Geography major flourishes in multiple disciplines

Geography major senior Adam Dohrenwend will pursue geography, political science and Latin America at the University of Kansas for graduate school after Geneseo. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

Geography major and political science and environmental studies double minor senior Adam Dohrenwend has dedicated his studies, as well as his life, to his two main passions: political science and geography. 

The two subjects coalesce in his main concentration on political ecology—the study of how the consequences of environmental change are distributed across different stakeholder groups.

Originally, Dohrenwend came into Geneseo without any idea that he would one day go into geography. As a political science major, he decided to take a geography course on a whim his freshman year.

“After orientation, they only let you sign up for four courses,” Dohrenwend said. “I was like, ‘Fuck that. I’m paying for five courses; I’m going to take five courses.’”

His fifth course ended up being The Developing World because the course required no textbooks and the professor had satisfactory ratings on the “RateMyProfessor” website. 

As the current teaching assistant for The Developing World, this one random decision catapulted Dohrenwend’s college career in geography. He eventually ended up dropping his political science major to a minor as well as adding an environmental studies minor.

Dohrenwend currently specializes in Latin American geography, which he attributes greatly to associate professor of geography David Aagesen. Due to the vast amount of income inequalities and ever-changing agricultural landscape, the region is ripe for research opportunities.

“[Hypothetically], when you build a dam, you destroy huge plots of land,” Dohrenwend said. “Who experiences these externalities? How are the positive and negative effects of the things that we do distributed across different state cultures in society? Usually, it’s the people who can least afford [these externalities], like the indigenous or the poor.”

Dohrenwend recently studied abroad to Argentina to further his studies in Latin American geography. He has also traveled to a total of 13 different countries. 

“There’s so many things that are wrong [in Argentina], but it’s such a beautiful place, it’s such a beautiful culture,” Dohrenwend said.

Dohrenwend’s passions for geography and political science along with his work ethic have gotten him far—he landed a full graduate scholarship to the University of Kansas and a paid graduate teaching assistant job. He plans to do further research on Latin American political geography and agriculture during this time.

As an incredibly hard worker, Dohrenwend’s efforts demonstrate themselves in a multitude of dimensions. Outside Geneseo, he works 90-hour weeks over the summer as the manager of a kosher grocery store—a position he earned after working at the same store for seven consecutive summers. As the manager, he oversees hiring, firing and scheduling the entire staff.

Within Geneseo, Dohrenwend’s involvement on campus is not to be minimized. Dohrenwend has TA’d five times for both geography and political science classes, is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, the social and house chair for Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity and works as a developmental assistant for the Department of College Advancement. Last but certainly not least, he is the president and longest standing member of Geneseo College Republicans.

“Freshman year, I showed up to my first College Republicans meeting on the first Monday of the semester on the first day of classes,” Dohrenwend said. “I got there 20 minutes early. Nine o’clock comes, nobody shows up; 9:30 comes, nobody comes. They just didn’t have a meeting that day because it was the beginning of the semester. So officially, I have been in College Republicans longer than anyone in this college.” 

While Dohrenwend is the president of the College Republicans, he prides himself on being a liberal, moderate Republican. He adamantly “hates Trump” and publicly trashes the president at meetings.

In the future, Dohrenwend plans on becoming a professor after obtaining a Ph.D. at the University of Kansas. His interests in the intersection of agriculture, politics and people are well exemplified in his somewhat fortuitous college career path.