Jonnell Allen Robinson
Associate Professor and Director, Syracuse Community Geography, Syracuse University
I came to Syracuse University in September 2005 to become the first “community geographer” here or elsewhere. In this avant-garde position, I am tasked with assisting community-based organizations to analyze geographic research topics of their choosing. It is truly a labor of love. I meet new people passionate about their communities and contribute to exciting community initiatives almost daily. I help to forge partnerships between traditionally trained academic scholars and local experts to tackle some of our most pressing community concerns. I am assisted by a dynamic team of bright and thoughtful undergraduate interns and graduate research assistants. In 2011, I was awarded a Syracuse University Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence for my work with hundreds of community partners, students and faculty on participatory research projects. In 2012, I was promoted to Assistant Professor of Geography at SU. As a Professor, I have a greater opportunity to advance participatory research as a pedagogy and scholarship.
To support the growing interest in community geography at other geography departments, I was named an approved speaker by the Visiting Geographical Scientist Program (VGSP), sponsored by Gamma Theta Upsilon and the Association of American Geographers. Through the VGSP program I have consulted on newly created community geography programs at Georgia State University and Columbus State University. Locally, I serve on a number of community-based steering and advisory committees to offer a geographic perspective to important community concerns.
My diverse education prepared me for this unique position: I have Bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Political Science from Niagara University (1998). I completed the Master of Public Health in Maternal and Child Health/Global Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (2003). I obtained my PhD in Geography, specializing in Medical Geography under the direction of the renowned medical geographer Melinda Meade from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (2010).