Geography meets Humanities

Welcome to Geography meets Humanities


Wednesday, November 13, 2019 | 3:00 PM – 8:30 PM

MSR 130, California State University, Stanislaus
Bilingual (English and Spanish) sessions
Free and open to public – Complimentary Parking in Lot 11

Download printer-friendly flyer

The American Association of Geographers (AAG) has always been supportive of transciplinary research. Ten years ago, the AAG held a Symposium on Geography and Humanities and in 2015 launched a new journal - GeoHumanities - providing a new venue for transdisciplinary scholarship. The exposition of geography as a discipline, key concepts such as space, place, landscape, mapping, geographic information systems (GIS), and others have capture the popular imagination and have boosted academia reaching a broader audience which in turn has been making progress not only in geography but also in the humanities. The Geography program at Stanislaus States is committed to contribute to the dissemination of transdisciplinary work, specifically the relationship between the humanities and geography.

Geography meets Humanities will take place on  Wednesday, November 13, 2019 in MSR 130 at Stanislaus State where a series of speakers will share their work on wide range of topics including, fair trade, the role of big data and GIS in social activism, and inequalities among others. The public will have the opportunity to learn about historical developments of social, economic, and political disparities of the presented cases and ask questions and reflect on the importance of the humanities and geography in a bilingual (English and Spanish) environment, free and open to public.

This event exposes the public to the value of transdisciplinary work - in this case, the humanities and geography - as well as its application not just in academia but also in everyday life. The audience will have the opportunity to experience shared history of civic participation and think about the importance and wide range of the humanities and how it is intertwine to the speakers' careers and to geography.

The Geography Program at Stanislaus State celebrates the Geography Awareness Week on Wednesday, November 13, 2019 (during GIS Day). In addition, CASA | the Center for Applied Spatial Analysis's grand opening takes place during this day. The organization of this event co-sponsored by California Humanities has supported a project director and two humanities experts:

Dr. José R. Díaz-Garayúa (Ph.D. Geography, Kent State University), Assistant Professor of Geography, is the Project Director for this events. He is a broadly trained human geographer. His research interests spin around inequalities and how it relates to race, ethnicity, and place among others.  Dr. Díaz-Garayúa is co-director of CASA | the Center for Applied Spatial Analysis at Stanislaus State.


Dr. Shannon Stevens (Ph.D. Communication Studies, University of Minnesota) is one of the Humanities Experts for this event. She is co-author of The Misogynistic Backlash to Women-Strong Films. She teaches visual communication and journalism ar Stanislaus States. Her creative works include the university newspaper The Signal. In addition, Dr. Stevens leads the central Valley Politics, a podcast program.

Dr. Brenda L. Ortiz Loyola (Ph.D. Modern Languages, UCLA) is one of the Humanities Experts for this event. Her work focuses on Latin American and Latino Literature and Cultural Studies. Dr. Ortiz Loyola has taught the course Cuban Culture through Fiction and Film at the University of Louisville. In addition, she has served in the Latin American Film Festival of the University of Louisville. Dr. Ortiz Loyola has taught the course Latino Diaspora for the Ethnic Studies Program and teaches for the Program of Modern Languages at Stanislaus State and the Department of Literature & Language Arts at Modesto Junior College.


Michelle Aguilar (M.A. Social Documentation, UC Santa Cruz) is a documentary filmmaker, committed to social equality and fair representation of marginalized populations. Her work reflects her relationship as filmmaker and those being filmed representing the trust, commitment, and reverence she establishes with those who share their story. Her films are done to connect people, alleviating ethnocentrism, and providing visual and narrative evidence to help people explore the idea of social change.

Dr. Kevin Butler (Ph.D. Geography, Kent State University) is Product Engineer on ESRI's Analysis and Geoprocessing Team working as a liaison to the science community. He has worked on strategic projects, partnering with customers and other members of the science community to assist in the development of large econolgical information products such as the ecological land units, ecological marine units, and ecological coastal units. His research interest focuses on spatial statistical analytical workflows and a methodological emphasis on spatial clustering techniques.

Sophia Garcia (B.A. Environmental Studies, Wellesley College) is a GIS Analyst for the Dolores Huerta Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the pursuit of social justice in disadvantaged communities. She is part of a new team helping the foundation move towards the utilization of big data and maps to enhance the work of Dolores Huerta Foundation. She is member of theinaugural Social Justice and Equity Committee within URISA, and is the Social Media Coordinator for Women in GIS.

Michael Contreras (M.S. Geography, University of Akron) is a geographer and product engenieer on ESRI's 3D analysis with over a decade of experience. Currently, Michael works as the Lead 3D Product engineer at the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI). When he is no traveling the world, he is working on making software to help solve real-world problems. In his free time, Michael's hobbies are computing gaming animation and coffee production among others.

Vanessa Lopez-Asaah (MSW, Social Work, Stanislaus State) is a therapist that provides home-based services to mothers who are pregnant or parenting babies less than 2 year of age. She has been very supportive of the community not just from her work but also through her volunteer. She started volunteering at the age of 15, fundraising money and making meals for homeless. She has volunteer in multiple cultural initiatives to promote health and wellbeing to Spanish Speaking individuals. In addition, she facilitates a  meditation group in Spanish.

Gene Barrera (MCRP, Housing and Community Development, UC Berkeley) is GIS Manager for the county of Merced. He is aforward leaning strategic planner in geospatial technology implementation for local government and academic institutions. Gene is a lecturer at Stanislaus State and provides instructions on the intersection between academic based learning and the practical applications of GIS and provides venues for students to engage in the practical application of GIS supporting County projects.

Victoria Martinez (B.A. Geography, Stanislaus State) has worked as an intern for the Tuolumne River Trust (TRT) through the Water Resources Experiential Learning for the USDA Careers Grant. She assisted in monitoring water along the Tuolumne River. In her senior year, Victoria was part of Gene Barrera's course Planning Issues (GEOG 4930) having the opportunity to further develop her skills as geographer. Victoria has presented for the Merced County and the California Geographical Society. 

Analisa Zamora (MPH, Health Management and Policy, Benedictine University University) is a health educator that help to empower community members and organizations to take collective, strategic action for social change (laws, ordinancesm environmental changes) that lead to health equity. I greatly enjoy working with communities to create and implement programs that increase opportunities to make healthy choices, such as tobacco-free spaces and access to fresh foods. 


12:00 – 2:50 PM CASA | Center for Applied Spatial Analysis
Open House – Library Annex LX 3.2
2:00 PM CASA | Opening Ceremony
3:00 – 3:30 PM Michael Contreras, M.S.
Using 3D and GIS in Real-World Scenarios
3:30 – 4:00 PM Kevin Butler, Ph.D.
Quantifying patterns of particulate matter (PM2.5)
4:00 – 4:30 PM Gene Barrera, MCRP
Serving those with access and functional needs
4:30 – 5:00 PM Victoria Martinez, B.A.
Geographical Analysis and Environmental (In)Justice
5:00 – 6:00 PM Poster Session
6:00 – 6:30 PM Vanessa Lopez-Asaah, MSW, ACSW
The landscape of maternal mental health
6:30 – 7:00 PM Analisa Zamora, MPH
Creating healthy neighborhoods as a community
7:00 – 7:30 PM Sophia Garcia, B.A.
Participatory GIS: Census, Redistricting & Power
7:30 – 8:30 PM Michelle Aguilar, M.A.
Screening of documentary: El Cacao

with support from:

California Humanities A State of Open Mind

This project, Geography meets Humanities: A Focus on Social Justice, was made possible with support from California Humanities,  a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit