'Chasing Ice' director views film with students

By hosting a showing of documentary “Chasing Ice” last night, Department of Geography chair Alan Arbogast hoped to build awareness, not just for environmental issues, but for the geography major at MSU.

“First of all, we want to show a great film,” Arbogast said. “In the context of that, I want to promote the Department of Geography.”

A free screening of “Chasing Ice” was shown last night at Wells Hall. The documentary, directed by Jeff Orlowski, is the story of environmental photographer James Balog and his mission to open the public’s eyes on climate change. Balog placed time-lapse cameras across the Arctic to show how the world’s glaciers change from year to year.

“In 2013, it seems like a simple and obvious idea, but when he came up with the concept back in 2007, nobody had done timelines of glaciers like he was attempting to do, to get the cameras to get working around the world,” Orlowski said.

According to Orlowski, the award-winning documentary has become such a success because of the human aspect of it. He said there’s a tricky balance when it comes to making a film about science that is accessible to the public.

“We tried to frame it around James’ story, a human story, do it in a way that’s entertaining and exciting,” he said. “In many ways, it’s more of an adventure film than a science film.”

Arbogast said students are largely unaware of the geography degree as an option.

“Geography is not taught well at the high school level, certainly at Michigan,” he said. “There are very, very few geography classes that you can take at high school. So, people don’t think of it as a viable degree option when they come to the university.”

Graduate student Dan Kowalski, who didn’t have a geography course in high school, said high school students don’t think of geography as something they can pursue as a degree.

“It’s not just Michigan, it’s a national issue,” Kowalski said. “And it’s because of the way our education system is structured.”

According to Arbogast, after graduation, students with geography majors can gain jobs as environmental consultants, real estate analysts and geographical information specialists, to name a few.

“There are a whole host of jobs that are well-paying,” he said.

Orlowski said the lack of interest in geography is hurting the environmental research progress necessary to help the environment.

“There are a lot of things that are changing around the planet very significantly, and I would argue that there’s more research that needs to be done than there is the talent to do it right now,” he said.

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