His love affair with geography began as a young boy when he would pore over a Rand McNally atlas in the backseat of the family car on long road trips around the country.
Today, Daniel Warshawsky has a Ph.D. in geography, has reconstructed Wright State University’s geography program and received the 2020 Helen Ruth Aspaas SAGE Innovator Award, a prestigious national geography honor.
Named for one of the founding members of the Stand Alone Geographers Specialty Group (SAGE), the award recognizes outstanding and innovative stand-alone geographic educators.
“The Helen Ruth Aspaas SAGE Innovator Award is meaningful to me because it meant that my work to rebuild the geography program at Wright State has been recognized by other leaders in the discipline of geography,” he said.
Warshawsky says he values geography because it represents the whole of the planet — from its cities to the planet’s ecosystems.
He says geography provides students with a critical mindset to understand the complexity of the world’s regions and a set of technical skills to map and analyze spatial patterns. Graduates find jobs with city planning departments, environmental advocacy organizations, global geospatial companies and nonprofits.
Warshawsky has worked to rebuild Wright State’s geography program since joining the faculty in 2016. In addition to teaching eight different geography courses, he has taken over advising roles for all geography majors, which increased between 2016 and 2019.
As part of the increase, the Gamma Theta Upsilon honors society was restarted at Wright State last year with the induction of seven people. Additionally, two active undergraduate students started a geography student organization. Warshawsky serves as the faculty sponsor for both.
Warshawsky grew up in the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming. He moved away for 17 years to Illinois, Wisconsin and California before returning to Wyoming and is living within one mile of the house in which he grew up. His late father was a professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati. His mother is a retired ombudsman, university administrator and lecturer of women’s studies and history at the university.
The family road trips through the Midwest and South sparked Warshawsky’s interest in geography.
“As I grew older, I became more interested in cities, food insecurity and hunger, trying to understand why food access varied in different neighborhoods of cities such as Cincinnati where I lived and Chicago where I often visited,” he said.
Warshawsky earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, a master’s from the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, all in geography.
At Wright State, he teaches courses in geography and public administration. In 2019, he was promoted to associate professor of geography and director of the Master of Public Administration Program in the School of Public and International Affairs.
Warshawsky is a member of the advisory board of the Raider Food Pantry at Wright State, faculty representative and university partner with the Dayton-Montgomery County Food and Hunger Coalition, and faculty representative on the Healthy People Food Access Committee with Dayton-Montgomery County.
His research focuses on food access and food waste in the world’s cities. He has analyzed urban food systems in North America and Africa. The results of his studies have been published in The Professional Geographer, Urban Geography, Geoforum, Social and Cultural Geography, The Geographical Journal, Geography Compass, Cities, Sustainability, Journal of Southern African Studies and African Geographical Review.
Warshawsky is working on a long-term research project on the globalization of food banking. He is analyzing the structure and outcomes of food bank development and the roles that food banks play in reducing food insecurity and food waste.
“I hope that my research can have an impact on people’s quality of life and the planet more generally,” Warshawsky said.