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Geography and the Environment Department Welcomes Two Scholars

February 17, 2022

Chie Sakakibara

Karl Offen

At the start of the spring 2022 semester, the Maxwell School’s Geography and the Environment Department welcomed two new faculty members, one of whom was hired as part of the University’s research clusters initiative.

Chie Sakakibara, associate professor of geography and the environment and Native American and Indigenous studies, is a scholar in global Indigenous environmental studies and one of two recent cluster hires for the Native American and Indigenous Studies (NAIS) program shared by Maxwell and the College of Arts and Sciences.  

Sakakibara’s work explores the interplay of climate change and Indigenous resilience. She is of Ryūkyūan descent, an Indigenous group of southwestern Japan including the Okinawan archipelago and its diaspora within and beyond Japan. Her research focuses on the humanistic dimensions of global climate change in Native North America, specifically on Indigenous sovereignty, health and well-being, and environmental justice in Arctic Alaska.

Sakakibara holds a Ph.D. in geography from the University of Oklahoma, with an undergraduate degree in Native American studies from the same institution. She has published widely in academic journals and her work in the Arctic has received three grants from National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Arctic Social Sciences Program, and the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium, resulting in the publication of her recent book, “Whale Snow: Iñupiat, Climate Change, and Multispecies Resilience in Arctic Alaska” (University of Arizona Press, 2020), which was awarded the American Association of Geographers Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Books in Geography.

Also joining the faculty is Karl Offen, professor of geography and the environment. His research focuses on historical geography, political ecology, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Atlantic world and map studies.

Before joining Maxwell, Offen served as a faculty member at Oberlin College for six years, two of which were as chair of the environmental studies program. He was a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma from 2000 to 2015.

Offen’s published works include two books, “The Awakening Coast: An Anthology of Moravian Writings from Mosquitia and Eastern Nicaragua, 1849-1899” (University of Nebraska Press, 2014) and “Mapping Latin America: A Cartographic Reader” (University of Chicago Press, 2011). He serves on the editorial board for the Atlantic Crossings book series (University of Alabama Press, 2022-present), the Journal of Historical Geography and Mesoamérica. He formerly served as the chair of the Conference of Latin American Geography.

Offen earned a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1999.

In addition to Sakakibara and Offen, the Maxwell School this spring welcomed Ryan McCarthy as a Dean’s Scholar in Residence for Maxwell’s Washington, D.C., programs. The former Secretary of the U.S. Army brings expertise from senior appointments at the Department of Defense under three U.S. presidents, service on Capitol Hill and from several private sector roles.


Published in the Summer 2022 issue of the Maxwell Perspective

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