Faculty member invited to international organization

Trey Crumbie

A WKU faculty member has been accepted to represent the United States in an international organization.

Chris Groves, distinguished professor of hydrogeology, who teaches in the Geography and Geology department, accepted an invitation to represent the nation in the Karst Commission of the International Geographical Union.

The IGU was established in Brussels, Belgium in 1922. The intent of the organization is to promote geography through conducting geographical research and education worldwide. On the Karst Commission, Groves will help develop an international approach to managing karst environments. 

Karst is a type of landscape formed through the dissolution of soluble rocks, such as limestone. Caves and sinkholes are examples of karst landscapes.

Groves said another goal of being on the commission is communication.

 “It enhances the possibilities of people being able to interact with each other throughout the world,” he said.

Groves enjoys working internationaly and said this will be a good experience for him. 

Groves said the commission ties in very closely with the classes he teaches. When teaching about hydrology, Groves goes over topics such as water and landscapes. Groves said he will now be able to bring an international element when teaching about karst landscapes, as he may be able to develop projects and trips that will take students to other countries.

“Certainly, there’s a lot of benefits from developing the international relationships” he said.

This is not the first international organization Groves has been a part of. For about 20 years, Groves has worked with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to study karst water resources. David Keeling, Geography and Geology department head, said he hopes Groves’ invitation helps with development of both WKU and the department.

“It helps gives us some international profile in terms of recognizing that type of research that we do,” he said. 

Keeling said karst landscapes do have an impact on people’s lives.

“Just go back and think about the Corvette Museum sinkhole collapse, and that’s all related to Karst” he said. 

“There are literally millions and millions of people that are impacted by karst landscapes.” 

Keeling encourages other faculty to get involved in international activities   

“If you’re going to have international reach, as the President (Gary Ransdell) wants us to have, then you got to serve on international committees,” he said. “Because most problems that we face as a global society, whether it’s water, or air quality, pollution, [or] climate change, those are international in scope. They’re not just for Bowling Green or Kentucky.”