June 29, 2022

Steve Hanna: Map Man

At the University of Mary Washington, geography majors don’t just learn in the classroom. They actually DO geography.

Professor of Geography Steve Hanna, seen here during a 2018 interview for ‘With Good Reason’ radio, is the co-author of a new book, 'Remembering Enslavement: Reassembling the Southern Plantation Museum,' released by University of Georgia Press earlier this week. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

Professor of Geography Steve Hanna, seen here during a 2018 interview for ‘With Good Reason’ radio, is the co-author of a new book, ‘Remembering Enslavement: Reassembling the Southern Plantation Museum,’ released by University of Georgia Press earlier this week. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

It’s a pride point for Professor Steve Hanna, who began teaching at Mary Washington a quarter century ago, drawn here because of his strong belief in the value of a public liberal arts education, with lots of hands-on learning opportunities.

“Our classes get students out into the world – both virtually and physically – where they explore cultural landscapes and collect data about the natural environment and the people who live there,” said Hanna, who earned his own degrees from Massachusetts’ Clark University and the universities of Vermont and Kentucky.

Almost a decade ago, Hanna and faculty collaborators from across the country received a three-year National Science Foundation grant to study – and hopefully change – how Southern plantations tell the story of enslaved people. Together, they’ve published a new book, Remembering Enslavement: Reassembling the Southern Plantation Museum, released by University of Georgia Press earlier this week.

Hanna's new book, co-authored with colleagues across the country, based on years of research he conducted with faculty collaborators and his students.

Hanna’s new book, co-authored with colleagues across the country, based on years of research he conducted with faculty collaborators and his students.

The group’s sole cartographer, Hanna and his colleagues did narrative mapping at 15 antebellum museums in Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia. Eight of his students – now UMW alums – were there every step of the way, capturing and interpreting tours, and surveying visitors at each site.

“As a country, we unfortunately have a racial history that has excluded major parts of the narrative at these museums and other commemorative sites,” said Hanna, who was awarded UMW’s Waple Professorship in 2016 for his work. “Mapping suggests new ways these stories can be told,” he added.

Their findings were featured in a Journal of Heritage Tourism article, which won Hanna and his collaborators the prestigious Zumkehr Prize for Scholarship in Public Memory.

The research also attracted the attention of staff at Montpelier, home to James Madison. Before COVID hit, Hanna and another set of UMW students studied the Virginia presidential plantation and three others: Mount Vernon, Monticello and Highland. They shared their results and recommendations on how each site could better incorporate stories about slavery into their exhibits and tours.

“We found that visitors not only said they learned more about enslaved people when they were included in the narrative,” Hanna said, “but that they also felt more empathy toward them.”

Q: What do you tell students who are considering majoring in geography at UMW?
A: You’ll develop marketable skills in mapping, geospatial analysis, remote sensing, and qualitative and quantitative research. Our alums have excelled in careers in planning, geographic information systems, teaching and more. Many also earn our Master of Science in Geospatial Analysis degree – and we’re adding an undergraduate major in that area next year.

Q: What’s your favorite thing in your office?
A: A photo of me with three of my research students.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
A: Sailing, walking around downtown Fredericksburg and dining at local restaurants.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I’m a member of the handbell choir at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg.

Q: What do you like best about the UMW campus?
A: The fountain in front of Monroe Hall, which is labeled “The Fountain of Greatness” on Google Maps.

Geography Grad Earns EPA ‘Rising Star’ Award

Growing up, Kaitlin Kean spent mornings before school in her father’s office, poring over maps and watching him collect data as a land surveyor. “That’s where I first learned about the field and that it was something I wanted to pursue,” said Kean, who now claims her own office where she wields sought-after expertise in […]

Farnsworth, Hanna and Seltzer Present Research Paper on Virginia Politics

Professor of Political Science Stephen Farnsworth

Professor of Political Science Stephen Farnsworth

Professor of Geography Stephen Hanna

Professor of Geography Stephen Hanna

Stephen Farnsworth, professor of Political Science and director of the University’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies, Stephen P. Hanna, professor of Geography, and Kate Seltzer, a 2021 graduate of UMW with degrees in Political Science and in Communication and Digital Studies, are coauthors of a research paper entitled, “Declining Rural Influence in Virginia Politics: Comparing Mark Warner’s 2001 and 2020 Elections,” which was presented recently at the Northeastern Political Science Association [online].

