Alumni Story: Alex de Sherbinin '84 Leads Spatial Analysis at Columbia University

Geography has been the "guiding star" for most of my career, which has focused on human interactions with the environment. After Dartmouth I entered the Peace Corps (Mauritania) with an interest in agricultural geography (I served as an irrigated rice extension agent), but I ended up switching to population geography during graduate school at Syracuse. I went on to work at the Population Reference Bureau for six years, then lucked out and got a USAID fellowship to work at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) near Geneva, Switzerland. After 3 1/2 years in Switzerland I moved to New York to accept a job at CIESIN, a center at Columbia University dedicated to spatial data analysis and data dissemination, which is now a part of the new Climate School. So, ironically, I moved from the last Ivy League school to have a geography department to one of the Ivys that eliminated geography during the academic fiscal crises of the 1980s. We're doing our best to revive geography at Columbia, and hope to organize an event later in 2023 with Dartmouth '86 Alex Tait of the National Geographic Society on Geography's Contributions to Climate Solutions. It has been a fun ride and I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Vince Malmstrom, Bob Huke, Laura Conkey and others at Dartmouth Geography who so deeply loved the discipline and passed that love on to me. I leave with this quote from George Perkins Marsh, Dartmouth class of 1820:

"Man has too long forgotten that the earth was given to him for usufruct alone, not for consumption, still less for profligate waste. Nature has provided against the absolute destruction of any of her elementary matter... But she has left it within the power of man irreparably to derange the combinations of inorganic matter and of organic life."

- George Perkins Marsh, Man and Nature (1864, p.34)