Our History

The Center for Community Geography launched in 2020 as an initiative of the Department of Geography & Environmental Studies (GES) at the University of New Mexico. We engage directly with community groups and partners in work ranging from community mapping and cultural preservation to environmental planning and management. Our staff also provide support for professors and students who want to use place-based methods and geospatial technology in support of community needs.

Our Center begain with a generous gift from Robert H. Mallory, a Geography & Environmental Studies alumnus who wanted to attract more students to the field of geography and decided to help bring geography directly to students and community members by creating an organization where they could address human-environment issues together.

Born and raised in Albuquerque, Robert H. Mallory always appreciated the beauty and diversity of New Mexico and chose to stay in state for his university studies. He enrolled at the University of New Mexico, by chance enrolled in Geography 101 and discovered that the Department was where he wanted to complete his studies because he felt at home here. Eventually, Mallory started his own firm in Albuquerque providing design services throughout New Mexico as an acoustician. Though he calls himself an "accidental geographer" Mallory recognizes that the Geography Department helped him complete his degree and expand his worldview.

Wanting to give back as much as he received, Mallory joined the advisory board of the Department of Geography & Environmental Studies in 2012 and learned about the needs of students and community members working to address human-environment issues like climate change, water security, and other dynamics in New Mexico. After a compelling conversation with Dr. Maria Lane, now the Center's Director, it became clear that donating to a Center for Community Geography would support a holistic way to connect to students and employ geographic thinking to address human-environment problems.

Through helping start the Center, he sought to help more students discover geography with intention and anticipates his bequest will expand awareness of geographical thinking more than he could alone. When talking to Center staff about this project, he said, “My knowledge [of geography] is constantly building, and it has been an incredible gift…Geography stole my heart and I want to provide that opportunity to others.”


full-group-pajarito-acequia-sp2022Students from Dr. Lane's Critical Cartography course with community partner, Jorge Garcia, at the Pajarito Acequia. Photo by Desiree Loggins.

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