Geography and the Environment

Faculty Members

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Michelle Rhodes

Michelle Rhodes, PhD

Associate Professor

Geography and the Environment

Abbotsford campus, A406g

Phone: 604-504-7441 ext. 4724

email Michelle


My professional and personal geographies are inextricably intertwined. My personal maps evolve, expand, and inform what I research and teach. I have spent half my life in BC, the other half in Illinois, Montana, Oregon. My research has been situated in these locales. My students know more about the Midwest than they ever thought they would need to.

My biography is simply that of studying place and situating myself within it. Every day, I cross one of the world’s most sublime rivers at least twice. Most times, I’m looking east. “Whole symphonies live between here and a distant whatever-we-look-at.” —Richard Hugo (1923-1982)

Since 2004, I have lived in Sto:lo traditional territory, and have been a faculty member in Geography at UFV. In that time, students have encountered me in one or more of nearly two dozen courses. Administrators have encountered me in one or more of nearly two dozen committees.

I also chair the General Studies program. As the first in my immediate family to go to university, I see access to higher education as a matter of social justice.

Previously, I served as assistant professor of Political Science and Geography at the University of Montana-Western. I actually love Winnipeg and Edmonton winters. Cubs, not White Sox. I will watch any hockey game so long as Chicago or Minnesota are playing.


  • PhD, Simon Fraser University, 2002
  • MA, Simon Fraser University, 1998
  • BA, University of Montana, 1995

Teaching Philosophy

I am happy to share my teaching philosophy as part of a dialogue with anyone who asks, preferably over a hot tea or coffee. My favourite teaching moments happen the same way.

Teaching Interests

  • GEOG 111: Environmental Issues
  • GEOG 130: Canada
  • GEOG/ ECON 242: Economic Geography
  • GEOG 311: Global Resources and Environment
  • GEOG 433: Selected Regions--The American West (433H); The Great Lakes (433L)
  • POSC 322: Introduction to American Politics
  • PORT 399: Portfolio II

As a generalist geographer, I teach introductory courses in human, economic, and Canadian geography, as well as specialized courses at the third and fourth years in natural resources, regional geography, and tourism and outdoor recreation.

I semi-regularly teach undergraduate research courses, including honours and directed studies research projects in a diversity of human geography topical areas. These have included resource management, urban geography, tourism, and political and economic geographies. I am always interested in how and what students learn through their research, and can supervise projects in other subject areas as well.

Research Interests

My current research focuses on community forestry in BC, with particular attention to the Mission Tree Farm (TFL #26). I am working in partnership with District of Mission Forestry to produce a book on the evolution of the TFL, its current challenges, and future planning directions and priorities. I have also worked with Kirsten McIlveen (Capilano University) on community forestry elsewhere in Burns Lake, BC.

In addition, I do research in the structure of higher education, including articulation of curriculum between institutions. In summer 2018, I am overseeing the assessment of a block schedule pilot course slate at UFV. In addition, I am interested in the challenges of delivering higher education in partnership with non-academic institutions.

Additional areas of research that I have started (sometimes more than once) and return to as time allows include the study of housing and business morphologies within evolving economic landscapes, and the meanings and mythologies of western American landscapes.

Research Grants

  • District of Mission, Forestry Department (2018-19)

Community Engagement

  • 2014-current: Member and chair of the Mission (BC) Community Heritage Commission.

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Bachelor of Environmental Studies, coming fall 2019

Develop the skills and knowledge to pursue a variety of environmental careers in both the private and public sectors.

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Melissa Koyanagi2

"My most valuable experience was certainly the AIG to BC's Interior that I had the pleasure of completing with my peers under the guidance of Gary Fehr and Olav Lian. This experience was in-depth, interesting and relevant to my previous studies in a wide range of subject areas, including postglacial and paraglacial processes, First Nations affairs in BC and BC's evolving economy. I sincerely enjoyed this learning experience and it was the perfect way to cap off my undergraduate studies at UFV."

Head to GATE's blog  to find out more about Melissa and what other graduates have to say about GATE.‌

  • – Melissa Koyanagi
  •    BA with double extended minors in Geography and Psychology

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