Farnsworth and Hanna also penned an editorial with UMW political science major Cassandra Atkinson for The Free Lance-Star: Youngkin proves the political virtues of vanilla.

Dr. Farnsworth also commented on the following news stories:

How critical race theory went from conservative battle cry to mainstream powder keg (Yahoo)

Youngkin tests activists’ patience as he pushes abortion and guns aside (The Washington Post; WV News)

Stafford County’s local government went from red to purple. Is it the next phase of N. Va.’s ‘blue wave’? (The Washington Post)

What could Glenn Youngkin as governor actually do to alter admissions at TJ? (The Washington Post; msn.com)

Opinion: In Virginia, dial ‘C’ for ‘crisis’ (The Washington Post)

Democrats face tumultuous process to get massive social spending package passed (Fox News)

2021 Political Roundtable: Surfing Va.’s red wave (Virginia Business)

Will The Tea Party Of 2022 Emerge From The Debate Over Schools? Virginia Election Offers GOP Template For Midterms (Virginia Patch)

VIRGINIA — Youngkin Pledged More Parental Control of Education, But Changes May Prove Difficult (T74)

Steve Bannon Indicted by Grand Jury (CTV News)

Edwards vows to stay on (Cardinal News)

Three Amigos Summit: US Protectionism at Centre (CP24)

Trudeau in Washington (CTV News)

 

Hanna’s Plantation Museum Research Featured in Northern Virginia Magazine

Professor of Geography Stephen Hanna

Professor of Geography Stephen Hanna

Professor of Geography Steve Hanna’s work to encourage Virginia presidential plantation museums to recognize and share the stories of enslaved people was featured in an article in Northern Virginia Magazine.

Do plantation museums do justice to the memory of the enslaved? Local professor Stephen Hanna wanted to find out, so in 2014 he joined a team of researchers associated with TourismRESET, a world-wide network of scholars who study and challenge social inequity in tourism.

Hanna, who teaches geography at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, received a grant from the National Science Foundation, enabling him to lead undergraduate students through multi-year research on how narratives and exhibits about enslaved populations and slavery were presented or absent at 15 different plantation sites. The goal was to present their findings to museum managers and thus facilitate more historically accurate and meaningful tours. His team is in the final stages of publishing a book summarizing their data and findings, to be released in March 2022. Read more.

UMW Student Lands Competitive Library of Congress Fellowship

History has been a part of Matthew Bova’s life for as long as he can remember. In fact, even longer. The UMW junior’s parents met when they were both historical interpreters at Claude Moore Colonial Farm. “I feel fortunate to have grown up in an area so rich in history,” said Bova, an Arlington, Virginia, […]

Connections Steer Geography Grad Toward New Tech Job

In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, 2020 grad James Fendley secured a job – a month before earning his degree – at a D.C.-based data analytics firm owned by Jonathan Steenberg ’14.

In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, 2020 grad James Fendley secured a job – a month before earning his degree – at a D.C.-based data analytics firm owned by Jonathan Steenberg ’14.

For his first virtual interview, James Fendley paired a freshly pressed shirt and tie with basketball shorts and asked his family for an hour of quiet. But the best preparation came from UMW’s Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD).

Throughout his final semester, the 2020 University of Mary Washington graduate scheduled regular phone calls with the Center’s career counselors, who are charged with guiding students and recent grads toward employment, even during COVID-19.

“With each appointment, my résumé improved,” Fendley said. “Seeing my progress kept me motivated and helped me stay on track.”

