Jump to main content

Karen Barton

Karen Barton


Department of Geography, GIS, & Sustainability
College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Contact Information

(970) 351-4620
Cand 2200G
Office Hours
Wed only 11am-12pm and by appointment. Meetings also available at downtown LINC Innovation Center.
Mailing Address
University of Northern Colorado
Department of Geography, GIS, & Sustainability
Campus Box 115
Greeley, CO 80639


Ph.D., University of Arizona, Geography (Minor: Anthropology)
M.A., University of Arizona, Geography
B.A., University of California, Irvine, Social Ecology (Emphasis: Criminology)

Professional/Academic Experience

Research/Areas of Interest

My teaching and research focuses on community resilience and adaptation in marine and agricultural communities, global environmental change, and experiential learning. With support from Fulbright and the National Endowment for the Humanities, I recently published my monograph, “Africa’s Joola Shipwreck: Causes and Consequences of a Humanitarian Disaster,” which investigates the second greatest maritime shipwreck in non-wartime history, an event which led to more human losses than the RMS TItanic. My book sheds light on the geographical forces that gave rise to the disaster and the ways in which the Sufi tenet of rafet njort (beautiful optimism) defined Senegal’s resistance and recovery. I have been fortunate to have been awarded several Fulbright fellowships (Nepal, Mexico, Kuwait, Brazil) as well as the Council for American Overseas Research Senior Fellowship in order to conduct my international fieldwork. I am also privileged to have organized and led five undergraduate field expeditions courses to Iceland, Peru, Nicaragua, Nepal, and Guyana. I currently serve as a Fellow of the Explorers Club, the Royal Geographical Society, and a board member for both Fulbright Colorado and the Society for Women Geographers. I am a first generation scholar, long distance runner, writer, and mom.

Publications/Creative Works

Barton, Karen Samantha. 2021.  Africa’s Greatest Shipwreck: Causes and Consequences of a Humanitarian Disaster. Lexington: Landam, MD. (January 15, 2021, Rowman & Littlefield imprint).

Barton, K. 2021. “Disease Discourses, African Knowledge Systems, and COVID-19 in Senegal.”” In Francis Egbokhare and Adeshina Afolayan (eds), The Humanities and Global Health: Perspectives, Challenges, and Possibilities (in press).

Barton, K. 2021.  Who Builds the Desert? Exploring Guest Worker Migration, Resources, and  Julian Agyeman’s “Just” Sustainability in the Arabian Gulf.  in Handbook on Teaching Social Issues, eds. (Evans, Ronald), 2nd edition, Information Age Publishing  (in press).

Barton, K. 2021. “Couriers of Change: The Semiotics of Senegalese Postage Stamps.” In “Stamps, Nationalism, and Political Transition. (ed. Brunn, Stanley). New York: Taylor & Francis (in press)

Barton, K. 2021.  Environmental and Climate Refugees in West Africa.Chapter 4 (pp. 36-50) in Encyclopedia of Global Migration. (ed. Pope, C.). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, forthcoming (in press).

Barton, K. 2020. “Geography, Islam, and Africa.” Chapter 8 (pp. 133-148) in Palgrave Handbook on Islam in Africa. (Falola, T., Kurfi, M. and F. Ngom), Palgrave Mcmillan.

Barton, K. 2019. An African Teaching Module: Using Stereotypes and Shipwrecks to Refine Students’ Knowledge of People and Place. The Geography Teacher. https://doi.org/10.1080/19338341.2019.1579106

Klein, P., Barton, K., Salo, J., Lee, J. and T. Vowles. 2019. Conveying Geographic Concepts Through Issues Based Inquiry. In Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Geography (eds. Walkington, Hill and Dyer).  New York: Edward Elgar Publishing.

Barton, 2018.  Guyana’s Linden-Lethem Road:  A Metaphor for Conservation and Development.  Focus on Geography. Volume 61.  https://focusongeography.org/publications/photoessays/guyana/index.html

Barton, K. 2017. Exploring the Benefits of Field Trips in a Food Geography Class. Journal of Geography. 116: 6 (pp. 237-249).

Barton, K. 2017. The Geographical Dimensions of Africa’s Greatest Shipwreck.  Focus on Geography. DOI:10.21690/foge/2016.60.4

Barton, K. 2012. Northern Colorado's Millennial Generation: Perceptions of Nature, Society and Technology. Journal of Geography 111: 6 (pp. 213-223).

Barton, K.  & C.  Collins. 2011.  Generational Geographies. Chapter 6 in Geography Handbook for the 21st Century, Sage Publications (Stoltman, J, ed.).

Conway-Gomez, K., Barton, K., Wang, M., Wei, D., Hamilton, M., and Kingsland, M. 2010. Population & natural resources conceptual framework: How does population growth affect the availability of resources? In Solem, M., Klein, P., Muñiz-Solari, O., and Ray, W., eds., AAG Center for Global Geography Education. Available from http://globalgeography.aag.org.

Honors and Awards

2021 Fulbright Hays Fellowship, Mexico, Department of Education.
2019 Fulbright Core Fellowship, Yezin Agricultural University, Burma-Myanmar.
2019 UNC HSS College Scholar Award.
2018 National Council for Geographic Education Distinguished Teaching Award.
2018 Sears Helgoth Distinguished Teaching Award.
2018 Council for American Overseas Research/National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Research Fellowship, Senegal.
2018 Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholars Program, Ethiopia.
2018 Fulbright Specialist Award, Institute for Crisis Management, Kathmandu, Nepal.
2016 Fulbright Teaching/Research Core Fellowship Burma-Myanmar.
2016 Fulbright Hays Seminars Abroad Fellowship, Senegal.
2012 UNC Engaged Research Scholar Award.
2012 UNC Diversity in the Classroom Award.
2011 UNC Provost Excellence in Teaching Award.
2010 UNC Humanities/Social Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award.
2010 Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Fellowship (Qatar, UAE, Kuwait).
2010 Mortar Board Favorite Professor Award.
2010 UNC Disability Resource Center Award.
2007 Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Fellowship (Brazil).