Robert Oliver, Associate Professor
103 Major Williams Hall
Department of Geography
Office phone: 15402315523
I am an associate professor with a specialization in urban geography in the Department of Geography at Virginia Tech.
My expertise and primary research effort seeks to expose how various claims to urban space are rendered visible during mega-event (i.e. Olympics, World Cup, Pan American Games) planning and hosting processes. The study of mega-events provides geographers with a critical opportunity to examine the intersections of public space, symbolism and entrepreneurial urbanism. This research has been supported by International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Study Centre [see http://www.olympic.org/olympic-studies-centre?articleid=112831 ]. In particular I have been investigating how various interest groups in Toronto have used bids for the Olympic Games (as well as other sporting events such as the Pan American Games) as an occasion to redefine the vision for the city’s waterfront.
A second area of study involves the examination of the shifting landscapes of “Micropolitan America.” Micropolitan statistical areas were conceptualized by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 2003 to capture the intermediate level of urbanization between larger, more extended metropolitan systems (large core settlement clusters of more than 50,000) and smaller, more localized rural places (less than 10,000 people). Along with the expertise of other colleagues, a number of questions are being explored: Are rural and micropolitan communities in specific regions of the United States experiencing similar patterns of development? (2) Can development patterns be linked to geographic isolation and/or population density? This effort is affiliated with Virginia’s Tech’s, Save our Towns initiative (http://www.saveourtowns.outreach.vt.edu/).