His perseverance paid off. A month before he earned his degree, Fendley secured a job at a D.C.-based data analytics firm owned by 2014 alum Jonathan Steenberg. They’re two in a long line of UMW geography majors hired right out of college, thanks to solid programs, strong connections between faculty and students, and an active alumni network. Often landing employment in D.C.’s tech corridor, graduates of the program are the highest paid in the nation for the field, according to College Factual, which also recently ranked Mary Washington’s geography department No. 1 in the Southeast. Read more.

Connections Steer Geography Grad Toward New Job

For his first virtual interview, James Fendley paired a freshly pressed shirt and tie with basketball shorts and asked his family for an hour of quiet. But the best preparation came from UMW’s Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD). Throughout his final semester, the 2020 University of Mary Washington graduate scheduled regular phone calls […]

Hanna’s Journal Article Wins ‘Public Memory’ Award

UMW Professor of Geography Steve Hanna, seen here during a 2018 interview for ‘With Good Reason’ radio, was the lead author on a journal article that won the prestigious Zumkehr Prize for Scholarship in Public Memory. Hanna’s research involves ‘narrative mapping’ applied at Southern plantation museums to determine how the South tells its story about slavery. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

UMW Professor of Geography Steve Hanna, seen here during a 2018 interview for ‘With Good Reason’ radio, was the lead author on a journal article that won the prestigious Zumkehr Prize for Scholarship in Public Memory. Hanna’s research involves ‘narrative mapping’ applied at Southern plantation museums to determine how the South tells its story about slavery. Photo by Karen Pearlman.

As visitors to Southern plantation homes know, the information they receive depends on docents and the questions they’re asked, and by where on the site the group is congregated. In the parlor, for instance, tour-takers might hear about the residents’ family history and the placement of furniture. Outside, they will likely learn more about crops and, perhaps, the lives of enslaved people who labored in the fields.

The process of capturing and interpreting these variations is called “narrative mapping,” said UMW Geography Professor Stephen Hanna, whose research with colleagues at other universities aims to determine – and eventually change – how the South tells its story of slavery.

Hanna and his co-researchers applied the process to 170 tours at 15 different plantation museums. The results from two of those antebellum sites, Louisiana’s Laura Plantation and Virginia’s Berkeley Plantation, formed an article, published in the Journal of Heritage Tourism that won the prestigious Zumkehr Prize for Scholarship in Public Memory.

The honor would not have been possible, Hanna said, without years’ worth of help from Mary Washington students.

“They contributed their ideas, hard work and energy to the project” from 2014 to 2017, said Hanna, who served as the article’s lead author and who, as the team’s only cartographer, designed the method for graphically presenting the results. “My work with the students has become my favorite memories of my time at UMW.” Read more.

Gallagher Receives Topher Bill Service Award

Jackie Gallagher, associate professor of geography, is this year's Topher Bill Service Award recipient.

Jackie Gallagher, associate professor of geography, is this year’s Topher Bill Service Award recipient.

Jackie Gallagher, associate professor of geography at the University of Mary Washington, has been recognized with the J. Christopher (Topher) Bill Outstanding Faculty Service Award for her contributions to UMW and her involvement and leadership in the greater community. The award was presented at the University’s opening faculty meeting on Monday, August 19.

Announcing the award, Parrish Waters, chair of the Sabbaticals, Fellowships and Faculty Awards Committee and assistant professor of biology, said Gallagher has shown a remarkable dedication to UMW students and faculty as well as the Fredericksburg community.

“[Dr. Gallagher] has worked for years to establish meaningful relationships with local K-12 schools that introduce students and educators to the tools and curriculum of her discipline and foster intellectual excitement for this material. Her engagement in community service extends beyond the classroom, as she applies her scientific knowledge of water, weather and climate to improve and enhance local natural resources.” Read more. 

Geography Department goes “All In” in Fountain for Giving Day

When the University of Mary Washington announced that the theme of 2019’s Giving Day was “All In,” the Department of Geography took that literally. On Wednesday, April 24, geography professors went “all in” the Palmieri Fountain in front of Monroe Hall to celebrate the more than $23,000 the department raised during the annual event, held […]