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The Chauncey D. Harris Lecture

Honoring one of our most accomplished alumni

Photograph of Chauncey D. Harris

Chauncey Dennison Harris (1914-2003)

Chauncey Harris was born in Logan, Utah, the son of Franklin D. Harris, who was at the time a professor of Agronomy at Utah State Agricultural College, and later served as the president of Brigham Young University from 1921-1945 (for whom the Harris Fine Arts Center is named).

Harris graduated from BYU in 1933 at age 19 as university valedictorian with a degree in Geography (then part of the Geology department). As the first Rhodes Scholar from BYU (it has since had only eight others), he earned Master's degrees from Oxford and the London School of Economics and a PhD from the University of Chicago.

During World War II, he served as a geographic analyst in the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor of the CIA), where he developed a lifelong fascination with the Soviet Union. At the same time, he began his lifelong career as a professor of Geography at the University of Chicago. His many areas of expertise included the Soviet Union, Urban Geography, and Economic Geography. Although he published several landmark developments in these fields, his most enduring legacy is likely the Multiple Nuclei Model of the spatial pattern of urban development.

During his career, he served as president of the Association of American Geographers, an officer in the American Geographical Society and the International Geographical Union, and as vice president at Chicago. He retired in 1984, and passed away in 2003.

Watch a 1971 interview of Dr. Harris or a 1988 interview

Before his death, the Harris family generously endowed a fund in our department to host a distinguished geography scholar each November during Geography Awareness Week, to give a lecture of interest to our students and faculty. We have greatly benefited from this gift and the insights of our guests.

  • 2003: Alec Murphy, U. Oregon, Coping with a Changing World
  • 2004: Daniel Arreola, Arizona State U., Hispanic Spaces, Latino Places: Community and Cultural Diversity in Contemporary America
  • 2005: Kenneth Foote, U. Colorado, Shadowed Ground Revisited: American’s Landscapes of Violence and Tragedy
  • 2006: John Agnew, UCLA, The Impossible Capital: Rome under Liberal and Fascist Regimes, 1870-1943
  • 2007: David Plane, U. Arizona, Rounding the Life Course and Heading for Home: How Age and Intergenerational Family Ties Shape Migration Up and Down the U.S. Urban Hierarchy
  • 2008: Russ Congalton, U. New Hampshire, Land Cover Mapping in New Zealand: An Evaluation of the Effect of Terrain Normalization on Classification Accuracy
  • 2009: Kenneth Young, U. Texas at Austin, Environmental Change in the Western Amazon
  • 2010: Richard Wright, Dartmouth College, Geographies of Racial Mixing in household and Neighborhoods
  • 2011: Paul F. Starrs, U. Nevada, When Agriculture Meets Geography : A Story of Handshakes, Courtship, and Consummation
  • 2012: Barney Wharf, U. Kansas, Nationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and Geographical Imaginations
  • 2013: Craig Colten, Louisiana State U., Remembering Resilience: Disaster and Social Memory in Louisiana
  • 2014: Derek Alderman, U. Tennessee, Pressing the Reset Button on Southern Hospitality
  • 2015: Timothy Warner, West Virginia U., Monitoring of Mine Remediation in the Appalachian Region using Remote Sensing
  • 2016: Sally Horn, U. Tennessee, Lake Sediments, Environmental History, and Big Questions in Geography
  • 2017: William Wyckoff, Montana State U., Producing Public Geographies: Producing a Field Guide to the American West
  • 2018: Dallen Timothy, Arizona State U., Borders Matter: Tourism, International Boundaries and Imprints on Place
  • 2019: Marguerite Madden, U. Georgia, Spatial-Temporal Patterns of Human-Wildlife-Environment Interactions: Understanding elephant movements and linkages to development, local communal farming and drought towards mitigating Human-Elephant Conflict in Africa
  • 2020: No Lecture
  • 2021: Maggi Kelly, U. California-Berkeley, Mapping for Impact in a Changing California
  • 2022: Jay Gatrell, Eastern Illinois U., Applied Geography: A Context & Trajectory