series “Developments in Earth Surface Processes.”

He is also currently working on a new book project entitledLandscape and Landforms of the Lesser Antilles. Allen said that the book, which is scheduled for completion in 2016 as part of the “World Geomorphological Landscapes” series, will offer a definitive guide to the landscape and geomorphology of the region. 

When he is not teaching or researching, Allen handles several administrative and advising responsibilities. He serves as the coordinator of undergraduate advising for his department and as a faculty sponsor for the university’s Gamma Theta Upsilon chapter, an international geography honor society. Allen also works with the EDGE (Everyday Geographical Experiences) club, an organization that promotes networking, field trips, community building, and leadership for GIS and geography students and alumni through hands-on activities.

Allen, whose work at ASU concentrated on bio-geomorphology, critical physical geography, geo-ed, and rock decay, encourages students to pursue an array of experiences in their study of geography.

“Network. Get to know people outside of your specialty,” Allen said when asked about his words of wisdom for aspiring geographers. 

He also emphasized the importance of students getting down in the dirt.

“Do fieldwork,” Allen said. “Ground-truthing is essential to geography,” he added.

Allen said he plans to continue his efforts to inspire upcoming geographers through instruction focused on fieldwork.