Brief Biography of Case
by Casey D. Allen, PhD
I’m just a Geographer. I travel the world frugally, read and research somewhat eclectically, and teach because it’s fun! I preach the important skills of Speculating, Observing, Describing, and Analyzing (SODA) landscapes, peoples, and places to my students. Those traits also flow into my personal life. How did I become a Geographer? Well, the word to best describe that is: Magic! You see, I had always been a Geographer...I just never knew it. In fact, until I went to university, I never really knew what Geography was, let alone that you could study it. Sure, classes in the natural sciences, cultural studies, Arts & humanities, and philosophical thought always interested me, but as individual disciplines, they never satisfied me. Then I took a university-level Geography course and all that changed. I discovered that what I wanted to do – and what I was really doing all along anyhow – was Geography!
Of course, one reason I feel very at home in the field and believe Geography is my place, is that my interests continually cross many disciplines. It wasn’t until after a long search and trying many different undergrad majors, that I realized all my interests could be found/combined under the auspices of Geography: from plants, medieval maps, languages, pop culture, and clouds to landforms, epistemology, architecture, religion, and theatre – and anything else that tickled my fancy! And with Geography, area studies also remain within reach, and that’s allowed me to gain first-hand experience in the Middle East and Aegean, the Caribbean, Europe, Japan, and Latin America. Plus, as a keen Traveler, I have a solid grasp of most other regions as well. My mantra, for both myself and my students, is what Aristotle told Alexander: “Go and see...” A sentiment Geography fits so well, because with it, you can study anything in the World (and beyond)!
Case in Brief:
Born and grew-up in northern Utah, but traveled (and continue to travel) the world. A lot.
Six siblings and 29 niblings
Grade School: the ol’ three R’s: reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic (started in a one-room schoolhouse!)
Middle School: more of the three R’s
High School: foci in Drama & Spanish (until my Junior year)
General Equivalency Diploma (GED): the only way I could get out of high school at the time...
Undergraduate: Spanish (Snow Junior College and Salt Lake Community College), Theatre, Music, Dance, History, Recreation, Geology, Botany, Latin America, Middle East, Europe, and Geography (Weber State University)
Graduate (Master’s): Education, Geology/Geography, and Spanish (Southern Utah University)
Graduate (Doctoral): Geography, Bio/Cultural/Urban Geomorphology, Soils, Landscape Studies, (micro)Meteorology, Ecological Climatology, Rock Art, Environmental Perception, Geography Education, Landforms, Humanistic Geography, Geographic Thought and Epistemology, Critical Pedagogy, Sense of Place, Latin America, Scientific Inquiry, Arid Lands, US-Mexico Borderlands, Human-Environment Interactions, Cultural Ecology, Remote Sensing, GIS, Field Methods, Popular Cartography...(Arizona State University and University of Denver)
Secondary, grades 6-12: Earth and Integrated Science (Grade 7, Anderson Junior High, Chandler, AZ); Spanish, History, and Geography (Island View School, Syracuse, UT)
Community College: Physical Geography and associated lab (Chandler-Gilbert Community College), Meteorology and associated lab (Salt Lake Community College)
University: Earth-Life Systems/Cycles, Physical Geology, Landform Dynamics, Natural Hazards, Introduction to Geography, Landscape Geochemistry, Geomorphology, Sustainability, Field Studies, Field Methods, Geographic Information Technologies, Research Methods, World Regional Geography, Physical Geography, Physical Geology, First Year Experience, and others...
Graduate level: Geomorphology, Landscape Geochemistry, Sustainability, Field Studies, Geographic Thought, Human/Cultural Geography, Geo-techniques, Weathering & Petroglyphs
Travel, exploration, wandering & getting lost, driving, camping, backpacking in the wilderness
Theatre & The Arts, movies/cinema, reading, thinking esoteric thoughts, acquiring knowledge
Learning languages, mythology & belief systems, Medieval & Renaissance stuff, increasing my cultural competency
Favorite Holiday: Halloween! (since 1985)
First Major Turning Point in Life: my 15th summer, being lost (alone!) in the Chihuahua Desert of Mexico
Second Major Turning Point in Life: 10 years later, being shot at by Guerillas in Peru
Third Major Turning Point in Life: experiencing Magnificence
Most Recent Major Turning Point in Life: understanding myself...
Broadway Debut: Opposite Carrie Fisher (aka Princess Leia of Star Wars fame) in Wishful Drinking, January 2010
Most Famous Person Met: Fidel Castro (during the Japanese Embassy hostage crisis in Lima, Peru, 1997), although meeting William Shatner and kissing Carrie Fisher are also a highlight. I’ve also hugged Sheila E and spent the day in a spa (naked) with Martin Short.
Favorite Geographers: Claudius Clausson Swart (Danish, 1388-??), Alexander von Humboldt (Prussian/German, 1769-1859), Paul Vidal de La Blanche (French, 1845-1918), Isaiah Bowman (American, the Geographer on Hiram Bingham’s Machu Picchu expedition, among other things, 1878-1950), Carl Sauer (American, 1889-1975), Yi-Fu Tuan (American, 1930-2022), Ron Dorn (American, b. 1950-something)
Favorite Major World (non-US) Cities (of those I’ve visited): Firsts: Madrid (Spain) & London (UK). Seconds: Rome (Italy) & Amman (Jordan). Thirds: Osaka (Japan) & Paris (France)
Favorite Major US Cities (of those I’ve visited): First: Manhattan. Seconds: Boston & Washington, DC
Favorite Small(ish) Towns (of those I’ve visited): Haltwhistle (England), Esch (Luxembourg), Hallstatt (Austria), Oban (Scotland), Princeton (New Jersey)
Favorite Castle (of those I’ve visited): Featherstone (Northumberland, England) since it’s my family castle, but a close second is Spiš Castle (Slovakia) or one of the untouristed Desert Qasour in Jordan, or Warwick Castle with all of its hidden passageways!
Ethnic Heritage: According to my AncestryDNA results, mostly Scandinavian, England/NW Europe, and Germanic Europe, with some Scottish and a tiny bit of the Baltics thrown into the mix...
Favorite Place to Backpack: Anywhere in the mountains by water...but especially the High Uintah Wilderness, Utah
Favorite Poem: I have lots of favorites. But I suppose Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken is a fave...
Favorite Movie: Overall: The Princess Bride. Adventure: Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins, Nate and Hayes, Kelly’s Heroes, and many fantasy-type movies (Serenity, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.). Westerns: Silverado, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Unforgiven. Comedy: Real Genius, Top Secret!, UHF, The Three Amigos
Most Amazing “Natural” Phenomena Observed: Standing at the end of a Rainbow (no pot of gold). Second: under a full moon, seeing the s waves of an earthquake ripple across the ground. Third: seeing the Big Dipper and Southern Cross constellations in the night sky AT THE SAME TIME!
Other Amazing Experiences: Standing on top of the Monastery (ad-Deir) in Petra (Jordan), discovering forgotten fortresses in the Arabian Desert, water skiing on the Amazon, swimming in the Nile, diving into Lake Titicaca, playing on glaciers at 18,000+ feet, floating with pink dolphins, becoming a Brother of the Forest, watching Andean Condors soar around Mt. Aconcagua, sea kayaking alongside giant turtles, and too many others to mention!